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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,
Browsing through a past issue of our Newsletter I come across this piece that our Editor included in a 2001 edition. I don't know where he got it from but here it is;

New Year 1899-1900
The night was warm and inviting. The stars shone in all their tropical brilliance.
Captain John D Phillips was in a dark corner of the bridge quietly pulling on a cigar with all the contentment that comes to a sailor when he knows the voyage is half complete and they are homeward bound. The passenger steamer SS Warrimoo was quietly knifing her way home through the waters of the mid Pacific, from Vancouver to Australia. The navigator, had just finished working out a star fix and brought the results up to Captain Phillips. The Warrimoo's position was spotted at about Latitude 0* 30' North and Longitude 179* 30' West. The date was December 30th 1899.
First Mate, Daylong broke in "Captain do you realize what this means? We are only a few miles from the intersection of the Equator and the International Date Line". Captain Phillips knew exactly what it meant; he was in good spirits and feeling prankish enough to take full advantage of a unique opportunity to achieve a navigational freak of a lifetime.
In an ordinary crossing of the Date-Line it is confusing enough for passengers because they lose a day, but the possibilities he had before him were sure to confound them for the rest of their lives. He immediately called four more navigators to the bridge and told them to check and double check the ship's position every few minutes and report it to him. He changed course slightly so as to correctly bear on his mark. Then he carefully adjusted the engine speed so he would strike it at the right moment. The clear night, calm sea and the eager co-operation of the entire crew worked successfully in his favour.
Precisely at Midnight, local time, the Warrimoo, lay on the Equator at exactly the point where it crosses the International Date Line.
The consequences of this bizarre situation were many.
The Forward part of the ship was in the Southern Hemisphere and in the middle of summer.
The Stern was in the Northern Hemisphere and in the middle of Winter.
The date in the after part of the ship was 30th December 1899
Forward it was 1st January 1900.
The ship was not only in two different days, two different years, but two different centuries all at the same time.
Moreover, the passengers had been cheated out of a New Year's Eve celebration. The 31st of December 1899 had disappeared from their lives forever.
Not all was disappointment for the people on board the Warrimoo were the first to greet the new century. All they had to do was run from aft to f'wrd.
Captain Phillips when speaking about it years later said he had never heard of it happening before and the next time the same situation could happen was 1999-2000.
It would be good to hear if it happened by a merchantman. Anyone hear of anything?

Please don't say Branson or some other Hedonist, a jolly jape doesn't count.

Tony
 

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Great Story Tony,hope you don't mind I have pinched it and posted it on another website where it will be greatly appreciated, although most of the chaps there do their navigating at 30,000 feet.
(Thumb)
 

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Navigation freak

Tony, (&SN Moderator)

Would like permission to copy this remarkable account to a websitem of former fellow navigators, with appropriate credits

tomekelso
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Yes, help youselves. I'm glad you like it.
But, I knew you would (*))


If you put a credit alongside the story Please mention Pat Moran (editor), Liverpool Retired Merchant Seafarers.


Tony
 

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I believe this feat was duplicated in 1999/2000 by a specially chartered cruise ship. Does anybody have any info?
 

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exsailor said:
I believe this feat was duplicated in 1999/2000 by a specially chartered cruise ship. Does anybody have any info?
Finding yourself (not deliberately) within half a degree of that position on that date and making minor alterations to course and speed to achieve it is one thing, but to charter a vessel and intentionally set out to do it seems to me like cheating.
 

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Thanks John I read that, I was just wondering, before GPS, I have one in my car, how did they work it out so well in the middle of the Ocean in 1899?
 

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mermaid said:
Thanks John I read that, I was just wondering, before GPS, I have one in my car, how did they work it out so well in the middle of the Ocean in 1899?
Mermaid,

The secret lies in text "The navigator, had just finished working out a star fix ..." with the joy of having a clear evening with several stars available in the sky and at the same time a visible horizon, which should (in theory) lead to a Perfect Fix, with maybe half a dozen lines crossing to give the very best fix any navigator could wish for; unlike a noon-time sight, where you just have the one heavenly body to take a sextant reading from and then have to rely on dead-reckoning.

To put it in perspective, I was never that good at getting a star fix and usually opted to put "cloudy & overcast" in the log-book to explain its non-appearance, until such time as I was promoted out of harm's way. (*))

Tonga
 

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I was just wondering how they could do that in the old days but realise the story is meant more as light relief rather than something that could happen in fact.
 

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As good a yarn as this undoubtably, I think its pretty fair to say that for them to have been where they though they were at 0001 is pretty wishful thinking.
I mean, the average star sight will get you accuracy at worst of around 3 miles. The positions worked out after that will of course have been DRs (over 4-5 hours?).
So yes, they may have been damn close, but I'd put a fair wedge of cash saying they weren't on the dateline/equator intersect.
 

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James_C said:
As good a yarn as this undoubtably, I think its pretty fair to say that for them to have been where they though they were at 0001 is pretty wishful thinking.
I mean, the average star sight will get you accuracy at worst of around 3 miles. The positions worked out after that will of course have been DRs (over 4-5 hours?).
So yes, they may have been damn close, but I'd put a fair wedge of cash saying they weren't on the dateline/equator intersect.
Killjoy, Jim. Anyhow My star sights achieved a much better accuracy than three miles. Colin
 

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Discussion Starter #16
You could be right, James_C, but as the calculations were constant throughout the trip and delivered many a sailor home safely over centuries, let's give Captain Phillips the benefit of the doubt.

Anyway it's put up for entertainment not for analysis

fraternally,
Tony
 

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rainbow said:
You could be right, James_C, but as the calculations were constant throughout the trip and delivered many a sailor home safely over centuries, let's give Captain Phillips the benefit of the doubt.

Anyway it's put up for entertainment not for analysis

fraternally,
Tony
Right on Tony. The story makes great reading. Colin
 

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mclean said:
Right on Tony. The story makes great reading. Colin
Well done Tony and Colin, nicely put.

I also thought that Mermaid inadvertently, but quite correctly summed up my ability at taking Star Sights with the nice comment " .. (Tonga's star sights were) meant more as light relief rather than something that could happen in fact. " (*))

Enjoy an excellent tale well told.

Tonga
 

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Turd Mate,

I most earnestly dispute the statement that the "average" star sight would only have an accuracy of 3 miles! That may have been a satisfactory "average" for some, but many others (mostly chief officers, but some second officers where keeping the 4-8)who were my mentors in early days of my seatime, would have been shame-faced to accept that when conditions were optimum, as they very often were in tropical waters. In my experience, it was the norm for many to pecalculate the approximate altitude of up to 8 stars, and work out the obs of 6 and get a miniscule "cocked hat" with every reason to accept this as an accuracy of no more than 1 mile (or the thickness of a pencil line sometimes! ). In many cases that position would be plotted on the chart within 20 minutes of taking the last star obs. Other than professional pride, nothing extraordinary was thought of this, it was what was expected by the master, and it made no difference whether the ship was 1 day or 6 days from its next landfall.

As for the run on to mid-night, previous generations of mariners were, perforce, in many cases pretty canny at working out their estimated position by dead reckoning.


One example comes to mind, although I forget the details. Raeburn & Veral "Monarch" ship in mid-Pacific, in the 1950's. Second Mate fell over the side when reading the log clock, (which was on a small outrigger down aft) after being relieved at 0400. He normally wasn't roused until about 11 o'clock, and only then , when he couldn't be found, and the master, having guessed what might have happened, was the ship put about. The sun had actually set when the ship sighted him in the water! (The 2/0 also had the immense courage to put his trust in the intuition and dead-reckoning ability of the master!)

That said, how many people challenge Amundsen and Scott as having actually reached the South Pole, or just three miles from it? Let's give those onboard Warrimoo the credit for knowing what they were doing!

tomekelso
 

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tom e kelso said:
Turd Mate,

I most earnestly dispute the statement that the "average" star sight would only have an accuracy of 3 miles! That may have been a satisfactory "average" for some, but many others (mostly chief officers, but some second officers where keeping the 4-8)who were my mentors in early days of my seatime, would have been shame-faced to accept that when conditions were optimum, as they very often were in tropical waters. In my experience, it was the norm for many to pecalculate the approximate altitude of up to 8 stars, and work out the obs of 6 and get a miniscule "cocked hat" with every reason to accept this as an accuracy of no more than 1 mile (or the thickness of a pencil line sometimes! ). In many cases that position would be plotted on the chart within 20 minutes of taking the last star obs. Other than professional pride, nothing extraordinary was thought of this, it was what was expected by the master, and it made no difference whether the ship was 1 day or 6 days from its next landfall.

As for the run on to mid-night, previous generations of mariners were, perforce, in many cases pretty canny at working out their estimated position by dead reckoning.


One example comes to mind, although I forget the details. Raeburn & Veral "Monarch" ship in mid-Pacific, in the 1950's. Second Mate fell over the side when reading the log clock, (which was on a small outrigger down aft) after being relieved at 0400. He normally wasn't roused until about 11 o'clock, and only then , when he couldn't be found, and the master, having guessed what might have happened, was the ship put about. The sun had actually set when the ship sighted him in the water! (The 2/0 also had the immense courage to put his trust in the intuition and dead-reckoning ability of the master!)

That said, how many people challenge Amundsen and Scott as having actually reached the South Pole, or just three miles from it? Let's give those onboard Warrimoo the credit for knowing what they were doing!

tomekelso
Taken from my sight book. Vessel "Mobil Endeavour" Date 6th.June 1963. En route Port Said to Paulsboro. DR Position 35.23 N 17.48E. Stars... Vega, Spica, Pollux, Regulus, Arcturus, Dubhe and Mars. Observed Position 35.25N 17.48E. All of us took a great pride in our navigational abilities. Colin.
 
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