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    Re: Joshua Slocum, Victor Slocum, and lunars
    From: Wolfgang K�berer
    Date: 2009 Mar 3, 17:54 +0100

    Frank wrote:
    "There's also Crowninshield's yacht "Cleopatra's Barge" in 1817 which was
    visited by that famous lunarian expert Baron von Zach who was astounded to
    discover that the whole crew knew and worked lunars."
    Now there's a sweeping statement! And it's mighty exaggerated. Going back to
    what Frank himself has
    "written about all of this on NavList before" in the archive (a neat
    resource, by the way, Frank, say thankya) I found this:
    "'The greatest part of the seamen on board the Barge,' said Mr.
    Crowninshield, 'can use the sextant and make nautical
    calculations.'"[NavList 3333]
    Of course it is a nice story, but not history. So far I have not even been
    able to verify that von Zach actually wrote this. The story (that is: the
    version with the black cook who casually talked about the different methods
    of clearing the distance) is told in a few New England newspapers that say
    von Zach wrote about it in his "Monatliche Korrespondenz". Unfortunately the
    last volume of that publication appeared in 1813 whereas the event
    supposedly happened in 1817, the year when - as can be verified by several
    accounts - "Cleopatra's Barge" was in the Med.
    To use this story as a historical fact - telling us anything about nautical
    proficiency aboard American vessels at that time - one would have
    1) to take at face value that von Zach clearly understood what was said to
    him - and we don't know anything about his command of the English language
    2) we'd have to take at face value that what he was told was true, because
    von Zach doesn't say that he actually saw the greatest part of the seamen
    use the sextant and make nautical calculations.
    Now the assumption that such a statement were true is quite inferior to the
    assumption that Mr. Crowninshield - a man who obviously did not count
    modesty among his weaknesses - tried to impress a European savant by
    boasting about the abilities of his crew.
    To sum it up: This is not PRIMARY SOURCE EVIDENCE (your emphasis, Frank).
    Treating it as such is naive. It is oral history at best and has to be
    weighed carefully instead of taking it at face value.
    Best regards
    Navigation List archive: www.fer3.com/arc
    To post, email NavList@fer3.com
    To unsubscribe, email NavList-unsubscribe@fer3.com

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