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    Re: Bass Strait, avoidance of
    From: Trevor Kenchington
    Date: 2003 May 26, 22:21 -0300

    Peter Fogg wrote:
    > The point is not the relative distances but the different mindset of the old
    > dudes due to not expecting to know with any precision their position. [snip]
    > But its
    > easier for me to prefer Bass Strait since I expect, one way and another,
    > to always have a very good idea where I am. And a reliable motor.
    Is it the knowledge of position or the motor that makes the difference?
    To put that another way: Was Bass Strait a problem for an under-manned,
    deep-laden, sailing grain carrier out of Spencer Gulf because her
    captain had only an imprecise knowledge of his position? Or was it a
    problem because a ship that cannot sail within six points of the wind,
    when tacking ship is a slow and uncertain process, wants a lot more sea
    room than can be found between the islands at the eastern end of the Strait?
    I don't know the answer.
    Peter continued:
    > King Island (in Bass Strait) was a notorious collector of ships.
    Though mostly of ships bound for Melbourne. They had no option but to
    enter the Strait from one end or the other.
    In a separate posting, George asked:
    > I think that the lighting of King Island must have made a big difference to
    > the attraction (or otherwise) of Bass Strait. Anyone know when that
    > happened?
    Not I. As an uncertain terminus post quem, West's "History of Tasmania"
    of 1852 makes very little mention of activity on "King's Island", save
    for that of the early sealers. I would take that as a strong indication
    that nothing as advanced as a lighthouse was to be found there before
    1850. Then again, until gold was found in Victoria, there wasn't that
    much shipping bound into Bass Strait and so not much justification for
    the expense of lights so that date in no surprise.
    Apropos of low-tech navigation methods: Bass Strait was not proven to be
    a strait until Kelly circumnavigated Tasmania in a whale boat in 1815.
    (Quite a feat in itself.) Bass and Flinders had seen the eastern
    entrance in, I think, 1798 but nobody seems to have wanted to sail
    through in a ship, which was perhaps wise since had there not been a
    strait, the luckless explorer would have been embayed with a shore
    stretching from near Adelaide to South West Cape under his lee. Bass and
    Flinders nevertheless suspected that there was a strait between Tasmania
    and the Australian mainland because of the heavy swell that was rolling
    through and which seemed too great to be formed within a closed bay.
    By such hints could an experienced seaman in a small vessel judge the
    shape of sea basins long before they were charted.
    Trevor Kenchington
    Trevor J. Kenchington PhD                         Gadus@iStar.ca
    Gadus Associates,                                 Office(902) 889-9250
    R.R.#1, Musquodoboit Harbour,                     Fax   (902) 889-9251
    Nova Scotia  B0J 2L0, CANADA                      Home  (902) 889-3555
                         Science Serving the Fisheries

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