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    Re: Lunars in literature
    From: Hewitt Schlereth
    Date: 2009 Jan 30, 18:56 -0400

    Has anyone searched Moby Dick for lunars, noon sight or sextant? If
    not, sounds like MD may be digitized and sitting somewhere searchable.
    How do I go about it?
    On 1/30/09, George Huxtable  wrote:
    >  Clearly, Google Books has been busy of late digitising American popular
    >  fiction of the 19th century, and d walden has had some fun searching out
    >  references to lunars.
    >  A repeated theme seems to be the rough-and-ready American mariner, rejecting
    >  such gimmicks as lunars and chronometers.
    >  And that seems to have had a resonance in real life, to judge by an account
    >  by Silvio A Bedini, chronicler of American technology. He quotes from
    >  Samuel Eliot Morison,s  "The Maritime History of Massachusetts 1783-1860"
    >  (1921), who noted that even in the early nineteenth century, the position of
    >  a ship was generally still determined by dead reckoning with the use of only
    >  a compass, log line, and deep-sea lead. Among examples of Atlantic voyages
    >  made by American vessels using these traditional methods, he reported that
    >  an American vessel was seized at Christiansand, Norway, because she had
    >  arrived in port without chart or sextant. The ship was freed only after
    >  other American shipmasters in the port protested that they frequently sailed
    >  the width of the Atlantic without those aids, claiming that any comptent
    >  seaman could do so."
    >  And such seat-of-the-pants navigation seems to have applied particularly to
    >  American whalers. Although I can't now recall chaper and verse, I've read
    >  several accounts of merchant vessels being "spoken" by New England whalers,
    >  asking for a position, who hardly knew what ocean they were in. Of course,
    >  whalers were a rather special case. They would make incredible voyages from
    >  New England ports, right through the Pacific and into the Bering Straits,
    >  away for four years or so, only sighting land on the passage round the Horn,
    >  and sometimes not even then. In mid-ocean, they didn't really care exactly
    >  where they were, not making a passage from A to B, but simply wandering in
    >  search of "fish". If these were Sperm whales, these could be anywhere on the
    >  world's oceans.
    >  George.
    >  contact George Huxtable, at  george@hux.me.uk
    >  or at +44 1865 820222 (from UK, 01865 820222)
    >  or at 1 Sandy Lane, Southmoor, Abingdon, Oxon OX13 5HX, UK.
    >  >
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