A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Position-Finding
From: Ed Popko
Date: 2019 Jan 9, 15:22 -0800
I had a similar false start. Moby Dick was a forced college read. Only got to about page 50 and then discovered Cliff Notes (summaries and highlights booklets).
But last year, after Navigation Symposium, I wandered over to the Mystic Seaport gift shop and looked at whaling books. I bought two - "In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex" that Frank referenced, and yes, Moby Dick. It took a couple of months but I did them both. Essex first then MD.
I really liked both of them. MD's cetology (study of whales) was quite something as was the details of life aboard the ship. But this level of detail left me with one big question - how did they navigate three quarters of the way around the world - Nantucket to the mid-Pacific and through some tough island groups off of Milasia. Melvile only mentions Ahab in a navigation sense a couple of times. Seems strange to me. Yes, MD is about whales and one special one. But given the level of detail about the ship and crew and Ahab's behaviour, it's odd there was so little mention of how they know where they were going or searching.