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    Re: Jack Aubrey's fixing of longitude
    From: Geoffrey Kolbe
    Date: 2011 Jun 22, 06:09 +0100

    Wolfgang
    
    Patrick O'Brian has been called, "The greatest historical novelist of
    all time," by the literary critic of The Times. O'Brian's
    descriptions of ships, the way they were sailed and the people who
    sailed in them at the start of the 19th century are universally
    acclaimed for their authenticity. So, with such a high standard of
    scholarship in naval history in evidence elsewhere, are we not
    entitled to expect a similarly high standard of knowledge about early
    19th century astro-navigation methods?
    
    I am not so concerned with actual events. I do not mind if there was
    no lunar occultation of Venus in the Indian ocean in 1804 or
    whenever. But, as with O'Brians working method elsewhere, if he took
    liberty with the timings and even with the placings, he did get the
    details right. I would have hoped he would have done so with a lunar
    occultation - if indeed that is what it was.
    
    That is why I put the question to the list. Perhaps he had got the
    description correct - if lacking in detail - and I was not
    recognizing what the method was he was describing.
    
    Geoffrey Kolbe.
    
    At 23:05 21/06/2011, you wrote:
    
    >This has been a lively discussion - but leading nowhere. Does anyone
    >really believe that Patrick O'Brian had any realistic notion of
    >astronomical navigation - leaving aside the finer points of lunars
    >etc.? What would be the basis of such a belief? Could one show from
    >his books that he had a solid grasp of these matters? He was a
    >gifted writer as far as the actual workings of a ship is concerned;
    >and he was as - a writer - at liberty to shift the actual time (and
    >place) of events if they fitted the tale - and he really did so as
    >he confessed in some forewords. So I wouldn't try to match his
    >writings with actual events.
    >
    >Wolfgang
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