Saturday, June 11, 2011

“What a facinating, modern age we live in.”

This is a quote from Master and Commander, a terrific movie based on the nautical novels of Patrick O’Brian (yes, this is the correct spelling for his name, though the name usually is spelled O’Brien).  Captain Jack Aubrey is commenting on a new style of ship design, which in the movie is the French ship Acheron, but in reality was the design of the U.S.S. Constitution (Old Ironsides, go and visit her if you’re in Boston).  The books are based during the time of the Napoleonic wars, in the late 1700s/early 1800s.  Sailing in the current day and age is quite different, with all the communications, GPS (Global Positioning System using satellites) and electronics available.  For example, here’s a shot of our computer tracking us in realtime using GPS.  The little boat represents our location, and the boat moves along the chart as we sail along the west coast of Guadeloupe.  However, it’s interesting to note this reminder on the chart: The surveys of Guadeloupe were, with a few exceptions, taken in the 19th century.  So, we’re using 21st century technology to show us where we are on charts that were, in large part, plotted using sextants and lead lines.  What a terrific way to consider the influence of the sailors of yore on our sailing in the present day.

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