Quote of the Month

"Not all those who wander are lost." J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, 1954.

“We must change our attitudes toward the ocean. We must regard it as no longer a mystery, a menace, something so vast and invulnerable that we need not concern ourselves with it … Instead we want to explore the themes of the ocean’s existence—how it moves and breathes, how it experiences dramas and seasons, how it nourishes its hosts of living things, how it harmonizes the physical and biological rhythms of the whole earth, what hurts it and what feeds it—not least of all, what are its stories.” Jacques Yves Cousteau, 1910-1997.

"It's the glory of the sea that has turned my head." Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island, 1894.

"It is with you as with the sea: the most varied names are given to what is in the end only salt water." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Maxims and Reflections, 1833.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Ancient America sailing


I'm re-reading this book for a paper I'm writing. It is rich in references on the use of sails by native Americans from north to south, and especially in the Caribbean. The sails were made of heavy cotton or matting (palm fronds). For long voyages, they attached canoes to the sides of their pirogues (piraguas) for stability, storage, and to create a wider surface (for housing and even fire provision), much like a catamaran or trimaran these days. Men and women sailed. Some sources report the use of 2 sails, triangular in shape, later known as the Marconi rigging from the Bahamas. This rigging is now used in sloops like Andariego. They could sail close to the wind. In first encounter days (not discovery), Europeans could only sail downwind following the Gulf Stream currents. Who learned from whom?