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    Re: Lunars: an epitaph and an obituary
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2009 Jul 16, 18:48 -0700

    Hi Fred, you wrote:
    "Slocum DOCUMENTED but one lunar that he shot during his circumnavigation.  We 
    don't know how many he shot, although available evidence, his book, suggests 
    he shot only that one."
    There's more evidence than that in the form of a letter written in the shade 
    of a plam tree on a beach in the Keeling-Cocos islands (in the Indian Ocean, 
    south of Sumatra) and mailed home to New York in August of 1897. Slocum was 
    more than two-thirds of the way through his solo circum-navigation, and he 
    wrote how impressed he was by the accuracy of his landfalls despite the fact 
    that he carried no chronometer and despite the fact that he had taken only 
    one lunar observation on the whole voyage up to that point. The letter was 
    collected by Walter Teller and included in his detailed biography "Joshua 
    Slocum" published in 1971. Teller took no interest in Slocum's navigational 
    methods and quoted this letter mostly because Slocum continues on in it 
    musing about starting a sea-going navigation "college ship" for young women 
    when he returns to America. It sounds like he wants a great sailing ship 
    filled with beautiful women, sailing the seven seas, where he is the sole 
    instructor in celestial navigation. Now there's a plan hatched on a tropical 
    It's possible that Slocum became a born-again lunarian the very next day after 
    he wrote his letter, and maybe he shot many lunars after that, but the 
    descriptions of his navigational methods in "Sailing Alone Around the World" 
    after that date are strictly traditional DR, so if was "born again", he 
    certainly kept it a secret. We could also entertain a "statistical model" and 
    hypothesize that his rate of taking lunars was equal to the rate in the 
    earlier portion of the voyage in which case there would be a 50% chance that 
    he shot another in the remainder of the voyage after that letter was sent.
    PS: "Joshua Slocum" by Walter Teller, Rutgers University Press, 1971. The text 
    of the letter is on pages 147 to 149, and a photo of the first page of the 
    letter is on page 85.
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