Not all aids were of the lighthouse service

A forum to discuss non-specific lighthouse topics. If a topic doesn't fit into one of the other forums, put it here.

Postby island » Tue Aug 07, 2012 9:35 pm

Research of lighthouse history very often leads to interesting finds. Not all significant aids to navigation were those provided by the lighthouse authorities of this and other countries. An example of such was developed by Navy Lt. Matthew Maury.

From the records and logs of many sailing vessels he complied a very useful aid to navigation, the Wind and Current Chart of the North Atlantic, which showed sailors how to use the ocean's currents and winds to their advantage and drastically reduced the length of ocean voyages. Use of this shortened the voyage on average by 35 days between New York and California. Likewise it enabled mariners to avoid parts of the ocean that could lead to excessive delays due to unfavorable winds and currents.

In 1847 Maury issued his first Wind and Current Chart of the North Atlantic, and by 1848 eight more Wind and Current Charts were completed of the North and South Atlantic and the North and South Pacific and the Indian Ocean. These were designated Series A. Series B came out shortly thereafter, but were more specialized and involved a Trade Winds Chart of the Atlantic, and Series C became the famous Pilot Charts of the United States Navy.

While preparing the charts Maury sought the cooperation of mariners from many nations, getting them to report to him their regular observations of winds and currents, which he either added or corrected on his own charts. This was the Age of the great Clipper Ships, and their masters prized Maury's charts as by following their wind and current directions, they were able to cut many days off their voyages from North American ports to the Far East, as also the Clippers racing to and from New York and San Francisco.

In conjunction with this creation he published in 1855"The Physical Geography of the Sea." 1855. This is Maury's famous and most widely read treatise that went through many editions in America, Great Britain, France, Italy & Germany. As Maury states in his Introduction "The primary object of The Wind & Current Charts out of which has grown this treatise.....was to collect the experience of every navigator as to the winds & currents of the Ocean. To discuss his observations upon them and then to present the world with the results on charts for the improvement of commerce & navigation."
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