Compass: A Story of Exploration and Innovation

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W. W. Norton & Company, 2004 - History - 320 pages
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The fascinating and disaster-strewn history of the search to perfect the essential navigational device. This book chronicles the misadventures of those who attempted to perfect the compass, an instrument so precious to sixteenth-century seamen that, by law, any man found tampering with it had his hand pinned to the mast with a dagger. From the time man first took to the seas until only one thousand years ago, sight and winds were the sailor's only navigational aids. It was not until the development of the compass that maps and charts could be used with any accuracyeven so, it would be hundreds of years and thousands of shipwrecks before the marvelous instrument was perfected. And its history up to modern times is filled with the stories of disasters that befell sailors who misused it. In this wonderfully written book, Alan Gurney brings to life the instrument Victor Hugo called "the soul of the ship."
 

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Contents

PROLOGUE
13
DEAD RECKONING
19
NEEDLE AND STONE
31
THE ROSE OF THE WINDS
41
VARIATION AND DIP
55
EDMOND HALLEY POLYMATH
69
To COMPASS THE GLOBE
77
HALLEYAN LINES
87
SOFT IRON HARD IRON
175
AN EVIL So PREGNANT WITH MISCHIEF
187
DEVIATION THE HYDRAHEADED MONSTER
199
THE INEXTRICABLE ENTANGLED WEB
211
GRAYS BINNACLE
225
THOMSONS COMPASS AND BINNACLE
235
THE SELLING OF A COMPASS
247
A QUESTION OF LIQUIDITY
261

DR GOWIN KNIGHT AND HIS MAGNETIC MACHINE
99
KNIGHTS COMPASS
109
THE SHOCKS OF TEMPESTUOUS SEAS
119
ANY OLD IRON ANY OLD IRON
135
THE BOOK OF BEARINGS
149
THE FLINDERS BAR
161
FROM NEEDLE TO SPINNING TOP
273
DEVIATION
277
NOTES
281
BIBLIOGRAPHY
297
INDEX
307
Copyright

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Page 11 - the sailors, moreover, as they sail over the sea, when in cloudy weather they can no longer profit by the light of the Sun, or when the world is wrapped up in the darkness of the shades of night, and they are ignorant to what point of the compass their ship's course is directed, they touch the magnet with a needle, which (the needle) is whirled round in a circle until, when its motion ceases, its point looks direct to the north

About the author (2004)

Alan Gurney is a former yacht designer and photographer living in Suffolk, England. His previous books include Compass and Race to the White Continent.

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