polynesian navigation

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pages: 385 words: 103,561

Pinpoint: How GPS Is Changing Our World by Greg Milner

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Ayatollah Khomeini, British Empire, creative destruction, data acquisition, Dava Sobel, digital map, Edmond Halley, Eratosthenes, experimental subject, Flash crash, friendly fire, Hedy Lamarr / George Antheil, Internet of things, Isaac Newton, John Harrison: Longitude, Kevin Kelly, land tenure, lone genius, Mars Rover, Mercator projection, place-making, polynesian navigation, precision agriculture, race to the bottom, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, smart grid, the map is not the territory

Beaglehole for the Hakluyt Society, 1955–67 (London: Penguin Books, 2003), ccclxvi. 7 “the Machiavelli”: Joan Druett, Tupaia: Captain Cook’s Polynesian Navigator (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2011), xii. 8 arioi, an elite society: Anne Salmond, The Trial of the Cannibal Dog: Captain Cook in the South Seas (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003), 37. 8 “in search of what chance”: Ibid., 107. 9 “These people sail”: Ibid., 105. 10 “the above list”: Druett, Tupaia, 121 10 “Shrewd, Sensible, Ingenious”: Cook, The Journals of Captain Cook, 189–90. 11 Now I am still alive: David Lewis, We, the Navigators: The Ancient Art of Landfinding in the Pacific (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 1994), 55. 11 “the first Polynesian navigator”: Ibid., 31. 11 “almost alone”: Ibid. 11 “I became his pupil”: Ibid. 12 the mysteries of Polynesian migration: On the history of the various Polynesian navigation theories, see Ben Finney, Voyage of Rediscovery: A Cultural Odyssey Through Polynesia (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), 18–23; and Finney, “Myth, Experiment, and the Reinvention of Polynesian Voyaging.” 12 “Most people believe”: Andrew Sharp, Ancient Voyagers in Polynesia (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1964), 53. 13 “would be nothing for a seaman of his caliber”: Lewis, We, the Navigators, 355–6. 14 The Polynesian navigator’s primary tool: For an excellent concise overview of Polynesian navigation techniques, see Oliver Kuhn, “Polynesian Navigation,” CSEG Recorder, September 2008, http://csegrecorder.com/features/view/science-break-200809. 17 “embed the route”: Reginald G.

., 31. 11 “almost alone”: Ibid. 11 “I became his pupil”: Ibid. 12 the mysteries of Polynesian migration: On the history of the various Polynesian navigation theories, see Ben Finney, Voyage of Rediscovery: A Cultural Odyssey Through Polynesia (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), 18–23; and Finney, “Myth, Experiment, and the Reinvention of Polynesian Voyaging.” 12 “Most people believe”: Andrew Sharp, Ancient Voyagers in Polynesia (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1964), 53. 13 “would be nothing for a seaman of his caliber”: Lewis, We, the Navigators, 355–6. 14 The Polynesian navigator’s primary tool: For an excellent concise overview of Polynesian navigation techniques, see Oliver Kuhn, “Polynesian Navigation,” CSEG Recorder, September 2008, http://csegrecorder.com/features/view/science-break-200809. 17 “embed the route”: Reginald G. Golledge, “Human Wayfinding and Cognitive Maps,” in Wayfinding Behavior: Cognitive Mapping and Other Spatial Processes, edited by Reginald G. Golledge, 5–45 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999), 6–7.

Lewis, an Australian physician, adventurer, and master sailor, had won a university fellowship to sail the Pacific in search of anyone who still practiced the ancient art of Polynesian navigation. It was a dispiriting experience, as Lewis discovered that the practices had died out, superseded by modern methods. Then he met Tevake, a man in his seventies who had begun his navigational training when he was seven or eight years old. In his younger years, Tevake would regularly sail a 30-foot outrigger canoe on a journey of 300 miles or more. Age had slowed Tevake somewhat, but he still traveled solo between his atoll and nearby islands. Tevake was “the first Polynesian navigator I ever sailed with,” Lewis remembered, as well as “one of the greatest.” This gifted navigator lived on an atoll in the Santa Cruz Islands, part of the Solomon Islands, a country in the area of the Pacific called Melanesia, west of the Polynesian triangle.


pages: 366 words: 100,602

Sextant: A Young Man's Daring Sea Voyage and the Men Who ... by David Barrie

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centre right, colonial exploitation, Edmond Halley, Eratosthenes, Fellow of the Royal Society, Isaac Newton, John Harrison: Longitude, lone genius, Maui Hawaii, Nicholas Carr, polynesian navigation, South China Sea, trade route

See also Polynesian navigation Pacific Northwest, 143 Pacific Ocean, 87, 233–36. See also specific locations Pandora, 43–44, 134 Papua New Guinea, 158 parallax, 76, 300n6 Paris Observatory, 65 Parliament (British), xvii, 215 Pasley, Thomas, 159 pendulum clocks, 59, 63, 65 Peru, xiv, 210 Philip II, 62 Philip III, 62, 64 Philippines, xiv, 55–56, 126 Piailug, 263 Picard, Jean, 60, 65 Pitcairn Island, 1, 44 Pitt, Thomas, 142–43, 155–56 Plains of Abraham, Battle of, 10 planets, 16 Pleiades, 17, 24, 271 pocket watches, 146 Polaris and Alcyone’s crossing to Azores, 273–74 and altitude/latitude relationship, 25, 25–26, 26n, 57 and animal migrations, 23 and Nautical Almanac star charts, 16 Shakespeare on, 26–27n pollution, 47 Polo, Marco, 27 Polynesian navigation, xix, 118, 262–65, 303n1 Polynesian Triangle, 90 Porpoise, 177–80 Port Dalrymple, 162 Port Discovery, 149 Port Famine, 196–97, 199–200 Port Jackson, 159–61, 163, 166–67, 172–75, 180–81 Port Royal, 304n16 Port Tamar, 229 Portland Yacht Club, 8 Portuguese navigators, 27–28, 58–59 Practical Navigator (Moore), 237 The Practice of Navigation and Nautical Astronomy (Raper), 83–84, 221 precession of equinoxes, 58n predecessors of the sextant, 27–32 prehistoric humans, 23–24, 284–85 prime meridian, 59 Prince of Wales, 45, 301n1 Prinz Eugen, 301n1 prizes for longitude solution, 62–66, 67, 75, 78 Providence, 157–58, 159 provisions for sea journeys and Alcyone’s crossing to Azores, 271 and Cook’s explorations, 89, 94, 95 and Mendaña’s explorations, xiv and preparations for Atlantic crossing, 11 and routine at sea, 48 and the Shackleton expedition, 242–43 Ptolemy, 17, 58 “PZX Triangle,” 69, 71 Quadra, Don Juan Francisco de la Bodega y, 152–53 quadrants, xv, 35, 61, 66, 105, 125 Quebec, 10 Queensland, 97, 173 Quirós, Pedro Fernández de, xvi Raban, Jonathan, 142 radar, 9, 268 radio communication and Lloyd’s Register of Ships, 219n radio direction-finding (RDF), 5, 9, 46, 47, 267, 268, 273 radiotelephones, 46–47 reach of BBC broadcasts, 193 and Saecwen’s Atlantic crossing, 137, 218–19, 219n, 240 and safety at sea, xiii and time signatures, 226 The Rake’s Progress (Hogarth), 66 Ramillies, 51 Ramsden, Jesse, 75 Raper, Henry, 83–84, 221 reflecting circle, 74, 188, 188n reflecting quadrant, 31, 31–32 Regulus, 274 relativity theory, 279 relevance of celestial navigation, 282 Reliance, 159–60, 168 religion, xiii–xiv Requisite Tables, 80, 82 Resolution and Bligh’s background, 37 and Cook’s explorations, 90–91, 93, 94 in Kamchatka, 129 in New Zealand, 106–7 timekeeping equipment of, 104 and Vancouver’s career, 138, 145–46 revival of interest in sextants, xx Richards, George, 217 Riddle of the Sands (Childers), 240 The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (Coleridge), 104 Ring of Brodgar, 303n7 Rio de Janeiro, 211 Ripple Passage, 151 “The Roar” (sandbank), 167 Robinson Crusoe (Defoe), 159, 232 Robinson Crusoe Island, 54–55 Roches Douvres reef, 7 Roden Crater, 283–84 Rogers, Jeremy, 270 Rolla, 181 Roman culture, 58, 303n1 Rossel Island, 120 “rotator log,” 233 Round Island, 267 Royal Naval Academy, 82 Royal Naval College, 200, 226 Royal Naval Reserve, 241 Royal Navy and Bougainville’s explorations, 115 and Cook’s explorations, 88 and hydrography, 86 and marine chronometers, 226 and McMullin, 6 officer salaries, 82 and the Shackleton expedition, 242 and the Straits of Magellan, 194 royal observatories, 60, 65, 187 Royal Society and Bougainville’s explorations, 113 and Cook’s explorations, 88, 89, 94 Harrison proposed for admission, 78 and La Pérouse’s explorations, 125 and lunar-distance method, 76 and Vancouver’s explorations, 154 “running survey” method, 96, 146, 169, 203 Ruskin, John, 269–70 Russian Empire, 129 Sable Island, 13, 14–15, 229 Saecwen and close passing of other ships, 122–23 landfall in England, 267–70 McMullin’s acquisition of, 5–7 navigation equipment, 45–47, 68–70 and North Atlantic weather, 109–13 and preparations for Atlantic crossing, 8, 11–12 and “rotator log,” 233 “sag,” 34 Sailing Alone Around the World (Slocum), 229–30 Sakhalin, 126 Samoa, 129, 238 San Cristóbal, xv Sands, Bobby, 274 Santa Clara, São Miguel, 276 Santa Cruz Islands, xviii, 134 Santa Isabel, xv São Miguel, 275–76 satellite navigation systems, 279–83, 299n11, 302n3.

Because it is such a wide subject, I have focused on those who worked in the Pacific, which was then the subject of greatest interest; the examples I have chosen illustrate some of their most remarkable achievements* as well as the many challenges they faced.9 I have also squeezed in the stories of three exceptional small-boat voyages, each of which depended crucially on skillful celestial navigation: Captain Bligh’s journey from Tonga to Indonesia after the Bounty mutiny, Joshua Slocum’s circumnavigation of the world in his yacht Spray, and Sir Ernest Shackleton’s remarkable rescue mission crossing the Southern Ocean in the James Caird, piloted by Frank Worsley. To speak of the “discovery” by European navigators of lands that had long been inhabited by other peoples is obviously absurd, if not insulting, but since the focus of this book is a European invention, Europeans unavoidably take center stage. By way of contrast, I have mentioned briefly the extraordinary skills of the Polynesian navigators, who found their way across the wide expanses of the Pacific using neither instruments nor charts long before the arrival of Western explorers. Their achievements deserve to be better known, but they have been well described by others,10 and this is not the place in which to discuss them more fully. This is not a “how to” guide to celestial navigation, but I hope I have given enough information to enable the reader to grasp its basic principles.

It was extraordinary skills like these that enabled people not only to settle nearly all the islands of the Pacific, but to develop and maintain a cohesive culture embracing this vast area of ocean over many centuries.27 Cook was so impressed by the navigational knowledge displayed by one Tahitian navigator that he agreed to take him aboard the Endeavour. Tupia, as he was called, helped Cook explore the neighboring islands and later to communicate with the native Maori population of New Zealand—with whom, it turned out to everyone’s amazement, he shared a common language. Sadly he was among those who succumbed to illness contracted in Batavia. Cook and his colleagues do not appear to have made any serious attempt to understand Polynesian navigation, and it was only much later—when the traditional techniques had almost died out—that Westerners began to study the subject seriously. THE INVENTION OF the sextant allowed the navigator for the first time to attach a numerical value both precise and accurate to the height of a heavenly body above the horizon. It thereby opened up new realms of navigational possibility for Western seafarers.


pages: 310 words: 89,653

The Interstellar Age: Inside the Forty-Year Voyager Mission by Jim Bell

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Albert Einstein, crowdsourcing, dark matter, Edmond Halley, Edward Charles Pickering, en.wikipedia.org, Eratosthenes, gravity well, Isaac Newton, Kuiper Belt, Mars Rover, Pierre-Simon Laplace, planetary scale, Pluto: dwarf planet, polynesian navigation, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Stephen Hawking, V2 rocket

After moving to Hawaii from Caltech, I was doubly fortunate to find two amazing families there in the islands—one made up of close friends and mentors who helped me in my work world at the university, and the other made up of close friends and mentors who helped me after hours when I learned how to paddle as part of a Hawaiian outrigger canoe club. Paddling with my brothers and sisters in the waves off Waikiki Beach, learning about ancient Polynesian navigation and other local traditions, and kicking back afterward to soak in some “island style” music and food taught me not just a new word—ohana, Hawaiian for “family”—but the inner spirit behind the word as well. If any one person was the embodiment of ohana, it was Fraser Fanale, a professor (now retired) of planetary science who specialized in thinking about the history of water and other “volatile” molecules in the solar system—on Mars, on the satellites of Jupiter . . . anywhere.

Plans start to be formulated about a more permanent monument to be built around the spacecraft when they arrive at their new home world. In a little less than 300,000 years, Voyager 2 will pass about 270,000 AU (about 4.3 light-years) from the famous young, hot, blue star called Sirius. Sirius is famous partly because it is the brightest star in the sky, aside from the sun, and partly because ancient civilizations, such as the Egyptians, Greeks, and Polynesians used Sirius for timekeeping and navigation. Voyager 2 will be half as far away from Sirius as we are now, and so what many of us call the Dog Star (the heart of the constellation Canis Major) will be four times brighter to the spacecraft. An impressive sight that would be, if we could somehow plan to turn the cameras back on in the year 298,015. Beyond then, it’s hard to know exactly what the Voyagers will pass and when, because of uncertainties in the relative motions of the sun and the nearby stars.


pages: 293 words: 97,431

You Are Here: Why We Can Find Our Way to the Moon, but Get Lost in the Mall by Colin Ellard

A Pattern Language, call centre, car-free, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable, Frank Gehry, global village, Google Earth, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, job satisfaction, Marshall McLuhan, McMansion, New Urbanism, peak oil, polynesian navigation, Ralph Waldo Emerson, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the medium is the message, traveling salesman, urban planning, urban sprawl

HUMAN TRAVELERS BUILD GRADIENT MAPS WITH SNOW, SAND, AND STORY In the Arctic, reliable landmarks or inukshuks that can be used to guide trekkers on the tundra are not always around. In the huge central Arctic Barrens, a traveler is more likely to be confronted with nothing more than flat fields of white ground that extend as far as the eye can see in all directions. In this sense, Barrens navigators are in a situation not very different from that of Polynesian seafarers. Though Inuit navigators can use some simple celestial information such as the position of the sun or moon for navigation, they rely less commonly on sophisticated star maps than their more southerly counterparts. One reason for this is that much travel takes place in the summer months, when the periods of darkness can be very short or even nonexistent. Fortunately, the Inuit have some other resources to help them find their way.


pages: 137 words: 43,960

pages: 316 words: 90,165

You Are Here: From the Compass to GPS, the History and Future of How We Find Ourselves by Hiawatha Bray

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A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Albert Einstein, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bitcoin, British Empire, call centre, crowdsourcing, Dava Sobel, digital map, don't be evil, Edmond Halley, Edward Snowden, Firefox, game design, Google Earth, Hedy Lamarr / George Antheil, Isaac Newton, job automation, John Harrison: Longitude, John Snow's cholera map, license plate recognition, lone genius, openstreetmap, polynesian navigation, popular electronics, RAND corporation, RFID, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, trade route, turn-by-turn navigation, uranium enrichment, urban planning, V2 rocket, Zipcar

By the first millennium AD, the Polynesians had settled in New Zealand, Easter Island, Hawaii, and other islands, separated from one another by thousands of miles of blank blue water. These voyages, unrecorded and unrecalled, rank among the greatest of human explorations. How did they manage such remarkable journeys without so much as a compass? Sailors relied on nature, reading the subtle but plentiful signs of wind, waves, and wildlife. Anthropologist David Lewis, who worked with modern Polynesians trained in traditional navigational techniques, witnessed their ability to steer in part by the rolling of the sea. Years of experience had taught them to sense their location and direction by feeling the motions of the waves.3 Residents of the Marshall Islands recorded this profound knowledge of the sea in three-dimensional maps of sticks and shells. The shells represented islands, while the shape and placement of the sticks illustrated the wave patterns in nearby waters.


pages: 801 words: 242,104

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond

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clean water, colonial rule, correlation does not imply causation, cuban missile crisis, Donner party, European colonialism, Exxon Valdez, illegal immigration, job satisfaction, means of production, new economy, North Sea oil, Piper Alpha, polynesian navigation, profit motive, South Sea Bubble, statistical model, Stewart Brand, Thomas Malthus, trade route, transcontinental railway, unemployed young men

The first expansion wave of Lapita potters ancestral to Polynesians spread eastwards across the Pacific only as far as Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga, which lie within just a few days’ sail of each other. A much wider gap of ocean separates those West Polynesian islands from the islands of East Polynesia: the Cooks, Societies, Marquesas, Australs, Tuamotus, Hawaii, New Zealand, Pitcairn group, and Easter. Only after a “Long Pause” of about 1,500 years was that gap finally breached—whether because of improvements in Polynesian canoes and navigation, changes in ocean currents, emergence of stepping-stone islets due to a drop in sea level, or just one lucky voyage. Some time around A.D. 600-800 (the exact dates are debated), the Cooks, Societies, and Marquesas, which are the East Polynesian islands most accessible from West Polynesia, were colonized and became in turn the sources of colonists for the remaining islands. With New Zealand’s occupation around A.D. 1200, across a huge water gap of at least 2,000 miles, the settlement of the Pacific’s habitable islands was at last complete.


pages: 753 words: 233,306

Collapse by Jared Diamond

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clean water, colonial rule, correlation does not imply causation, cuban missile crisis, Donner party, European colonialism, Exxon Valdez, illegal immigration, job satisfaction, means of production, new economy, North Sea oil, Piper Alpha, polynesian navigation, prisoner's dilemma, South Sea Bubble, statistical model, Stewart Brand, Thomas Malthus, trade route, transcontinental railway, unemployed young men

The first expansion wave of Lapita potters ancestral to Polynesians spread eastwards across the Pacific only as far as Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga, which lie within just a few days' sail of each other. A much wider gap of ocean separates those West Polynesian islands from the islands of East Polynesia: the Cooks, Societies, Marquesas, Australs, Tuamotus, Hawaii, New Zealand, Pitcairn group, and Easter. Only after a "Long Pause" of about 1,500 years was that gap finally breached—whether because of improvements in Polynesian canoes and navigation, changes in ocean currents, emergence of stepping-stone islets due to a drop in sea level, or just one lucky voyage. Some time around A.D. 600-800 (the exact dates are debated), the Cooks, Societies, and Marquesas, which are the East Polynesian islands most accessible from West Polynesia, were colonized and became in turn the sources of colonists for the remaining islands. With New Zealand's occupation around A.D. 1200, across a huge water gap of at least 2,000 miles, the settlement of the Pacific's habitable islands was at last complete.


pages: 407 words: 107,343

Felaheen by Jon Courtenay Grimwood

haute cuisine, polynesian navigation, sensible shoes


pages: 778 words: 227,196

pages: 427 words: 124,692