Tracks in the Sea: Matthew Fontaine Maury and the Mapping of the Oceans

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9780071427906: Tracks in the Sea: Matthew Fontaine Maury and the Mapping of the Oceans

Book by Hearn Chester G Hearn Chester

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Tracks in the Sea captures a rich yet little-known chapter in the history of seafaring - the mapping of the oceans by Matthew Fontaine Maury, the father of modern navigation and ocean science. Voyages in the early 1800s were risky endeavors. Navigation was uncertain. Chronometers were a new technology, and only a few navy ships and wealthy merchant vessels carried them. And route planning was a hit-or-miss affair. Knowledge of prevailing winds and currents had advanced little since Columbus. What lore existed was mostly anecdotal. There were no "highways" on the seas, and hundreds of ships were lost each year. The cost in property and lives was enormous. In eighteen years of sustained and inspired labor starting in 1842, drawing on the logbooks of sailing ships from around the world, Maury changed all that. Driving himself and his staff at the U.S. Naval Observatory with relentless curiosity, ambition, adventurousness, and altruism, he mapped the oceans' great surface currents and wind systems and showed shipmasters how to shave weeks or months from voyages. No less than the invention of the chronometer, the pilot charts and wind and current maps of this self-taught genius from a T

Klappentext:

The Remarkable Story of a Seafaring Scientist

"Tracks in the Sea" captures a rich yet little-known chapter in the history of seafaring--the mapping of the oceans by Matthew Fontaine Maury, the father of modern navigation and ocean science. Voyages in the 1800s were risky endeavors. Navigation was uncertain and knowledge of prevailing winds and current had advanced little since Columbus. Hundreds of ships were lost each year; the cost in property and lives was enormous.

Maury changed all that. In a brilliant eighteen-year effort between 1842 and 1861--driving himself and his staff with relentless curiosity, ambition, adventurousness, and altruism--he transformed the oceans from trackless hazards into a network of highways marked by dependable winds and currents and showed shipmasters how to shave weeks and even months from voyages. His career coincided with the ascendance of America as a maritime power and with the culmination of the Great Age of Sail. In a world interconnected by maritime commerce, Maury's work was critically important not just to America but to all nations.

Now "Tracks in the Sea" resurrects the life and work of this unique and fascinating man. In tracing Maury's intellectual odyssey and the dramatic conflicts of his career, Chester Hearn shows us a pivotal era in seafaring and in the history of a raw young nation.

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