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    Women navigators in the age of sail
    From: Don Seltzer
    Date: 2020 Sep 23, 19:44 -0400
    Below is part of a post to another forum that should be of interest.
    The author, Joan Druet, is a noted maritime historian and author, particularly on the role of women in the age of sail.

    Don Seltzer

    “... I would like to point out that it was by no means unusual for the captain's
    wife to be able to navigate.  I got the strong impression that in many
    cases the captain insisted that his wife should know how to do it because
    he did not trust his first mate.  There was also the distinct possibility
    that sickness and death would take away the official navigators -- in 1838
    Mary Dow (*Clement*) was the only one on board well enough to navigate when
    some sort of epidemic laid the officers and captain low.  And the
    newspapers loved the stories of the women who took over command, including
    the navigation of the ship, when the captain fell ill or expired -- some of
    which are true, while others are not.

    By the turn of the century, it was routine for the captain's wife to know
    how to navigate -- in 1891 Honor Matthews sailed to San Francisco to study
    navigation before marrying Captain James Earle (*Charles W*. *Morgan*) In
    1906 Banning Blanchard (*Bangalore*) gave his bride a sextant as a wedding
    present.  She wrote:

    *Banning would be on deck looking at the sun through his sextant while I
    was in the cabin looking at the chronometer.  When he would shout TIME I
    would put down on paper what it said on the chronometer.  Then I would take
    my turn on deck and we would work out the position of the ship and place it
    on the chart.  When the sun was not out during the day we would take the
    sights by the stars at night*.

    Mrs. Cressy's accomplishments are well recorded in the papers, and while it
    was not unusual for her to be able to navigate, she was certainly very good
    at it, consulting Maury's charts when calculating a course.”

    - Joan Druet

       
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