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    Re: Ancient mariners enjoyed Hawaiian holidays
    From: Clive Sutherland
    Date: 2007 Oct 31, 00:27 -0000

    There is an interesting hypothesis in your thread that I am going to
    challenge  and that is the idea that by observing
    the currents in open sea you can deduce the presence of  islands out of
    sight or get information about your position etc,etc. This, of course would,
    for the pacific islanders be without the benefit of sophisticated modern
    This contention that has been put by many "armchair" authors,(saving your
    grace), since no-one as yet has put forward a practical method of how they
    would use them to navigate!
    I do not disagree that ocean current  exist or that they would be deflected
    by islands or shallows but I would like to know how you determine, from a
    small boat out of sight of land, that you are being affected by a current.
    How do you find its direction and how do you deduce that its direction is
    unexpected and therefore of navigable interest ?
    Most ocean current are no more than a knot or two in velocity and to
    distinguish this movement in the presence of the boats own motion would be
    almost impossible. Even over many days of observing the motion of the boat
    against the stars very little information of a small boats velocity could be
    I also challenge the reliability of ancient voyagers knowledge.  In fact
    some currents, for example the Gulf stream have swirls and eddies that would
    be  hard  to map even with the benefit of satellite imaging and it requires
    an explanation as to how they would have acquired this knowledge
    It is conceivable the pacific islanders navigated over long distances,
    although I remain unconvinced that they did so with any prepared passage
    plan, but principally I argue that it would be impossible to navigate using
    this method.
    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Michael Daly" 
    Sent: Tuesday, October 30, 2007 11:04 PM
    Subject: [NavList 3714] Re: Ancient mariners enjoyed Hawaiian holidays
    > George Huxtable wrote:
    >> As a habitual sceptic on such matters (and on most others), I would like
    >> to
    >> learn a bit more detail. Where, exactly, was the voyage from, and to? How
    >> many thousands of km? Did they REALLY have no GPS in a locker as a
    >> backup?
    >> (If that was really the case, it would indeed show a convincing level of
    >> self-confidence!). Was the exact intended destination announced in
    >> advance?
    >> Was there radio contact, or the possibility of it? Were any on board
    >> familiar with a chart of the Pacific? Were any such charts carried? Did
    >> they
    >> really trust their lives to that "map of the Pacific recorded in the
    >> mind"?
    > I wrote that from memory, so if you want to se how good or bad my memory
    > is, I found the show has been posted to Youtube:
    > That link is to the first of four(?) parts.  The show was one hour (with
    > commercials) so it should be about 42 minutes without.  The voyage was
    > in the second half of the show.
    > If there was any funny business, it wasn't shown.
    >> Remember, large parts of the Pacific have many island CHAINS and groups;
    >> in
    >> many cases it's hard to miss an island as you sail through such a chain,
    >> and
    >> the chains themselves can present a large target.
    > These features are precisely part of the maps they work with.  Since the
    > currents are affected by their presence, they can use the currents and
    > knowledge of islands to position themselves.  I think that identifying
    > plants and birds from specific island chains comes into it too.
    > I hope I didn't give anyone the idea that this was a "magical" ability.
    >  While Davis does put a bit of a mystical spin on things, the basic
    > navigator's abilities are all there.  It's not celestial navigation, but
    > rather piloting on a grand scale.  The stars are used for direction, the
    > currents for direction and information on nearby (but below horizon)
    > islands, clouds reveal islands by their patterns etc (even Patrick
    > O'Brien has Aubrey using stationary clouds over islands as an indication
    > of their presence, so that's part of European tradition, too).  Waves
    > reveal the effects of both random weather and steady winds - learning to
    > see the difference is part of learning the ocean.
    > When I said it's in their mind, I simply mean it's not written down.
    > The Inuit can voyage far over what white men see as a featureless arctic
    > without getting lost.  They didn't write it down either but kept the
    > maps in their minds.  The Inuit work with land, ice and ice flows, winds
    > and water just like the Polynesians used the features of the Pacific.
    > It only seems like magic to the Europeans who were slow or who refused
    > to learn.
    > Mike
    > >
    > --
    > No virus found in this incoming message.
    > Checked by AVG Free Edition.
    > Version: 7.5.503 / Virus Database: 269.15.12/1096 - Release Date:
    > 27/10/2007 11:02
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