I meant that in the sense that he isn't an ocean navigator. Of all the voyages you mentioned, someone else navigated the vessel. He did not. He was a passenger.
There is no denigration in observing the obvious. Nevil spent an extraordinary amount of time thinking about navigation and far, far less time applying it in a practical sense, if at all. He is an intellectual giant, and his contribution to navigation spectacular, yet it is hard to call him a navigator. He absolutely was the Astronomer Royal, spending a tremendous amount of time staring at the sky. Yet the Greenwich Observatory isn't navigable.
That, in my view, makes most of us armchair theorists. In navigating, for the most part, we don't rely on CN, we rely on GPS. Nevil didn't have GPS, but he also didn't navigate the vessel.
Hopefully, that explains my classification of Nevil Maskelyne as an armchair theorist. An outstanding one!
If we are to permit trips, then hey, once I sat in airliner seats as I flew around the world in 9 days as a passenger, holding a handheld GPS. Does that make me a world navigator? (That bit was meant to be a joke, hopefully it is seen that way.)
Brad you wrote:
Nevil Maskelyne was an indoor theorist
Was he? What about his trip to St Helena in 1761 to observe the transit of Venus, and incidentally to try out his ideas on lunars; his trip to Barbados in 1763 to observe Jupiter’s satellites and test Harrison’s watch, Mayers Tables, and Irwin’s chair; and his trip to Schiehallion in Perthshire to measure the density of the Earth. As Astronomer Royal he would have spent a lot of time gazing skywards from the house on the hill at Greenwich, and as a cleric his soul might have been aiming even higher. DaveP
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