Page:The Pathfinder of the Seas.djvu/85

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
53
HIS WIND AND CURRENT CHARTS

and that, if it were not for the Nautical Almanac of England or some other nation, absent American ships could not find their way home and those in port could not lift their anchors and grope to sea with any certainty of finding their way back again.

At about the same time Maury began the compilation of a chart of the North Atlantic for the purpose of laying down upon it the tracks of vessels in all seasons of the year, with the currents, prevailing winds, temperature of the water, etc. At first, he had the intention of delineating the track of each vessel on the chart but he soon saw that it would be impossible to do so on the scale adopted (one inch to the degree), and he then resorted to the plan of tabulating the results only instead of marking the track. It was not until the autumn of 1847 that his researches, which had then extended over nearly five years, had reached the point where he could publish his first "Wind and Current Chart of the North Atlantic". This chart was founded entirely upon information derived from the old discarded log books of the Navy Department, for he had not then secured much cooperation in the acquiring of new data. Maury compared his work in the "quarry of log books" to that of a sculptor, the single touch of whose chisel does but little; but finally like the completed piece of statuary the charts speak for themselves and stand out before the compiler "eloquent with facts which the philosopher had never dreamed were lurking near".

Early in the year 1848 Maury issued what he called an "Abstract Log for the Use of American Navigators". This was devised to secure the cooperation of navigators in gathering information for perfecting his charts. It contained but ten pages together with some blank forms,