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    Re: chronometer question.
    From: George Huxtable
    Date: 2006 May 13, 18:38 -0500

    Frank Reed asked-

    | By the way, George, can you tell us a little more about what  you're
    | with those logbooks and your collaboration with Ian?


    With pleasure.

    My wife Joan has been for many years a serious reader of accounts of
    voyages for exploration and travel, and knows much more about them
    than I do. For many years now, she has been a member of the Hakluyt
    Society, which is a sort of upmarket book club about historical
    travels. It commissions two or three scholarly volumes each year, all
    well larded over with footnotes, which are issued free to members.
    Once Joan has read her fill, and if I have behaved myself
    appropriately, then I am allowed to read them next.

    One of the Hakluyt publications is an edition, in three volumes, of
    the Arctic whaling journals of William Scoresby the younger, by Ian
    Jackson. Ian is a Yorkshireman, with a dry sense of humour, who now
    lives in the US. He is not a navigator, but a geographer. Those who
    are travelling to Mystic will learn something about Scoresby from him.
    I would like to be there too, but that will not be possible.

    The Scoresby volumes, which cover his annual whaling voyages into the
    Greenland Sea, between Greenland and Spitsbergen, are appearing at
    well-spaced intervals. Volume 1, covering 1811 to 1813, appeared in
    2003 (ISBN 0 904180 82 4). Volume 2 is completed and I understand is
    to be published in 2007. Volume 3 is being edited at present. Hakluyt
    Society volumes are available to non-members, through bookshops (or
    libraries, of course).

    William Scoresby the younger was a remarkable character. From the age
    of 10 he had sailed with his father, also named William Scoresby, on
    his annual Arctic whaling voyages. At the age of 21 he was in command
    of his own whaling vessel. He had a scientific and enquiring mind, and
    wrote several books, and many articles, about the oceanography and
    natural history of Arctic waters, and also about questions of
    magnetism, being elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. He was also
    appallingly religious, eventually becoming a church minister, and
    writing dozens of religious tracts.

    Where do I come into this? Well, reading volume 1, I discovered what
    appeared to be an error, in a section about lunar distances. So I got
    in touch with Ian, whose immediate reaction was to suggest that I was
    just the fellow to write an appendix, part of volume 2, about
    Scoresby's Arctic navigation. If nothing else, it would stop me
    complaining about any errors in that volume. That seemed fun, so I
    agreed. And collaborating with Ian has indeed been fun.

    The silly problem, that I have just asked for help about, arose in my
    reading-through of the edited text for Scoresby's 1818 voyage, in
    preparation for volume 3. But I should emphasise that vol.3 is really
    all Ian's work, and I am just acting as a back-stop for

    Scoresby's voyaging was in the era when lunars were giving way to
    chronometer navigation. In volume I, longitudes were by an ordinary
    pocket-watch, backed by occasional lunars. In volume 2, one voyage
    seems to have been without a timekeeper of any sort; perhaps his watch
    had failed. By the next year, he had acquired a chronometer, and
    longitudes had greater certainty.

    As you might guess, Arctic whaling, into the ice, had its moments of
    high drama. There are two occasions, in particular, in vol 2, that are
    absolutely heart-stopping, though the journal itself is rather
    undramatic in the way it describes them. But I would be giving the
    game away to say any more. You will have to hear what Ian has to say
    at Mystic, or read the book when it appears.


    contact George Huxtable at george@huxtable.u-net.com
    or at +44 1865 820222 (from UK, 01865 820222)
    or at 1 Sandy Lane, Southmoor, Abingdon, Oxon OX13 5HX, UK.

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