Page:The Pathfinder of the Seas.djvu/93

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61
HIS WIND AND CURRENT CHARTS

mentioned in 105 days, though the year before this same ship had made the run in 97 days.

Another famous race was run during the winter of 1852-1853, and the ships which engaged in it were the Wild Pigeon, John Gilpin, Flying Fish, and Trade Wind. These ships, as were those in the former race, were all furnished with Maury's charts. After a most interesting and exciting race, the Flying Fish won in just 92 days and 4 hours, though the John Gilpin was a close second, making the passage in 93 days and 20 hours. In commenting on these results, Maury wrote, "Here are ships sailing on different days, bound over a trackless waste of ocean for some fifteen thousand miles or more, and depending alone on the fickle winds of heaven, as they are called, to waft them along; yet, like travelers on the land bound upon the same journey, they pass and repass, fall in with and recognize each other by the way; and what, perhaps, is still more remarkable is the fact that these ships should each, throughout that great distance and under the wonderful vicissitudes of climates, winds, and currents, which they encountered, have been so skillfully navigated that, in looking back at their management, now that what is past is before me, I do not find a single occasion, except the one already mentioned, on which they could have been better handled. ... Am I far wrong, therefore, when I say that the present state of our knowledge,—with regard to the physical geography of the sea, has enabled the navigator to blaze his way among the winds and currents of the sea, and so mark his path that others, using his signs as fingerboards, may follow in the same track?"[1]

The degree of exactness which Maury's knowledge of

  1. "Sailing Directions", sixth edition (1854), pp. 725-730.