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    Re: Bauer's book, was Re: Newton and Halley
    From: Scott Owen
    Date: 2007 Nov 23, 23:28 -0600

    enoid{at}northwestel.net wrote:
    > Nicholas wrote (clipped)
    >
    >> Today I read   book and took a copy of Chapter I (A Short
    >> History) with me. As most of you know by now I am specialised in the early
    >> history of navigation (1590-1700), researching mainly the wooden
    >> instruments (the astrolabe is the exception on that rule) before
    >> the octant arrived.
    >>
    >> Bauer starts off with the Polynesian latitude hook, giving his
    >> chapter a promising start (although he might have mentioned the use of
    >> hand/fingers for altitude measurements). He then continues with
    >> the Kamal (skipping the earlier Chinese version of that instrument),
    >> before going over to the astrolabe. It is from that point on were he
    >> misses virtually every aspect of the instruments that follow up to the
    >> nocturnal. So his ideas of the astrolabe, the cross-staff and
    >> backstaff/davis quadrant do not reflect proper research, even when
    >> taking in account the year he published his book (figures 1.7 and
    >> 1.8 even show us a Davis Quadrant with the horizon vane assembled in
    >> the wrong way). I could try to sum up the errors/omissions in his
    >> text, but that might take more words than he spent on those instruments in
    >> total......
    >
    > Robert comments:
    >
    > To start with, and at the risk of sounding like I am name-dropping (which is 
    not my intention) Cmdr. Bauer was a close personal friend of mine. The list 
    members should therefore not be be surprised that I take great exception and 
    offence to some of the comments offered by Nicholas de Hilster about 
    "historical errors/omissions...that might take more words than he [Bauer] 
    spent on those instruments in total......"
    >
    > Bauer was first and foremost, a professional and highly experienced mariner 
    and navigator with many years of distinguished service as a Destroyer Captain 
    in the US Navy. After he retired, he maintained his professional 
    qualifications by commanding a research vessel off the coast of Florida. 
    Bauer was also an avid sailor and a keen historian. I know for a fact that he 
    was very well-versed in the history of navigation and in the development of 
    the marine sextant as well as many other aspects of nautical and classical 
    history.
    >
    > Bauer's book was not intended to be an exhaustive treatise on the history of 
    the development of the sextant. The chapter in question was intended to give 
    the reader a brief historical and contextual overview which would lead into 
    the meat of the book: which is sextant maintenance and repair. If you want a 
    history book, consult the local university or write the damn thing yourself, 
    otherwise don't expect to get this kind of exhaustive information from what 
    was essentially meant to be a practical handbook for practical mariners.
    >
    > I'll close by saying that I'm a getting a little fed up with some of the 
    pedantic and petty nit-picking which frequently takes place on this list and 
    most of which seems to originate with navigation scholars as opposed to 
    actual sailors and practical navigators. By all means, we should question and 
    challenge each other for one sword sharpens another, but there are more 
    cicumspect ways of doing this. Slagging someone else's labour is not what I 
    consider to be respectful discourse. Nicholas may not have intended to cause 
    offence with his comments, however, in my opinion, they come off sounding 
    like cheap shots against a man who has passed away and can therefore no 
    longer defend himself. That leaves me to take up the cudgel on his behalf.
    >
    > 'Nuff said.
    >
    >
    > Robert Eno
    
    Robert,
    Thanks I couldn't have said it better myself.
    
    --Scott
    
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