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    Re: Book suggestion, please.
    From: Frank Reed CT
    Date: 2004 Apr 30, 19:19 EDT
    George H wrote:
    "An intelligent geographer finds himself in the position of editing for
    publication a number of logs of sailing-vessel voyages of the early 19th
    century (pre-Sumner).

    He lacks the background of small-boat navigation that so many of us on this
    list enjoy, and admits to knowing little about navigation generally. Yet
    for this editing, he finds that he needs to learn something about the
    basics of navigation, coastal, DR, and celestial. "

    I think the safest bet would be Lecky's 'Wrinkles'. It's authentically 19th century but modern in its outlook and readable prose style. There are also a number of books on the Mystic Seaport library web site that would be worth looking over for terminology and so on. Above all, he should simply start reading logbooks. There are dozens of them on mysticseaport.org. By reading some, he'll get a better sense of the sorts of information that these things contain and the sorts of questions he'll need to ask.

    By the way, Mixter's 'Primer' is wonderful but even the 1943 edition is too late in time.

    In a sense, I think your geographer friend might be better off learning as he goes. That way he won't be reading those logbooks with any pre-conceived notions. For example, you've revealed a common pre-conceived notion above. You note that those logbooks are "pre-Sumner". The significance of the Sumner line in 19th century navigation has been greatly exaggerated by 20th/21st century students of navigation. Nearly the ENTIRE 19th century could be deemed "pre-Sumner" because his analysis was largely ignored by other navigators until the St.-Hilaire method was published and popularized starting at the turn of the next century. I've seen ONE reference to "Sumner's method" in a 19th century logbook and that was in 1878. Similarly, many modern students of navigation have confused ideas about how things were done back then because they've only read about them in navigation manuals like Bowditch. I remember, for example, that someone on the list a few months ago suggested that navigators would have shot lunars "every day" (before chronometers became popular) because that's what he believed Bowditch recommended. Celestial navigators in general greatly over-emphasize the importance of celestial sights over such simple techniques as spotting high mountains, speaking other ships, or crossing into major ocean currents.

    Frank E. Reed
    [ ] Mystic, Connecticut
    [X] Chicago, Illinois

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