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    Re: the Shovell Disaster
    From: Nicol�s de Hilster
    Date: 2007 Nov 12, 13:58 +0100

    Ted Gerrard wrote:
    > *
    > Regarding my note 3740 relating to the Shovell disaster Nicolas wrote
    > _Where did that number of "7 backstaff noon sights" originate from? It is
    > not based on the article in the UK Times, neither did it come from May's
    > work 'The Last Voyage of Sir Clowdisley Shovel'._
    > To be honest I'm not sure of the question Nicholas poses. Is he asking 
    > whether the _7 observed latitudes_ reported by May (fig 3, p 330 - The 
    > Last Voyage of Sir Cloudisley Shovell) and illustrated on page 149 of 
    > my own recent book, and which were extracted from surviving log books, 
    > were really noon sights taken with a back-staff (Davis Quadrant)?
    > Or is he asking if the sights may have been taken at some other time, 
    > or by some other sort of instrument or even not taken at all, but 
    > merely written into the 7 log books as _observations_ when they were 
    > merely DR estimates? Which might indeed be the case and would explain 
    > why all 7 were biased entirely to the south of the fleets true position.
    > *
    What I indeed want to know is if they were taken with back-staffs (or 
    more specific Davis Quadrants) or with other instruments.
    > *
    > Unfortunately for nigh on 2000 poor souls, none of the fleet 
    > navigators had access to a Newtonian twin-mirrored octant, an 
    > instrument Shovell and the Admiralty were familiar with.
    > *
    That was indeed unfortunate, but then, Newton's instrument never came 
    into production. 'Why not?' remains another question.
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