Saturday, July 1, 2017

Team New Zealand won the 35th America's Cup : the unforgiven

On Friday, 2nd June, Emirates Team New Zealand became the first team to stay up on the foils around the entire racecourse.
After coming very close in their first race of the day, they finally achieved 100% flytime in their race against Groupama Team France.
It was no surprise that the Kiwis were the first, having been remarkably smooth and efficient in their maneuvers since day one.

From Sailing Anarchy by Brian Hancock

The 35th America’s Cup is now history and it ended, as the poet T.S. Eliot once wrote, “Not with a bang but a whimper.”
A whimper from a thoroughly defeated Oracle Team USA who simply could not rise to the occasion.
As I have always said, a little bit of extra boat speed can make you look like a tactical genius and Emirates Team New Zealand had boat speed to burn.
ETNZ could sail deeper downwind and higher upwind while maintaining the same speed as OTUSA and that, my friends, is how you win boat races.

 How the team was preparing after the disappointment of 2013.
This is their story of redemption.

So let’s congratulate Peter Burling and his team.
They did a fine job and are deserved winners of the America’s Cup, but just a quick little aside.
The next time I hear a commentator refer to Mr Burling as the “young” Peter Burling there will be some blood letting.
Ferchristsake Horatio Nelson was just 20 when he took on his first command of the Royal navy.

But I digress.
Last week I wrote a piece about ETNZ secret potion being an intense National Pride, but I was wrong.
Their secret ingredient was the man not at the helm of the boat, but at the helm of the entire operation and I am talking about my old mate Grant Dalton, or Dalts as most people call him.

 Photo credit Onne van der Wal.

We raced together in the 81/81 Whitbread Round the Race, not on the same boat, but all of us racing back in those days were a merry band of brothers.
Dalts was a tousled haired, mustachioed, unassuming person who was quick with a laugh and even quicker with a beer.
I had no idea that he would rise to become one of the most powerful people in sailing and I am guessing that he also had no idea how successful his career would be, but maybe I am wrong.

Dalton’s career was for a long time in the shadow of Peter Blake, the Kiwi superstar who captured the imagination of the New Zealand public by winning the Whitbread and the America’s Cup.
Blake was tall and smooth; Dalton not so much and definitely not smooth.
Blake was knighted for his contribution to sailing.
Let’s see if the Queen nods in the direction of Dalton who surely deserves it, but I think that some of his public comments over the years may disqualify him.

Dalton was never politically correct and he certainly had firm opinions on some issues.
I am thinking of one comment leveled toward the first ever all-female team to race in the Whitbread.
It was the 89/90 Whitbread when Tracy Edwards led her crew aboard Maiden.
Dalton famously stated that if an all-female team ever won a leg of the Whitbread he would shove a pineapple up his arse and walk down Queen Street, the main street in Auckland.
Edwards won the second leg of that race into Fremantle, Australia and to this day none of us is sure whether Dalton kept his word on that one or not.

At the heart of every successful effort you need strong leadership and Grant Dalton has provided the absolute best kind of leadership.
He leads from the front and inspires by example.
It took him four attempts, two as crew and two as skipper, before he won the Volvo Ocean Race, but in the 1993/94 race he dominated aboard New Zealand Endeavour winning three of the six legs and taking the overall win.

He went on to race in three more Volvo Ocean Races before hanging up his oilies and turning his eye toward the America’s Cup.
Dalton led the charge to win the Cup in San Francisco in 2013 and we all know how that ended, but what most don’t know was how close the whole operation came to closing down after that loss.
Much of their backing comes from the New Zealand government and with such a dramatic loss the NZ public were rightfully less interested in chucking piles of money their way.

But Dalton is nothing if not a scrapper.
In 2015 he chose to axe helmsman Dean Barker and replace him with Peter Burling, a move that at the time had many calling for Dalton himself to be fired but let’s admit it, in hindsight, it was pure genius.
It also didn’t help Team New Zealand when Bermuda was announced as the host of the upcoming AC. New Zealand viewed Bermuda as a commercial wasteland.
Through it all Grant Dalton managed to keep it together and the rest, as they say, is history.

So I was very happy when Emirates Team New Zealand closed out the Cup yesterday and I was even more pleased to see Dalton on board one of the most sophisticated sailboats in the world wearing a pair of flip flops, or jandals as the Kiwis like to call them.
My kind of guy and let’s hope that the Queen can forgive him for a few of his less than noble comments over the years.

Links : 

Friday, June 30, 2017

From Ptolemy to GPS, the brief history of maps

Picture : James Yang

From Smithsonian by Clive Thompson

Last spring, a 23-year-old woman was driving her car through the Ontario town of Tobermory.
It was unfamiliar territory for her, so she was dutifully following her GPS.
Indeed, she was so intent on following the device that she didn’t notice that her car was headed straight for Georgian Bay—so she drove down a boat launch and straight into the frigid water.
She thankfully managed to climb out and swim to shore, as her bright red Yaris sank beneath the waves.

Accidents like this have become weirdly common.
In Manhattan, one man followed his GPS into a park, where his car got stuck on a staircase.
And in Europe, a 67-year-old Belgian woman was led remarkably astray by her GPS, turning what was supposed to be a 90-mile drive to Brussels into a daylong voyage into Germany and beyond.
Amazingly, she just patiently followed the computer’s instructions, instead of relying on her own common sense, until she noticed the street signs were in Croatian.

You can laugh, but many of us have stopped paying attention to the world around us because we are too intent on following directions.
Some observers worry that this represents a new and dangerous shift in our style of navigation.
Scientists since the 1940s have argued we normally possess an internal compass, “a map-like representation within the ‘black box’ of the nervous system,” as geographer Rob Kitchin puts it.
It’s how we know where we are in our neighborhoods, our cities, the world.

Is it possible that today’s global positioning systems and smartphones are affecting our basic ability to navigate?
Will technology alter forever how we get around?

Most certainly—because it already has.
Three thousand years ago, our ancestors began a long experiment in figuring out how they fit into the world, by inventing a bold new tool: the map.

One of the oldest surviving maps is, ironically, about the size and shape of an early iPhone: the Babylonian Map of the World.
A clay tablet created around 700 to 500 B.C.
in Mesopotamia, it depicts a circular Babylon at the center, bisected by the Euphrates River and surrounded by the ocean.
It doesn’t have much detail—a few regions are named, including Assyria—but it wasn’t really for navigation.
It was more primordial: to help the map-holder grasp the idea of the whole world, with himself at the center.

A facsimile of the world map by Eratosthenes (around 220 BC).
Eratosthenes is the ancient Greek mathematician and geographer attributed with devising the first system of Latitude and Longitude.
He was also the first know person to calculate the circumference of the earth.
This is a facsimile of the map he produced based on his calculations.
The map shows the routes of exploration by Nearchus from the mouth of the Indus River (325 BC, after the expedition to India by Alexander the Great), and Pytheas (300 BC) to Britannia. Place names include Hellas (Greece), Pontus Euxinus (Black Sea), Mare Caspium (Caspian Sea), Gades (Cadiz), Columnæ Herculis (Gibraltar), Taprobane (Sri Lanka), Iberes (Iberian peninsula), Ierne (Ireland), and Brettania (Britain), the rivers Ister (Danube), Oxus (Amu Darya), Ganges, and Nilus (Nile), and mountain systems.
The map shows his birthplace in Libya (Cyrene), the Egyptian cities of Alexandria and Syene (Aswan) where Eratosthenes made his calculations of the earth's circumference, and the latitudes and longitudes of several locations based on his measurements in stadia.
Place Names: A Complete Map of Globes and Multi-continent, Europa, Libya, Asia, India, Scythia, Arabi

“There was something almost talismanic, I think, about having the world in your hand,” says Jerry Brotton, a professor of Renaissance studies at Queen Mary University of London who specializes in cartography.
Indeed, accuracy wasn’t a great concern of early map-drawers.
Maps were more a form of artistic expression, or a way of declaring one’s fiefdom.
Centuries later, the Romans drew an extensive map of their empire on a long scroll, but since the map was barely a foot high and dozens of feet wide, it couldn’t be realistic.
It was more of a statement, an attempt to make Rome’s sprawl feel cohesive.

The first great attempt to make mapping realistic came in the second century A.D. with Claudius Ptolemy.
He was an astronomer and astrologer obsessed with making accurate horoscopes, which required precisely placing someone’s birth town on a world map.
“He invented geography, but it was just because he wanted to do better horoscopes,” notes Matthew Edney, a professor of cartography at the University of Southern Maine.

Ptolemy gathered documents detailing the locations of towns, and he augmented that information with the tales of travelers.
By the time he was done, he had devised a system of lines of latitude and longitude, and plotted some 10,000 locations—from Britain to Europe, Asia and North Africa.
Ptolemy even invented ways to flatten the planet (like most Greeks and Romans, he knew the Earth was round) onto a two-dimensional map.
What did he call his new technique? “Geography.”

After the Roman Empire fell, Ptolemy’s realistic geography was lost to the West for almost a thousand years.

Once again, maps were concerned more with story­telling: A famous 12th-century map made by the Islamic scholar al-Sharif al-Idrisi—commissioned by his protector and patron, King Roger II of Sicily, a Christian—neatly blended Islamic and Christian cities together, while centering the world on (of course) Roger’s landholdings.

The Hereford World Map: Mappa Mundi
The Hereford World Map, made in around 1300, is recognised by UNESCO as an exceptionally important cultural artefact: the medieval world in one iconic object

Other Christian maps cared even less about accuracy: They were mappaemundi, designed to show how the story of Christ penetrated the world.
The most famous of these was made in Hereford, England—a massive 5- by 4-foot creation drawn on a single animal skin.
Almost none of Europe, Asia or North Africa is recognizable, and strange wonders run amok: A lynx struts across Asia Minor (“it sees through walls and urinates a black stone,” the mapmakers note); Noah’s Ark is perched up in Armenia; Africa is populated by people with eyes and mouths in their shoulders.
At the top of the map—which faced east, the holiest direction—were pictures showing Adam and Eve tossed out of Eden, and Christ returning on the Day of Judgment.
The map wasn’t intended to get you from town to town.
It was designed to guide you to heaven.

As the Renaissance dawned, maps began to improve.
Commerce demanded it—ships were crossing oceans, and kings engaged in empire-building needed to chart their lands.
Technology drove maps to greater accuracy: The advent of reliable compasses helped create “portolan” maps, which had lines crisscrossing the sea from port to port, helping guide sailors.
Ptolemy’s ancient work was rediscovered, and new maps were drawn based on his thousand-year-old calculations.

 1474 map of the Atlantic Ocean according to Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli,
transcribed on a modern map of the Americas.

Indeed, Christopher Columbus’ discovery of America was partly due to Ptolemy—and errors in his cartography.
Columbus carried a map influenced by the ancient Roman’s work.
But Ptolemy thought the world was 30 percent smaller than it actually is; worse, the mapmaker was using Arabian miles, which were longer than Italian ones.
Together these mistakes led Columbus to believe the voyage to Asia would be much shorter.
It was an early example of a GPS-like near disaster.

 An early Spanish explorer, possibly confused by the Baja Peninsula, reported in the 16th century that California was surrounded by water on all sides.
This error was enshrined by the Amsterdam mapmaker Michiel Colijn in 1622, and California was drawn as an island well into the 18th century.

Pierre Mortier's 1703 Nautical Map of the World
with the island of California

As sea trade increased, maps of the New World became better, at least the seacoasts and major rivers, places the beaver trade depended on.
The inland of America was mostly a mystery; mapmakers often draw it as a big blank space labeled “terra incognita.”

“The coastlines were accurate, but they weren’t as concerned about the interiors,” notes John Rennie Short, a professor and cartography expert at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.
“The rest is, like, Who knows? As long as you keep bringing the beavers, we don’t care.”

 Professor Jerry Brotton talking about map projections,
Google Earth and various styles of historic maps.

Sea voyages became easier after 1569, when Gerardus Mercator unveiled the single greatest innovation in mapping after Ptolemy: the Mercator Projection.
A polymath who was equally skilled in engraving and mathematics, Mercator figured out the best trick yet to represent the surface of a globe on a map—by gradually widening the landmasses and oceans the farther north and south they appear on the map.
This was a great aid to navigation, but it also subtly distorted how we see the world: Countries close to the poles—like Canada and Russia—were artificially enlarged, while regions at the Equator, like Africa, shrank.

This was becoming the cardinal rule of maps: “No map entirely tells the truth,” notes Mark Monmonier, author of How to Lie With Maps.
“There’s always some distortion, some point of view.”

 "Geography is the eye of history."
Hakluyt's dedication to Sir Walter Raleigh
in his English trans. of "De orbe novo decades" in 1612.

Indeed, everyday people were realizing that a map was an act of persuasion, a visual rhetoric.
In 1553, gentry in Surrey, England, drew a map of the town’s central fields, to prove these were common lands—and that villagers thus should be allowed to graze animals there.
The map, they wrote, would allow for “the more playne manifest and direct understondying” of the situation.
Maps, says Rose Mitchell, a map archivist at the National Archives of the U.K., were “used to settle arguments.”
Meanwhile, educated people began collecting maps and displaying them “to show off how knowledgeable they were,” she adds.
Even if you couldn’t read the words on a map from a foreign country, you could generally understand it, and even navigate by it.
The persuasive power of a map was its glanceability.
It was data made visual.

 This mountain range, depicted in a stretch near the west coast of Africa, was first drawn up in 1798 by the British cartographer James Rennell and copied throughout most of the 19th century.
Finally, in 1889, a French adventurer went to the region and reported that there were barely even any hills there.

Maps weren’t just symbols of power: They conferred power.
With a good map, a military had an advantage in battle, a king knew how much land could be taxed.
Western maps showing Africa’s interior as empty—the mapmakers had little to go on—gave empires dreamy visions of claiming Africa for themselves: All that empty space seemed, to them, ripe for the taking.
Maps helped propel the depredations of colonialism, as Simon Garfield argues in On the Map.

The United States after Lewis and Clark showed Americans just how much West there was to be won.
Mind you, their trip was hellish: Previous maps were so vague they showed the Rockies as a single mountain range.
“So they thought they were just going to cruise up to it, go over the top, and pop their canoes back in the river and go all the way to Pacific,” laughs David Rumsey, who created Stanford’s map collection in his name.
“And it was a bloody nightmare, up and down, up and down.”

 120 ancient maps from the David Rumsey collection
overlayed on Google Maps in the GeoGarage platform

Maps were so valuable that seafarers plundered them.
When the 17th-century buccaneer Bartholomew Sharp captured a Spanish ship, he exulted over his cartographic haul: “In this prize I took a Spanish manuscript of prodigious value,” he later wrote.
“It describes all the ports, harbors, bayes, Sands, rock & rising of the land....They were going to throw it over board but by good luck I saved it. The Spanish cried when I gott the book.”

France 1750 Cassini map upon Google Maps

By the late 19th century, the surge in mathematic reasoning and measurement technology made mapmaking explode.
In France, the Cassini family crisscrossed the country to calculate its dimensions with precision never before seen.
Their trick?
Using “triangulation”—a bit of trigonometry—to let them stitch together thousands of measurements taken by peering through the new, high-tech “theodolite.”
Breakthroughs in binocular lenses allowed surveyors to measure scores of miles at a glance.
World maps became increasingly accurate.

York, Yorkshire, England.
Used with permission of Verlag Karl Baedeker GMBH.

Local mapping became deeply granular.
The British Ordnance Survey began mapping the U.K. down to the square yard, and the German entrepreneur Karl Baedeker produced similarly nuanced maps of European cities.
Tourists could now confidently tour foreign realms, their annually updated guides in hand, able to locate individual buildings, much like today’s citizens peering at Google Maps on their phones.
Being prominent on a local map was valuable to merchants, so mapmakers in the U.S.
sold the rights.
“If you paid more, you’d get your building cited,” Short notes.
“It was like advertising.”

Maps could change the way people understood the world around them.
In the 1880s, the social reformer Charles Booth produced a moral map of London, with houses color-coded by income and—in Booth’s shaky calculations—criminal tendencies.
(Areas colored yellow were “wealthy,” while black ones were “Lowest class. Vicious, semi-criminal.”)
Booth wanted to help aid the poor by showing geography was tied to destiny, but his techniques wound up reinforcing it: in the U.S., banks began to “redline” poor neighborhoods, refusing to loan money to anyone in their precincts.

By the 20th century, maps helped win the Second World War.
Winston Churchill fought with guidance from his “map room,” an underground chamber where up to 40 military staffers would shove colored pins into the map-bedecked walls; Churchill adorned his bedroom wall with a huge map showing Britain’s coast, constantly visualizing in his mind how to defend it against invasion.

These days, our maps seem alive: They speak, in robotic voices, telling us precisely where to go—guided by the satellites and mapping of companies like Waze, Google, Bing and Mapquest.
“There’s something fun about turn-by-turn directions,” says Greg Milner, author of Pinpoint: How GPS Is Changing Technology, Culture and Our Minds.
“It’s very seductive.”
There’s no need even to orient yourself to north: The robot voice tells you to turn right, turn left, with you always at the center.

Milner worries, though, that GPS is weakening something fundamental in ourselves, corroding not just our orientation skills, but how well we remember the details of the world around us.
A 2008 study in Japan found that people who used a GPS to navigate a city developed a shakier grasp of the terrain than those who consulted a paper map or those who learned the route via direct experience.
Similarly, a 2008 Cornell study found that “GPS eliminates much of the need to pay attention.”
Some map historians agree that a subtle change is at hand.
Short tells me that he likes the convenience of GPS-brokered directions—“but what I do lose is the sense of how things hang together.”

Rumsey isn’t convinced of this loss, though.
As he argues, the convenience of GPS and online mapping means we live in an increasingly cartographic age.
Many online searches produce a map as part of the search results—for a local store, a vacation spot, live traffic updates before heading home.
People today see far more maps in a single day than they used to, Rumsey notes: “The more you interact with maps, the more agile you become. Maps beget more maps.”
When Rumsey first started collecting and displaying maps in the 1970s, people said, Why bother? These are old and out of date; who cares?
Now when people visit his collection at Stanford they “get it right away.
That’s because they’ve been exposed.”

 City mapmakers have long worried about their work being copied by competitors, so they include misnamed streets and walkways (like London’s Bartlett Place).
Moat Lane, a fictitious street in North London that originated in the TeleAtlas directory, was temporarily marked on Google Maps.

It’s possible both effects are true.
When I decide to order some takeout, my phone will—like a robot Baedeker—generate a map of local places that are open.
It’s true that if I walked to one, I’d just numbly be following zigzagging turn-by-turn directions.
But on the other hand, I look at that little gustatorial mappamundi of my neighborhood pretty often; I could probably draw it from memory by now.

Technology hasn’t changed some of our oldest urges.
The historian Brotton once visited Google, where the engineers showed him a huge, wall-sized version of Google Earth.
They asked him, whenever a visitor shows up to try it out, what’s the first thing they zoom in to look for?
Their own home.
“They go, wow, look at that!” Brotton says.
It’s the same perspective as the people who held that Babylonian clay tablet nearly three millennia ago: using a map to figure out where, exactly, we stand.

Links :

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The real pirates of the Caribbean

From CNN by Chris Scott

Pirates have been a part of popular culture ever since they first appeared on the high seas with aspirations for fortune, fame and glory.
Stories about the exploits of pirates fascinated the people of the 17th and 18th centuries.
Even 300 years later, the tales of Long John Silver, Captain Hook and Jack Sparrow are as popular now as they've ever been.
But are these depictions of pirates based on reality?
Was there really an X on the map, buried treasure, a black flag with a skull and crossbones flapping in the wind?
Did duels to the death really take place between naval authorities and these wild men of the seas?
It turns out yes.
But the real stories are more amazing that anything seen on the big screen.
'I am a man of fortune, and must seek my fortune'

Captain Henry Avery: One of the most famous pirates of all time.

If one man can be said to have inspired the so-called Golden Age of Piracy, it's Captain Henry Avery.
In his book, "The Republic of Pirates," Colin Woodard writes that Avery's "adventures inspired plays and novels, historians and newspaper writers, and, ultimately the Golden Age pirates themselves."
"He was a really important inspiration and symbol to the subsequent generation who became the Golden Age pirates," Woodard tells CNN.
"Part of the reason is that Henry Avery became a pop culture phenomenon when these other pirates would have been children and teenagers."
By the time they were young men, Avery was a legend.
A sailor aboard a merchant vessel, Avery, like many other sailors, was getting increasingly disillusioned with the way the system worked.
"Sailors were so badly treated in many of these merchant vessels by the captains and owners," Woodard says.
"They were given lousy rations, cheated out of their pay at the end of journeys, often fed spoiled food and placed on vessels that intentionally didn't have enough provisions on board."
Enough was enough.
In 1694 Avery rounded up others to the cause of freedom, riches and glory and seized a ship under the cover of darkness while its captain, Charles Gibson, was sleeping in his quarters.
Avery placed Gibson in a rowboat before sailing away, reportedly telling him: "I am a man of fortune, and must seek my fortune."

Map of America 1708

Rumor and myth

Avery and his crew sailed for the Indian Ocean, using Madagascar as their base of operations.
Soon they came across and took a ship belonging to an Indian emperor.
Accounts vary on what happened aboard the ship but they all agree on one thing -- Avery made off with staggering haul of money, jewels, gold, silver and ivory, worth more than $200 million today.
Avery had his fortune and each member of his crew received the equivalent of 20 years of wages aboard a merchant vessel.
With his ship laden with treasure and naval forces all over the world scrambling to track him down, Avery sailed for the Bahamas where he bribed the governor of Nassau with ivory and weapons into allowing him to ditch his ship and take a smaller vessel, bound for Europe.
Landing in Ireland, he bid his crew farewell.
Then he and his plunder disappeared into history, never to be heard from again.
Rumor and myth surrounds Avery's fate.
One report claimed Avery died a beggar, cheated out of his fortune.
Another had him returning to Madagascar as king of the pirates, ruling over a piratical empire with a squadron of ships commanded from a fortified palace.
"Avery is one of the very few who turned full pirate and got away with it," Matt Albers of the Pirate History Podcast says.
"He just disappeared into the winds of history.
"It might be that he died as a penniless beggar on the streets of London or he may have died with a fabulous kingdom out in the jungle somewhere.
"No one is entirely sure what happened to him. But we do know that he was never taken by the authorities."
Getting away with it was a 17th-century thing.
For the men he inspired in the early 18th century there would be few, if any, happy endings.
"The thing about those famous pirates is that all of them got caught," Albers says.
"At some point they had a run in with the authorities that didn't go well for them."

The golden age of piracy

A map of the Caribbean depicting some of the pirates' bases and the location of significant events. 

David Wilson, an academic specializing in historical piracy, says authorities tried to push stories of piratical downfall as a deterrent.
"Really they're trying to publicize that piracy ends in death," he says.
"The message is these men meet their doom through piracy to try to discourage any future pirates."
And there were plenty to choose from.
"Black Sam'" Bellamy, for example, was a rising star in the pirate world, calling himself "the Robin Hood of the Seas."
In 1715, at the age of 26, as captain of his own ship, the Whydah, he was the most feared man up and down the Americas.
Having amassed a small fortune and a reputation for being unbeatable, he was sailing for Cape Cod in 1717 when disaster struck.
"Cape Cod had a weather system that would drive ships against the brutal cliffs of sand and shoals," Woodard explains.
The Whydah was caught in a storm and ran aground with shocking force and sank with its treasure still on board. Some 160 men perished and Bellamy's body was never recovered.
Newspapers of the day claimed God had punished him for becoming a pirate.
Another famous story is that of Calico Jack Rackham, named for the flamboyant Calico clothing he liked to wear.
As a pirate, Rackham was pretty unsuccessful.
He was captured quite easily in 1720 and hanged.
His flag fared better.
It's the one we all associate as the pirate flag, the skull and crossbones, the Jolly Roger.
Made famous by Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island."
"They all had different flags and black flags with all these different symbols on," Wilson says.
"They all had symbols of death in some way or other just to enact fear in ships.
"If you could throw that flag up and the ship gives in without a fight you're doing much better than if you had to then engage with them."

Engraving of female pirates Anne Bonny and Mary Read holding swords.

The female pirates

Rackham is also famous for the company he was keeping when he was arrested: Mary Read and Anne Bonny, the only known female pirates of the era.
"There was Ching Shih in China but she wasn't so much a pirate as a pirate queen who ran a pirate empire," Albers says.
"The same with Grace O'Malley in Ireland, less an actual pirate and more someone who ran the pirates' base."
Rackham's female crewmates helped cement his own myth and legend, Wilson adds.
"A lot is made out of the female pirates, there were some but they were an anomaly, as were any women on sailing ships at that time," says Charles Ewen, professor of anthropology at East Carolina University.
"Usually they were just passengers, but there were female sailors from time to time. But for the most part they were a disruptive influence."
Read and Bonny were to be tried on charges of piracy and surely hanged.
But, knowing that expectant mothers were exempt from the gallows, both women seduced guards while being held captive and fell pregnant.
"Their histories are fairly short and I think that the reason they're so popular is because of their trial," Albers explains.
Their arrest and the subsequent escape from the noose was big news in the London press at the time, but no one got more coverage than the notorious Edward Teach, the most fearsome of all the Golden Age Pirates.
A man more commonly referred to as Blackbeard.

In this woodcarving you can see the lighted fuses Blackbeard would keep in and around his beard so that during battle a demonic halo of sparks, fire and smoke would surround him.

Image of terror

"The interesting thing about Blackbeard is, if you were doing a ledger of who got the most treasure and was the most successful in monetary terms or plunder terms Blackbeard wouldn't make your top 10 list at all," Woodard says.
"But he is by far the most famous real pirate who ever lived, and the reason is that he cultivated this image of terror."
Blackbeard ruled the seas through fear.
He let his beard grow wild and long, wore clothes stolen from aristocrats and cultivated an image of a wild man in gentlemen's fittings.
"You had all these pirates with bandoliers and grenades and axes wearing a gentleman's wig or a woman's silk dress or scarves and all this finery." Woodard says.
"His fellow pirates would be dressed up like a 'Mad Max' movie."
During battle, Blackbeard would also put lighted fuses in and around his beard, giving him a demonic halo of sparks, fire and smoke.
"It would be utterly terrifying to people on another vessel. And that was the whole point," Woodard says.
Blackbeard also had serious firepower.
"Blackbeard put 40 cannon on his ship, the Queen's Anne Revenge, and that was so he could sail up, run up the black flag, which apparently they really did, and then scare the folks into saying, 'Ok I give up, don't kill us,'" Ewen says.
"You wanted to have a scary reputation."

Duel to the death

Blackbeard's scare tactics were so successful that there's no documented account of him killing or hurting anybody.
Everybody just simply gave up.
Until his final fatal battle with Britain's Royal Navy in 1718.
"It was the gallant young Lieutenant Robert Maynard who was leading the detachment of sailors charged with finding Blackbeard," Woodard explains.
"This is precisely where Robert Louis Stevenson and later the Disney movies and pop culture -- this is exactly the famous scene from where all this was constructed.
"Blackbeard's battle was the model for your cliche shipboard fight between the dashing young officer and the rogue pirate," Woodard continues.
Blackbeard and his men boarded Maynard's ship.
Cutlass in one hand, pistol in the other, Blackbeard engaged the lieutenant in a duel to the death.
Maynard shot Blackbeard, but the pirate carried on fighting furiously with his cutlass, Maynard's own sword breaking as he tried to stave him off.
As Blackbeard was about to deliver the final blow, one of Maynard's men delivered the pirate a "terrible wound in the neck and throat."
Maynard then shot Blackbeard again in the stomach and though he cocked his pistol ready to return fire, he fell down dead before he could.
Maynard decapitated Blackbeard and hung his head from the front of his ship.
He sailed up the east coast of America, causing shockwaves as news spread that the notorious Edward Teach had perished in battle.
"There was only one newspaper in what is now the United States, the Boston Newsletter and they covered it exhaustively, as did the London papers at the time.
It was the big media phenomenon of the early 18th century," Woodard says.


The Blackbeard mystery

Yet there remains a mystery with Blackbeard -- the whereabouts of his journal.
The journal was recovered by Maynard and used as evidence to try Blackbeard's captured crew on charges of piracy.
But after the trial, the journal, along with court documents, vanished from history.
"People have been looking for it for years," David Moore, a nautical archaeologist says.
Under protocols of the time, there should have been a copy of the documents in the place of trial and another sent back to the Admiralty in London.
"For whatever reason that copy was never sent or it disappeared or it got lost in the filing system," Moore says.
"Certainly if it had been misfiled somebody would have stumbled across it by now. It would have been too fascinating a document even though they were probably looking for something else.
"To me that's odd," Moore says.
Recovering the documents would likely be one of the most significant finds in pirate archaeology.
Who knows, perhaps there's even a map inside with an X that marks the spot.
But those who took it died a long time ago -- and dead men tell no tales.

Links :

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Caution required when using nautical charts of Arctic Waters

New nautical chart on Svalbard (Kartverket Norway)
nr. 541 Nordporten–Sjuøyane, May 4, 2017

From Hydro
As members or associate members of the Arctic Regional Hydrographic Commission (ARHC) and as Member States of the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), the government Hydrographic Offices of Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation and the United States of America wish to highlight the significant limitations and risks associated with marine navigation in the Arctic.

While official nautical charts are produced by government hydrographic offices and are based on the latest information available, substantial areas still rely on limited, outdated, or insufficient depth and other data.

Sjokartverket survey vessel Hydrograf in the Arctic with polar bear.
Image courtesy: Norwegian Hydrographic Service.

Plan and Sail with Care

Due to the significant limitations of Arctic charting, all mariners in Arctic waters are required to plan well in advance of any prospective voyages, to understand their environment, and to exercise extreme caution when on the water, in order to minimise the associated high levels of risk.
Caution is equally essential when navigating with Electronic Navigational Charts (ENC), as these official digital charts are based on the same limited or insufficient data as the official paper or electronic equivalent charts.

Navigating outside areas supported by modern or adequately surveyed data, and without advanced and comprehensive voyage planning, ice experience, knowledge, and precautions, can result in the loss of human life and severe damage to property and the environment.

To fulfil the relevant requirements of demonstrating that they have recognised and mitigated the risks, as well as exercised due diligence in the operation of their vessels, all mariners and ship operators should take note of the warnings set out here and in other references, including in the International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (The Polar Code).

Interested readers are encouraged to contact the IHO Secretariat or the Hydrographic Offices of the ARHC Member States with any comments or feedback, as part of the efforts of the Arctic hydrographic community to improve safety of navigation and operations in the region.

Links :

History: June 27, 1898 – Joshua Slocum arrives in Newport, becomes 1st man to sail single-handedly around the world

'The Spray'
From WhatUpNewp by Ryan Belmore

Did you know that the first solo circumnavigation of the globe was completed in Newport, Rhode Island on this day 119 years ago?

Captain Joshua Slocum, a native of Novia Scotia, completed the feat on June 27th, 1898.
On April 24, 1895, at the age of 51, he departed Boston in his tiny sloop Spray , a 36′ 9″ gaff rigged sloop oyster boat, and sailed around the world single-handed.

In his famous book, Sailing Alone Around the World, now considered a classic of travel literature, he described his departure in the following manner:

“I had resolved on a voyage around the world, and as the wind on the morning of April 24, 1895 was fair, at noon I weighed anchor, set sail, and filled away from Boston, where the Spray had been moored snugly all winter. The twelve o’clock whistles were blowing just as the sloop shot ahead under full sail. A short board was made up the harbor on the port tack, then coming about she stood to seaward, with her boom well off to port, and swung past the ferries with lively heels. A photographer on the outer pier of East Boston got a picture of her as she swept by, her flag at the peak throwing her folds clear. A thrilling pulse beat high in me. My step was light on deck in the crisp air. I felt there could be no turning back, and that I was engaging in an adventure the meaning of which I thoroughly understood.”

According to Slocum in Sailing Alone Around the World;

After an extended visit to his boyhood home at Brier Island and visiting old haunts on the coast of Nova Scotia, Slocum departed North America at Sambro Island Lighthouse near Halifax, Nova Scotia on July 3, 1895.

Slocum intended to sail eastward around the world, using the Suez Canal, but when he got to Gibraltar he realized that sailing through the southern Mediterranean would be too dangerous for a lone sailor because of the piracy that still went on there at that time. So he decided to sail westward, in the southern hemisphere. He headed to Brazil, and then the Straits of Magellan. At that point, he was unable to start across the Pacific for forty days because of a storm. Eventually, he made his way to Australia, sailed north along the east coast, crossed the Indian Ocean, rounded the Cape of Good Hope, and then headed back to North America.

Slocum navigated without a chronometer, instead relying on the traditional method of dead reckoning for longitude, which required only a cheap tin clock for approximate time, and noon-sun sights for latitude. On one long passage in the Pacific, Slocum also famously shot a lunar distance observation, decades after these observations had ceased to be commonly employed, which allowed him to check his longitude independently. However, Slocum’s primary method for finding longitude was still dead reckoning; he recorded only one lunar observation during the entire circumnavigation.

Slocum normally sailed the Spray without touching the helm. Due to the length of the sail plan relative to the hull, and the long keel, the Spray was capable of self-steering (unlike faster modern craft), and he balanced it stably on any course relative to the wind by adjusting or reefing the sails and by lashing the helm fast. He sailed 2,000 miles (3,200 km) west across the Pacific without once touching the helm.

More than three years later, on June 27, 1898, he arrived in Newport, having circumnavigated the world, a distance of more than 46,000 miles.
Slocum’s return went almost unnoticed.
The Spanish–American War, which had begun two months earlier, dominated the headlines.
After the end of major hostilities, many American newspapers published articles describing Slocum’s amazing adventure.

This historic achievement made him the patron saint of small-boat voyagers, navigators and adventurers all over the world.
“Single-handed” does not imply “non-stop”, so a single-handed circumnavigation counts as such even with stops, as in Joshua Slocum’s voyage

On November 14, 1909, Slocum set sail for the West Indies on one of his usual winter voyages.
He had also expressed interest in starting his next adventure, exploring the Orinoco, Rio Negro and Amazon Rivers.
Slocum was never heard from again.
In July 1910, his wife informed the newspapers that she believed he was lost at sea.
In 1924, Joshua Slocum was declared legally dead.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A map that fills a 500-million year gap in Earth’s history

We now have a map of plate tectonics for the period 1,000-520 million years ago.
The colours refer to where the continents lie today.
Light blue = India, Madagascar and Arabia, magenta = Australia and Antarctica, white = Siberia, red = North America, orange = Africa, dark blue = South America, yellow = China, green = northeast Europe.

From The Conversation by Alan Collins (University of Adelaide) and Andrew Merdith (University of Sydney)

Earth is estimated to be around 4.5 billion years old, with life first appearing around 3 billion years ago.

To unravel this incredible history, scientists use a range of different techniques to determine when and where continents moved, how life evolved, how climate changed over time, when our oceans rose and fell, and how land was shaped.
Tectonic plates – the huge, constantly moving slabs of rock that make up the outermost layer of the Earth, the crust – are central to all these studies.

Along with our colleagues, we have published the first whole-Earth plate tectonic map of half a billion years of Earth history, from 1,000 million years ago to 520 million years ago.

The time range is crucial.
It’s a period when the Earth went through the most extreme climate swings known, from “Snowball Earth” icy extremes to super-hot greenhouse conditions, when the atmosphere got a major injection of oxygen and when multicellular life appeared and exploded in diversity.

Now with this first global map of plate tectonics through this period, we (and others) can start to assess the role of plate tectonic processes on other Earth systems and even address how movement of structures deep in our Earth may have varied over a billion year cycle.

The Earth moves under our feet

The modern Earth’s tectonic plate boundaries are mapped in excruciating detail.

Modern plate tectonic boundaries.But how do we map the Earth like this in the past?
NASA's Earth Observatory

In the modern Earth, global positioning satellites are used to map how the Earth changes and moves.
We know that up-welling plumes of hot rock from over 2,500 km deep in the planet’s mantle (the layer beneath the Earth’s crust) hit the solid carapace of the planet (the crust and the top part of the mantle).
This forces rigid surface tectonic plates to move at the tempo of a fingernail’s growth.

On the other side of the up-welling hot rock plumes are areas known as subduction zones, where vast regions of the ocean floor plunge down into the deep Earth.
Eventually these down-going oceanic plates hit the boundary between the core and mantle layers of Earth, about 2,900 km down.
They come together, forming thermal or chemical accumulations that eventually source these up-welling zones.

It’s fascinating stuff, but these processes also create problems for scientists trying to look back in time.
The planet can only be directly mapped over its last 200 million years.
Before that, back over the preceding four billion years, the majority of the planet’s surface is missing, as all the crust that lay under the oceans has been destroyed through subduction.
Oceanic crust just doesn’t last: it’s constantly being pulled back deep into the Earth, where it’s inaccessible to science.

This animation shows the plate tectonic evolution of the Earth from the time of Pangea, 240 million years ago, to the formation of Pangea Proxima, 250 million years in the future.
The animation starts with the modern world then winds it way back to 240 million years ago (Triassic).
The animation then reverses direction, allowing us to see how Pangea rifted apart to form the modern continents and ocean basins.
When the animation arrives back at the present-day, it continues for another 250 million years until the formation of the next Pangea, "Pangea Proxima".
Notice how the areas of green (land), brown (mountains), dark blue (deep sea), and light blue (shallow seas on continents), changes throughout time.
These changes are the result of mountain-building, erosion, and the rise and fall of sea level throughout time.
The white patches near the pole are the expanding and contracting polar icecaps.

Mapping the Earth in deep time

So what did we do to map the Earth in deep time?
To get at where plate margins were and how they changed, we looked for proxies – or alternative representations – of plate margins in the geological record.

We found rocks that formed above subduction zones, in continental collisions, or in the fissures where plates ripped apart.
Our data came from rocks found in locations including Madagascar, Ethiopia and far west Brazil.
The new map and associated work is the result of a couple of decades of work by many excellent PhD students and colleagues from all over the world. 

We now have more details, and a view to way further back in geological time, than were previously available for those studying the Earth.

Using other methods, the latitudes of continents in the past can be worked out, as some iron-bearing rocks freeze the magnetic field in them as they form.
This is like a fossil compass, with the needle pointing into the ground at an angle related to the latitude where it formed — near the equator the magnetic field is roughly parallel to the Earth’s surface, at the poles it plunges directly down.
You can see this today if you buy a compass in Australia and take it to Canada: the compass won’t work very well, as the needle will want to point down into the Earth.
Compass needles are always balanced to remain broadly horizontal in the region that they are designed to work in.

But, these so-called “palaeomagnetic” measurements are hard to do, and it is not easy finding rocks that preserve these records.
Also, they only tell us about the continents and not about plate margins or the oceans.

The cool, rigid, outer layer of the earth, the lithosphere,
is broken into massive plates along discrete boundaries.
What are these plates, and what do the boundaries represent?

Why map ancient plate tectonics?

The lack of ancient tectonic maps has posed quite a problem for how we understand our Earth.

Tectonic plates influence many processes on Earth, including the climate, the biosphere (the sphere of life on the outer part of the planet), and the hydrosphere (the water cycle and how it circulates around the planet and how its chemistry varies).

By simply redistributing tectonic plates, and thereby moving the positions (the latitudes and longitudes) of continents and oceans, controls are placed on where different plants and animals can live and migrate.

Plate boundary locations also govern how ocean currents redistribute heat and water chemistry. Different water masses in the ocean contain subtly different elements and their various forms, known as isotopes.
For example, water in the deep oceans was often not at the surface for many many thousands of years, and has different composition from the water presently on the ocean’s surface.
This is important because different water masses contain different amounts of nutrients, redistributing them to different parts of the Earth, changing the potential for life in different places.

Tectonic plates also influence how much of the Sun’s radiation gets reflected back out to space, changing the Earth’s temperature.

How fast tectonic plates move have also varied over time.
At different periods in Earth history there were more mid-ocean volcanoes than there are today, creating water movement such as pushing up ocean waters over the continents.
At these times, some types of volcanic eruptions were more frequent, pumping more gas into the atmosphere.

Mountain ranges form as tectonic plates collide, which affect oceanic and atmospheric currents as well as exposing rocks to be eroded.
This locks up greenhouse gases, and releases nutrients into the ocean.

Understand ancient plate tectonics and we go someway to understanding the ancient Earth system. And the Earth as it is today, and into the future. 

Links :

Monday, June 26, 2017

Kiwi yacht owner blames outdated charts for Fiji shipwreck

The yacht has been abandoned to the sea after running aground on a Fijian atoll.
Photo/Ben Dreuvakanabalawa -Fiji Navy

From NZ Herald

The Kiwi owner of a yacht shipwrecked on a reef in Fiji says his nautical charts told him the reef was about 5km away - just before the boat hit it.

Four New Zealanders were on the yacht Jungle when it ran aground on Friday morning, stranding them on a remote atoll.
Geoff Marsland, founder of Wellington's iconic Havana Coffee, and Fidel's Cafe co-owner Roger Young were aboard, with yacht owner Peter McLean and his son.

The yacht left Picton on June 15, bound for Tonga.
The crew changed tack for Fiji when the boat's backstay broke.

 Tuvana-I-Ra on the GeoGarage platform (SHOM chart)

 Tuvana-I-Ra on the GeoGarage platform (UKHO 2691-1 chart)

Tuvana-I-Ra on the GeoGarage platform (Linz chart)

Tuvana-I-Ra on the GeoGarage platform (83580A NGA nautical chart, scale 1:350 000)
note : the shift with positionning
(around 1,75 NM between the nautical map and the satellite imagery) 

Tuvana-I-Ra with Google satellite imagery

Early on Friday it hit the isolated reef off Tuvana-I-Ra, more than 400km from Fiji's capital, Suva.
The men managed to make it ashore but their boat was smashed up on the reef.

Marsland told Fairfax the ordeal was like "Survivor in real life", with the four inhabitants of the island initially thinking the men were armed pirates.
But after they found out the men were Kiwis they were extremely hospitable, cooking up a couple of wild chickens for dinner and providing beds and warm clothes.
In return the Kiwis gave their hosts what they could salvage from the yacht including linen, alcohol and a bicycle, Marsland told Fairfax.

In an interview with the Fiji Sun boat owner Peter McLean said the sailors were navigating the reef at high tide when the accident happened.
"The plotter and the radar both said we were three miles off but the two plotters were incorrect by three miles so we just hit the edge of the reef," he said.
"The charts are outdated, they all need to be updated. It should have been done before now . . . If the charts were correct it never would have happened."

Fiji Navy patrol boat the Kula picked the four men up on Saturday and they arrived in Suva about 8.30 this morning.
All four are now safe and well in Suva, the New Zealand High Commission said.
High Commissioner Mark Ramsden says the men were looked after very well by the Fiji Navy and had not requested consular assistance with accommodation or flights home.

Links :

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Bridge 2017 : Queen Mary II, how to enter in a shoe box

Queen Mary 2 to race lightweight trimarans in The Bridge 2017
The race will mark the 100th anniversary
of American troops landing in France during World War I.

The data of the issue : Queen Mary (345  m / 41 m) versus the Joubert lock (350 m / 50 m.) 
The ship must enter in for parking...

In front of the Joubert lock

Ready to enter

That's it !

 Views from W4D 2.0 iOS mobile app with display of the dimensions of the ship.

You can notice some shift in the display of the ship localization, probably due to the unspecified manually registered data setting sent by the QM2 AIS transceiver (XY offset of the AIS GPS antenna position compared to the ship geometry) : see reference point.
The width for display is the waterline beam (41 m) and not the one at the bridge level (45 m).
Length: 1,132 ft (345.03 m)
Beam :135 ft (41 m) waterline VS 147.5 ft (45.0 m) extreme (bridge wings)

so a difference of width of 4 m, around 8% of the Joubert lock width.
Ship dimensions and AIS GPS antenna reference point should be obtained from AIS Class A within a 1 minute (in worst cases it might be up to 6 minutes by AIS IEC 61993 Ed2 standard).
It is recommended to use the ‘Conning Station’ position at the midship line,
Conning Station reference point (CRP) is the main reference point and GPS data recalculates to the specified Conning Station Position.

MarineTraffic view

 other view with Vessel Tracker and OpenStreetMap

Comparison with Navionics display with a lock width of 25 m...

 Position of the QM2 received by the own AIS antenna
installed in the GeoGarage offices in Nantes

SHOM largest scale raster chart (6797 1:15 000 in overzoom) issued from the GeoGarage platform
overlaid on Google Maps imagery

 SHOM ENC largest scale chart (FR567970 1:12000)  issued from the GeoGarage platform
overlaid on Google Maps imagery