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    Re: Sumner's Line (Navigation question)
    From: Chuck Taylor
    Date: 2006 Feb 2, 21:43 -0800

    --- Ken Gebhart wrote:
    > Can anyone tell me from historical insight of
    > navigational procedures what course Sumner would
    > have set had he not questioned his first position?
    > In other words would he have turned to go straight
    > through St. George's Channel, or would he have
    > turned to acquire Small's Light first?
    Sumner's own comments on the situation may be found
    in his book, reproduced courtesy of the University
    of Michigan, at
    As I read his commentary, he would have tried to make
    either Small's Light or Tuskar Light before turning.
    "But, as the wind was S.E. when this observation was
    taken, it was preferable to make Small's Light." (See
    page 18 of the above cited work.)
    The narrative in Bowditch suggests that he stalled
    through the night, waiting for daylight to try to
    confirm his position.  As you pointed out, the
    consequences of missing Small's Light to the south
    great, so my guess is that he didn't want to turn
    until he could get some sort of fix on his longitude,
    preferably by sighting a known light.
    I think that the quote you cited:
    > "The
    > DR position was found to be in error by 8 min too
    > far south, giving a longitude of 31 min, 30 sec too
    > far west.  The result to the ship might have been
    > disasterous had this wrong position been adopted".
    was a bit of a dramatization added after the fact. He
    was something like 9 miles farther west than he
    thought, and he probably suspected as much.  In a
    channel that is 30 miles wide and a wind blowing you
    toward a lee shore, that's not a very comfortable
    situation to be in.  I think he would have tried to
    wait until he could get a fix before turning north.
    Best regards,
    Chuck Taylor
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