Welcome to the NavList Message Boards.


A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding

Compose Your Message

Add Images & Files
    Name or NavList Code:
    Re: Patrick O'Brian series
    From: Tom Sult
    Date: 2014 Jan 14, 12:48 -0600
    Waite... The Star ship Enterprise is a fiction?!!  By the way I find it disappointing that "star dates" are just random numbers. 

    Tom Sult
    Sent from my iPhone

    On Jan 13, 2014, at 22:48, "Don E. Bray" <debray1@mac.com> wrote:

    Bearing in mind that this is a factual discussion of fiction, I too have been intrigued with the series. I have read it completely through once, but not in any particular order. The second time, which I am finishing in Wine Dark Sea, was read in order. The most complete use of sightings was in Desolation island which I have analyzed using Starry Night software and other landmarks to estimate the time of the voyage. O'Brian gives only the day and month irregularly so there is not a complete story. However, using the starting time from the Cannonade.net site and the relationship to Capt. Bligh's troubles in NSW, one can place the Leopard in the Bay of Biscay (pg 71) on 4 April 1811 (fix on Antares) and finally seeing Saturn clear as a bell (pg.274) at Desolation Island 0n 29 January 1812.  This gives a travel time of 270 days which compares well with the data in Harbours and High Seas  for Dutch sailing ships of 129 days Holland to Cape Town.

    My disclaimer is that I am an amateur astronomer (emphases on the qualifier) and not a navigator (I own a A. Hobbs pocket sextant and a boson's pipe) but was interested in seeing how close POB was to real truth, not that he needed to be at all, he is a master story teller. He was wrong on the dates on pg. 262; 12/24/1811 was on a Tuesday not a Wednesday and the error continues on the next page.  

    I made a presentation on this to the local astronomy club and would be happy to furnish the spread sheet for error checking if you will send me a direct request to debray1---.com.

    But, don't forget, this is fiction, like the Starship Enterprise.



    Venus pops in and falls away, 12/17/13 5:43 - 5:55 pm  ...........
    New Arctic images at http://benbray.com/
    Don E. Bray
    Mail P. O. Box 10315, College Station, Texas 77842-0315
    Office/Cellular 979-492-9534

    On Jan 13, 2014, at 08:13 PM, Don Seltzer <timoneer{at}GMAIL.COM> wrote:

    Peter Smith wrote:
    There is a detailed but enigmatic passage in _HMS Surprise_ that was discussed on this list a few years back:
    HMS Surprise; Norton 1991 (paperback); pp. 361-362

    The instruments stood on a carefully leveled patch of sand, and as the great moment approached the tension could be felt even from the tree. A deadly hush fell over the group, broken only by Jack's voice reading off figures to his clerk.

    'Two seven four,' he said, straightening his back at last. 'Mr Storton, what do you find?'

    'Two seven four, sir, exactly.'

    'The most satisfactory observation I have ever made,' said Jack. He clapped the eyepiece to and cast an affectionate glance at Venus, sailing away up there, distinct in the perfect blue once one knew where to look. 'Now we can stow all this gear and go back aboard.'

    He strolled up the beach. 'Such a charming observation, Stephen,' he called out as he came near the tree. 'I am sorry to have kept you so long, but it was worth it. All our calculations tally, and the chronometers were out by twenty-seven mile [sic]. We have laid down the island as exactly...

    I am sorry I was not around for the long and detailed discussion, in June 2011. There was one post, by Wolfgang K. that I believe was spot on.

    This has been a lively discussion - but leading nowhere. Does anyone really believe that Patrick O'Brian had any realistic notion of astronomical navigation - leaving aside the finer points of lunars etc.? What would be the basis of such a belief? Could one show from his books that he had a solid grasp of these matters? He was a gifted writer as far as the actual workings of a ship is concerned; and he was as - a writer - at liberty to shift the actual time (and place) of events if they fitted the tale - and he really did so as he confessed in some forewords.. So I wouldn't try to match his writings with actual events.

    My take on this passage:
    The real purpose of the scene has little to do with navigation. It is actually a brilliant metaphor for a turning point in Jack Aubrey's life. He has previously been torn between two women, the seductress Diana, and the fair Sophie waiting for him back in England. Recent events have made it clear that Sophie is the one he should choose. In mythology, Diana is the moon goddess, and Venus represents love.. So up there in the perfect sky is Venus sailing above the moon,

    'He clapped the eyepiece to and cast an affectionate glance at Venus, sailing away up there, distinct in the perfect blue once one knew where to look. '

    Don Seltzer
    NavList message boards and member settings: www.fer3.com/NavList
    Members may optionally receive posts by email.
    To cancel email delivery, send a message to NoMail[at]fer3.com

    : http://fer3.com/arc/m2.aspx?i=126349

    : http://fer3.com/arc/m2.aspx?i=126353

    Browse Files

    Drop Files


    What is NavList?

    Get a NavList ID Code

    (please, no nicknames or handles)
    Do you want to receive all group messages by email?
    Yes No

    A NavList ID Code guarantees your identity in NavList posts and allows faster posting of messages.

    Retrieve a NavList ID Code

    Enter the email address associated with your NavList messages. Your NavList code will be emailed to you immediately.

    Email Settings

    NavList ID Code:

    Custom Index

    Start date: (yyyymm dd)
    End date: (yyyymm dd)

    Visit this site
    Visit this site
    Visit this site
    Visit this site
    Visit this site
    Visit this site