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Breaking the Book of Hastings

This fascinating series is a combination of historical seafaring, swashbuckling adventure, and high technological science-fiction. Join us in a discussion!
Re: Breaking the Book of Hastings
Post by Robert_A_Woodward   » Sun Aug 18, 2019 12:01 am

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Peter2 wrote:
Joat42 wrote:
[snip]

I seem to remember that everyone more or less navigated by dead reckoning and experience.


I can't remember any specific references off-hand, but I've got the distinct impression that only Charis's navy sailed the deep seas, certainly before Clyntahn got a bee in his bonnet about that nation's increasing wealth and power. Their galleons were larger and deeper-keeled than other nations', making them much more seaworthy, albeit slightly slower. This implies that the other nations' galleons were coastal vessels, who would use land sightings for navigation as well as their dead reckoning and experience.

Talking of experience, I think I remember reading somewhere that the sailors of Polynesia could navigate with astonishing accuracy by travelling at a given angle to the waves. OK in fine weather of course, while the Pacific is behaving itself . . . :o


There is some mention of navigation by stars by Charis sailors at a time before Nimue's PICA woke up. Certainly, the airships in _Through Fiery Trials_ were using stars to navigate.

I believe that the Polynesians had navigation songs which tied stars to islands.
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Beowulf was bad.
(first sentence of Chapter VI of _Space Viking_ by H. Beam Piper)
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Re: Breaking the Book of Hastings
Post by Louis R   » Sun Aug 18, 2019 10:37 pm

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IIRC, there's a mention that celestial navigation - and the spherical trigonometry to go with it - was one of the skills being inflicted on midshipmen at the new-fangled Naval Academy. One which _experienced_ ship-handlers, such as the Captain and [i think] Admiral witnessing the on-going lessons after deployment had no particular use for or interest in acquiring.

Robert_A_Woodward wrote:
Peter2 wrote:
I can't remember any specific references off-hand, but I've got the distinct impression that only Charis's navy sailed the deep seas, certainly before Clyntahn got a bee in his bonnet about that nation's increasing wealth and power. Their galleons were larger and deeper-keeled than other nations', making them much more seaworthy, albeit slightly slower. This implies that the other nations' galleons were coastal vessels, who would use land sightings for navigation as well as their dead reckoning and experience.

Talking of experience, I think I remember reading somewhere that the sailors of Polynesia could navigate with astonishing accuracy by travelling at a given angle to the waves. OK in fine weather of course, while the Pacific is behaving itself . . . :o


There is some mention of navigation by stars by Charis sailors at a time before Nimue's PICA woke up. Certainly, the airships in _Through Fiery Trials_ were using stars to navigate.

I believe that the Polynesians had navigation songs which tied stars to islands.

Joat42 wrote:
[snip]

I seem to remember that everyone more or less navigated by dead reckoning and experience.
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Re: Breaking the Book of Hastings
Post by Louis R   » Sun Aug 18, 2019 11:09 pm

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This is, in fact, the _only_ direct observational test that could possibly challenge Hastings, since it's the only phenomenon that can't be explained within the Ptolemaic system. Depending on just how it's cast, it wouldn't be difficult for the Book of Hastings to provide a perfectly good method for predicting a variety of celestial phenomena, and you can be sure that it doesn't present a _derivation_ of that method. There would be no way for the reader to know if the underlying model was Ptolemaic, Keplerian or Einsteinian and no reason for them to wonder about it anyway. Assuming, of course, that there was any need for such predictions.

People are forgetting the reason that accurate measurement and prediction of planetary positions was even a matter of concern in pre-Space Age Europe, and why Brahe's meticulous observations and the construction of the Rudolphine Tables were funded: astrology. If the CoGA has no place for astrology, which is a pretty safe bet on current evidence, nobody is even going to be looking closely enough at the sky to be aware of any discrepancy between what they see going on up there and the explanation provided for it.

Robert_A_Woodward wrote:I suggested mapping the sky to .1" of arc; but I am not certain when that was done on Earth.

However, I just remembered something else. If there are any planets with orbits inside Safehold's, then observations with even a primitive telescope will see that planet in a crescent phase, gibbous phase, or possibly a full phase (though that would be very close to the sun and rather dangerous to observe). This is only possible if that planet is sometimes between the sun and Safehold and sometimes behind the sun (relative to Safehold).
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Re: Breaking the Book of Hastings
Post by DMcCunney   » Sun Sep 29, 2019 10:43 pm

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Castenea wrote:I am to a small extent surprised that someone has not already tried to recalculate the orbits of other planets in the Safehold system with newer better optics. Even better if that person is not a member of the inner circle.

That assumes anyone knows there are other planets in the Safehold system with orbits to be (re)calculated.

I'd say it's a good bet there are - I can't imagine a system Operation Ark might choose to colonize that had only one planet with a moon that just happened to be within the habitable zone. I doubt such systems exist.

(And I'm quite curious to know how far away from Earth Safehold is, and how many systems Operation Ark looked at before settling on Safehold's system as the place to put colonies. Part of that question would revolve around how far away Operation Ark's planners considered the minimum safe distance from Gbaba space any colony would need to be to make it vanishingly unlikely a Gbaba probe would investigate it.)

But from what we've seen so far, Safeholdians are aware of the world they live on, the moon that circles it, the sun that gives it light and heat, and a bunch of lights in the sky they know are stars, but don't know are also suns like the one Safehold orbits.

They may be aware that some of those lights twinkle and some don't, but likely won't wonder or care about the distinction. (That sort of curiosity isn't exactly encouraged.)

Safeholdian mariners navigated by dead reckoning, using time spent sailing on various compass headings, and estimated speed in knots to get an idea of where they were. They were aided by logs kept by other mariners of their travels which could be used to cross check their own guesses.

Safehold has telescopes, but they are used for seeing longer distances on land. Why would anyone turn them on the skies?

Hastings was a geographer, mapping the surface of Safehold (and by extension, a geologist providing some information about what the maps displayed.) I don't recall any mention of sky maps in his Book.
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Dennis
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Re: Breaking the Book of Hastings
Post by DMcCunney   » Sun Sep 29, 2019 10:53 pm

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Louis R wrote:IIRC, there's a mention that celestial navigation - and the spherical trigonometry to go with it - was one of the skills being inflicted on midshipmen at the new-fangled Naval Academy. One which _experienced_ ship-handlers, such as the Captain and [i think] Admiral witnessing the on-going lessons after deployment had no particular use for or interest in acquiring.

Yep. Admiral Yearly and Captain Lathyk were highly experienced ship handlers and navigators. They didn't need the new techniques.

But the advantage for the Charisian Navy inflicting classes in spherical trigonometry on long suffering midshipmen is that using those tools allows you to calculate where you are without having the years of experience needed to do good dead reckoning. I'm sure Sir Duncan recognizes that advantage for his Navy. Captain Lathyk likely does as well, even though he personally doesn't need to use the tools himself, save as a possible cross-check on his own estimate in critical situations.
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Dennis
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Re: Breaking the Book of Hastings
Post by DMcCunney   » Sun Sep 29, 2019 11:13 pm

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Peter2 wrote:I can't remember any specific references off-hand, but I've got the distinct impression that only Charis's navy sailed the deep seas, certainly before Clyntahn got a bee in his bonnet about that nation's increasing wealth and power. Their galleons were larger and deeper-keeled than other nations', making them much more seaworthy, albeit slightly slower. This implies that the other nations' galleons were coastal vessels, who would use land sightings for navigation as well as their dead reckoning and experience.

Navies on Safehold pre-Merlin used galleys, which were not good blue water vessels. They didn't need to be. They were intended for coastal defense, and possibly offensive operations against opponents close enough that reaching them with galleys wasn't totally unreasonable.

Merchants used galleons out of necessity, as they needed to travel to places not feasible for galleys and needed cargo capacity galleys wouldn't have. We do get the impression Charisian merchants pushed the envelope, and Charis' commercial dominance was due in part to their merchant marine being willing to sail out of sight of land using dead reckoning instead of hugging coastlines. There was a reason half to two-thirds of goods shopped between locations on Safehold were carried in Charisian bottoms.

We don't get much information about naval history in the early days and how often galley fleets fought each other, but I'm willing to bet combat was between opponents relatively close to each other, geographically speaking. IT wasn't until Clyntahn started stirring the pot that we saw purpose built warships based on galleons that could do power projection across really long distances.
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Dennis
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