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The Ships and Shipping Short Stories and Anecdotes Thread

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    Today it is 46 years since the Americans landed on the Moon.
    ​On that day I was on board the Slidre and we were on the way from Honiara in the Solomon Islands to Kieta on Bougainvillea Island, which is geographically part of the Solomons, but politically part of PNG.

    We were sailing along what was popularly known as the "iron bottom sound" due to the many wrecks from WWII that was strewn on the bottom.
    (Enough to play havoc with magnetic compasses)

    We were on the bridge listening to Voice of America on shortwave radio, reporting in real time on the events at the moon.
    During a bit of a lull the reporter filled in with some "trivial technical details", like; "the navigation system on the orbiter has an accuracy of +/- 35 m. on the far side of the moon".

    Here we sat on a ship built in 1938 (i.e 31 years old at the time) equipped with a magnetic compass, a radar from 1944 that did not work, an echo sounder that was unreliable below 10 fathoms and a s*xtant with worn out numbers due to years of overzealous polishing.

    We were lucky to know within a mile or two where we were, unless we had some landmarks to take bearings of. Lighthouses and buoys with light were few and far between in the islands.

    PS> I don't know if I have mentioned it before, but to get accurate bearings you had to climb up on the Monkey Island and use the bearing ring on the Standard Compass.To cut down on the trips up there I invented a system for simple 4-point bearings by placing strips of insulation tape on the windows were, when leaning against the Flinders Bar on the Steering Compass, one was at 045 degr. relative bearing to Stbd. and one at 045 degr. to Port. Abeam bearing was by using the door frames. When in line with the target the relative bearing would be 090 degr.
    The time between the two and the speed over ground would thus give the distance off the target when abeam. Simple and effective, but of cause it only worked when you could see a target at a suitable distance away. Not much use on a dark night, or in heavy tropical rain.

    I wonder how many of today's Navigators even know how to use 4-point bearings if all their electronic navigation aids should fail simultaneously?


    • janihudi
      janihudi commented
      Editing a comment
      nope,but i have road map the brings me everywhere i want to go.even to Bun9ay of all places

    • wherrygirl
      wherrygirl commented
      Editing a comment
      Ooh, I shouldn't go there again, if I were you.

    • janihudi
      janihudi commented
      Editing a comment
      i bet you would.:-D

    I used to do this for a living:
    No, not to install computers or whatever, but to mover rigs, inspect boat and rigs, or for loading and lifting operations.
    No matter, sometimes you could wait days, or weeks, for a job to start, same as here.

    One time I was met at the airport in Point Noir, Congo after 36 hr. of travel and told to return home, since the rig move had been cancelled. (They had found something interesting and decided to drill deeper)
    After a few hours sleep I was on the plane back home, only to return a week later. (Dry hole)