Tag Archives | sailing

All Is Lost—And Who Was Doing the Thinking?

All_is_Lost_posterWarning: This article contains spoilers.

The film All Is Lost has been released to unanimously raving reviews. Critics are greatly satisfied with both the film itself and Mr. Redford’s performance, which is wonderful since he is the one and only actor in it. A seasoned gentleman leisurely crossing the Indian Ocean all by himself on an elegant sailboat faces a number of contretemps. Things go from bad to worse until he’s forced to abandon ship and board the lifeboat. More tribulations await him there.

It’s a good man-versus-the-elements yarn, and I found myself rooting for the mariner (we never get to know his name) because, as a fellow human being, I certainly wouldn’t like to be in his predicament. Having said that, my rooting for the mariner wasn’t nearly as wholehearted as it should have been, because a simple but essential detail kept nagging at me.

Years ago, while doing research for a novel of mine, Leeward & Windward, I studied a book by Don Biggs entitled Survival AfloatHow to Prevent Disasters on the WaterOr Survive if One Occurs, copyrighted in 1976 and published presumably then (there is no release date in my copy).… Read the rest

Continue Reading

Mythic Viking Navigation Crystal May Have Been Found In Shipwreck

The first ever found remnant of a sunstone, a crystal which legend says was behind the Vikings’ incredible feats of oceanic navigation? Via CBS News:

A rough, whitish block recovered from an Elizabethan shipwreck may be a sunstone, the fabled crystal believed to have helped Vikings and other medieval seafarers navigate the high seas, researchers say.

In a paper published earlier this week, a Franco-British group argued that the Alderney Crystal – a chunk of Icelandic calcite found amid a 16th century wreck at the bottom of the English Channel – worked as a kind of solar compass, allowing sailors to determine the position of the sun even when it was hidden by heavy cloud or fog, or below the horizon.

Icelandic legend appears to refers to such a crystal [but] few other medieval references to sunstones have been found, and no such crystals have ever been recovered from Viking tombs or ships.

Read the rest
Continue Reading