Not Nots But Knots


Just what is a nautical mile, why is it called a knot, and why can’t sailors just use a regular mile?

All very good questions. Let’s start with what a nautical mile is and why it is referred as knot instead of miles per hour.

In the days of wooden ships and iron men they did not have a speedometer near the ship’s wheel to tell how fast the ship was going. They used a log. A log is a quarter round piece of wood with a line attached to it. The line has knots tied in it at regular intervals. When the log in thrown in the water behind the ship the line is allowed to go out for exactly one minute. At the end of the minute the number of knots that went out is counted and that is how many knots, or nautical miles an hour, the ship is travelling.

Now a land mile, or statute mile, is 5,280 feet. A nautical mile is 6,080 feet. A nautical mile is 6,080 feet because 1/60th of a degree in latitude is – yup you guessed it – 6,080 feet. One degree of latitude is divided into 60 minutes (60 nautical miles) and one minute of latitude is divided into 60 seconds.

So in navigational terms one minute is a distance, one mile, but it is also time as well. A ship at sea will “shoot the sun” at noon. That means they try to figure out when the sun reaches its apex where they are. The ship keeps two clocks, one set on local time and one set to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT this is the time at zero degrees longitude). When they shoot the sun they will adjust the local time clock, but the GMT clock is never reset. They compare the local time to the GMT time. For an example let’s say on our ship GMT is 2 PM and local time is 12 noon. So that means GMT is two hours ahead of local time or 120 minutes, or two degrees of longitude, which is also 120 nautical miles. So our ship would be 2 degrees west of 0 degrees longitude and two hours behind GMT.

So as I said a nautical mile is not just a distance, but it is time too. Some people understand this the first time through. The rest of us have to reread it a few times before it makes sense. It you are one of the many just reread it, you will get it. And when you do get it will make perfect sense.

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Coming to a Bookstore Near You


Some of you have been asking when will the second book be out. I have been saying, “soon, soon.” Well today we are announcing the release.

 

The second book in the Cartaphilus Saga (The Cartaphilus Saga: Book #2 Passionis) will be released 28 October 2016.

You can pre-order you copy now. The e-book is priced at $2.99 at your favorite e-book store. Click here to find out more.

 

 

The paperback will be out in time for Christmas. I will provide more information in October.

 

The Cartaphilus Saga Book #2 Passionis Release date 28 October 2016

The Cartaphilus Saga
Book #2
Passionis
Release date 28 October 2016

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“WayBack Wednesday” 14 September 2016


Another look back at one of your favorite articles, “The 7 Secrets of Great Writing.”

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“WayBack Wednesday” 7 September 2016


Another look back at one of your favorite articles, Two Sons of Camelot

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Yes You Can (Part 1)


Have you ever read a book or watched a movie and just shook your head because you did not understand half of what they were saying? That is “nautical speak,” it sounds like English but makes no sense whatsoever. You like Errol Flynn as Captain Blood or Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, you enjoy reading about Titanic, the Queen Anne’s Revenge or World War Two submarines but you just don’t understand what is going on half the time. You could never understand “sailor speak,” it’s too complicated and makes no sense at all – right?

Well like so many other professions that’s what the insiders would like you to think. After this series you’ll know some of the basics of the mariner’s language and it will make sense to you. And if it makes sense to you, you’ll remember it. When we are done you will realize that expert whose book you bought after seeing him on a Titanic special is not as expert as you thought. You will know why he was wrong when he said, “As the Titanic sank she listed down at the bow.”

So sit back and relax while you learn to speak like a sailor. We won’t give you too many words or phrases all at once. So the next time you are on one of those wind jammer cruises and you hear the captain yell to his crew, “prepare to jibe,” you’ll know exactly what he is talking about. You’ll also know what the difference is between jibe and tack. Some of the methods we’ll use are not exactly straight out of the sailor’s manual, but they’ll make it easier to remember your new words.

We start with the words port and starboard. The two most basic words in sailor speak. First we’ll get to just how these two words evolved then an easy way to always remember which side is your “port side.”

Hundreds of years ago, even before Columbus, ships did not have a rudder. An oar was used to steer the ship. They would put the oar over the side at the back of a ship and since most men were right handed the oar went over the right side of the ship. They would twist the oar one way to make the ship turn right and the other way to make it turn left, keeping the oar parallel with the ship when they wanted to go straight – much like you would do with a paddle in a canoe.

As ships got bigger the oar they used to steer the ship became bigger too, much bigger than the other oars aboard the ship. So it began to be call the steering oar or steering board. From that came the word starboard.

With the steering oar over the right side of the ship it is much easier to tie a ship to the dock on the other side or left side of the ship. They would load the ship from the dock on the side tied to the dock, so that side became the “loading side” or Loading board” which was shortened to larboard. There were times, particularly when at sea in a storm, that it was easy to confuse larboard and starboard. Since ships tied up on the larboard side of the ship and that side faces the port it became known as the “port side” of the ship. Now you know how port and starboard came to be used.

Now we will learn what the difference is between port & starboard and left & right. If we are facing south and I ask you to point to the rising sun, you raise you left hand. If we are facing north and I ask you to point to the rising sun, you raise your right hand. Right and left are always YOUR right and YOUR left. This can also become confusing. “Go to the left side of the ship.” Okay, does he mean my left, his left, or the ships left. If the order is passing through other people it could become confused as well. If someone on deck is giving an order to a man 200 feet above the deck on a mast it is easy to confuse words. Also a ship can be a very loud place particularly in a storm and the more words used in an order the greater the chance for someone to not hear all of the order and become confused.

So just as left and right is always YOUR left and YOUR right, port and starboard is always the SHIP’S port and the SHIP’S starboard. So now we are left with which side is port and how to you know. Standing on the ship you face the bow (front of the ship) put own your left arm – that is the port side of the ship. And that is ALWAYS the port side of the ship.

One more thing about port and starboard we need to learn. The red navigational light on a ship is always on the port side and the green navigational light is always on the starboard side. At the bottom of the article I will give you an example of how that is used, but you don’t need to read it if you don’t want to.

Now we come to the last part of the article. You’ve learned that port is the SHIP’S left, starboard the SHIP’S right, and you’ve learned the red light is always on the port side and green light on the starboard side. But how the hell do you remember that? Specially if you don’t have a chance to use that information for many weeks or months from now!

Easy:

Left                 Right

Port                 Starboard

Red                 Green

The short words are on the left and the long words are on the right. (Yes, the pun was intended. It will make it easier for you to remember.)

BONUS

Now here is the extra I promised you.

When you are at sea at night a ship has to be very close for you to see it by the light of the moon and stars. Long before you can see the ship in detail you may only be able to see the dark silhouette of the ship. By the time the ship is close enough for you to see details it would be too late for the ships to turn to avoid hitting each other.

Have no fear running lights are here. Long before you can see a ship, you will see its running lights. There are many kinds of lights you will see on different ships. Some of them will tell you what kind of ship you are looking at, but we are not going to worry about all those other lights. We are going to worry about just two lights the red and green running lights.

International law has specific rules about how many degrees wide the lights must be able to be seen and how far away you must be able to see them. But we are not learning navigation. We are just seeing how useful these two lights are at night.

First situation. You are on deck looking forward and you see a ship ahead of you. You can see a red light to your left and a green light to your right. This ship is going the same general direction you are. If you are sailing faster you will overtake or pass him.

Second situation. You are on deck looking forward and you see a ship ahead of you. You can see a green light to your left and a red light to your right. This ship is going in the opposite general direction you are. You are on a collision course and one of you needs to turn to avoid hitting each other. Not good.

Third situation. You are on deck looking forward and you see a ship ahead of you. You see a green light but you do not see a red light. You are looking at the starboard side of a ship that is moving left to right.

Fourth situation. You are on deck looking forward and you see a ship ahead of you. You see a red light but you do not see a green light. You are looking at the port side of a ship that is moving right to left.

As you can see these two lights can be help you avoid running into another ship.

I hope you enjoyed and learned something. And remember – the short words port, red, and left on one side of the ship. While the long words are on the other side of the ship – starboard, green, and right.

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