A Poor Wise Man by Mary Roberts Rinehart

By Mary Roberts Rinehart

A vintage novel of romantic fiction and political research.

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Also because of the winds, he would not have even the vaguest idea of how long the trip might take. If favourable winds turned stormy, he might have to heave aback to change a topmast broken during the storm or to repair a serious leak. But sailors were not just at the mercy of the weather. They also had to rely on inaccurate charts, which could cause them to hit rocks in a fog, and on insufficient markers in the St. Lawrence River, which could cause them to run aground. To further complicate the voyage, the available navigational tools were often subject to human error.

He obtained permission to leave port and paid the various port duties, such as anchorage, beaconage, and light dues. Upon entering or leaving port, he was required to provide a brief statement concerning his cargo. Of course, he would take particular care to read his instructions closely and would fasten a cannon ball to the sack of letters and papers he might have on board. In the event of danger, he would quickly dispatch the weighted sack to the bottom of the sea. In time of war, the captain would request a letter of marque.

19 The positions obtained using the log and compass were only estimates and thus quite imprecise. To compensate for this guesswork, pilots used astronomical observations. 20 Using these instruments, navigators were able to calculate the lines of latitude. 22 That same year in France, Fouchy perfected a mirror instrument "intended primarily to measure the altitude of stars". After 1731, Hadley's octant (figure 24) was used to measure altitude. This reflection instrument, which made simultaneous sightings possible, was less sensitive to the vessel's movements and more accurate than the cross-staff or the English quandrant.

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