A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Alexandre Eremenko
Date: 2021 Mar 24, 18:55 -0700
I am reading the novel of Julian Stockwin "Quarterdeck". (The author is a former professional sailor. The action of the novel is at the time of Napoleonic wars.)
The following situation is described: from a frigate guarding a convoy, a boat was sent on a reconnaissance mission. They encountered a French boat, a fight followed, the British won, but the only navigational aid they had, a boat compass, was destroyed during the fight. Everything happened far from shore, and they have to find the way back to their ship. First they are at complete loss how to find the direction (they remember the bearings of their ship which they took on their way to the place of battle). Then lieutenant Kydd commanding the boat finds his excellent pocket watch in his pocket. And fortunately one of the boat crew is a master mate, Rawson, and the Moon is in the sky. :-)
The rest I quote:
There was discussion of southing, meridians and "the day of her age" and even some awkward arithmetic - but the lost seamen heard voices grow animated with hope. Finally Kydd stood exultant. "Out oars! We're on our way back, lads."
After returning to his ship lieutenant Kydd reports to the captain:
"Brush with th'enemy, sir," Kydd said, as calmly as he could. "Compass knocked t'flinders, had to find some other way back."
"In fog, and at night? I'd be interested to learn what you did, Mr Kydd."
"Caused us quite some puzzling, sir, but I'll stake m'life that Mr Rawson here would be very pleased to explain th'reasoning." Rawson started, then said smugly, "Oh, well, sir, we all knows that f'r any given line o'longitude -the meridian, I mean- the moon will cross just forty-nine minutes after the sun does, and falls back this time for every day. After that it's easy."