Sunday, February 16, 2014

1840 Nautical Instruments

 I was going through photos and found some of nautical instruments used at Fort Vancouver.  This first one is a sextant.  It used the position of the sun to figure out a ship's location.  I'm unsure if the user squinted at the sun through this, or if the sun's reflection was used (which would have been easier on a sailor's eyes).

I wished that I could have picked it up, but it was secured in the box.

The last photo is of a gimbaled compass.  The box sits on a table on a ship.  The ring has an axis running through the box.  A second axis, at right angles to the first one, runs through the compass.  The compass is bottom-heavy, and by having two independent, orthogonal axes, the compass is able to remain steady while the boat pitches and yaws on a body of water.

Now, of course, I can't remember if ships were getting to Fort Vancouver by sailing around the tip of Africa and heading east, or if they sailed around South America, or both.

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