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    Re: Polynesian navigation
    From: Wolfgang Köberer
    Date: 2009 Jun 6, 16:54 +0200
    Greg mentioned that Dennis Fisher's "Latitude Hooks and Azimuth Rings" discusses the "Latitude Hook" and JH ("Apache Runner") replied: "The discussion in Latitude Hooks and Azimuth Rings is a bit sketchy and doesn't reference a source directly. If there's a good primary reference, that would be helpful."
     
    Well, there isn't; there can't be. It's just one of those myths that have more lives than a cat. Same as the "Nautical school of Prince Henry at Sagres".
     
    None of the in-depth studies of Polynesian navigation (Akerblom, Sharp, Lewis) discusses such an instrument. And the last navigators that were still practising this "vanishing art" (Ben Finney) did not give their counterparts (David Lewis: Hipour; Steve Thomas: Mau Piailug) a single clue that they were using "latitude hooks" or similar contraptions in their navigation. Even Ben Finney's navigator Nainoa Thompson of Hokule'a fame used latitude methods only after he had taught himself navigation reading astronomy books and taking an astronomy course at his university.
     
    Peter Fogg (Navlist 8525) pointed out the reason for this :"Seems to me that they weren't mechanically minded."
     
    In other words: latitude is no useful or even reasonable concept in traditional Polynesian understanding of the world. But it hasn't been useful in Western civilization for a long time either. Only in the Renaissance did measuring the stars find a practical use. Portolan chart which had been around for at least 200 years only showed latitude scales after 1500.

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