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    Re: Master & Commander
    From: Kieran Kelly
    Date: 2003 Dec 10, 21:03 +1100

    Thank you all for your learned comments on Master and Commander in response
    to my original post. However I  should clear up some points.
    
    1) In neither the book nor the film was it suggested that the noon sight was
    used for an accurate fix of time or of longitude. It seemed to be a ritual
    whereby:
    
    > The ships bell was rung signifying noon had occurred and the new day begun
    
    > The fore-watch ended and the men were piped to the midday meal
    
    > The glass was turned providing a rough measure of time - local ship's
    time.
    
    > The captain said "Make it So" and sun altitudes were read for latitude.
    
    It appeared to me to be more about ritual and going to lunch than it was
    about accurate time and longitude.
    
    However one point is worth noting. Many sextants I have seen from the 19th
    century had a small block on the arc which preceded the arm as it was wound
    out. As the sun began to sink the block stayed on the arc indicating maximum
    travel of the arm. The block was then screwed tight and the arm moved back
    to this position and the elevation  read. Maybe this is why they continued
    reading until the sun had dipped below the horizon - then there was no doubt
    that maximum elevation  was reached.
    
    I didn't include in my initial post all the inaccuracies I saw only the
    major ones. If anyone is interested some others are:
    > When a Napoleonic era warship "beat to quarters" a liberal covering of
    sand was spread on the decks to soak up blood and viscera.
    
    > Also covers called "fearnought screens" were placed over the hatches to
    prevent sparks falling into the magazines
    
    > A netting was rigged amidships above the main-deck gunners to prevent them
    being brained by falling blocks and spars
    
    >When a man was killed during action he was immediately heaved overboard.
    This was to prevent congestion on the fighting decks but also the problem
    once more of a slippery deck caused by excess gore. The only ones sewn into
    the canvas and ritually buried were those who died below in the surgery or
    survived the action but died thereafter.
    
    None of the above formalities were observed in the film.
    
    Also close observation would show that the guns on Aubrey's "Surprise" in
    the film were fired with flintlocks. I thought Napoleonic era cannon were
    fired with a slow-match applied directly to the touch hole. Can anyone help
    me here?
    
    I would welcome any comments.
    
    Kieran Kelly
    
    6 David Place
    Seaforth 2092
    Sydney
    
    
    ph     612 99079610
    fax    612 99078232
    mob  0411 261607
    
    
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    Kieran Kelly
    
    
    

       
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