The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Carnegie Yacht

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The Encyclopedia Americana
Carnegie Yacht
Edition of 1920. See also Carnegie (ship) on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

CARNEGIE YACHT. The Carnegie is one of those little known developments which prove, first, how far from perfection the science of to-day is, and, on the other hand, how far it has advanced even within a quarter of a century. The peculiarity of this yacht is that it is non-magnetic; in other words, the only magnetic steel on board her is the compass.

The compass does not, as common thought conceives, point directly to the pole. It is deflected by the variations in the magnetic influence of the earth, by the presence of large masses of iron on board ship and by the neighborhood of certain mountains and islands of volcanic origin. Along the inner passage from Seattle to Alaska the attraction from shore affects a ship's compasses a mile away. Navigation to-day involves the possession of correct information as to these variations of magnetic attraction. This information the Carnegie is engaged in securing.

The yacht is neither owned nor controlled by the man for whom she is named. She was built from the funds of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, founded by Andrew Carnegie, and was launched on 12 June 1909. In six weeks, with the appliances on board, a single cruise enabled her officers to discover systematic errors of importance in the best charts now available. For 10 years the existence of these errors had been more or less suspected, and thousands of observations had been taken by skilful and experienced navigators without definite results. The information gained by the Carnegie is accepted as correct by the leading hydrographic offices of the world.

The best that the commanders of iron vessels have been able to do, hitherto, has been to entrust the examination of their compasses to a professional adjuster, who, when his work is completed, furnished what is called a deviation card showing the corrections or errors of the compass on the various headings of the ship. The investigations of the Carnegie will enable the steamer captain to check up these adjustments with full knowledge of the correct or undisturbed variation, or direction of the compass, in all waters he is likely to traverse. Hitherto the captain's only means for this “checking up” was by personal astronomical observations when the state of the weather permitted. From the aid of the Carnegie, he will soon be able to know exactly how the compass would point were it mounted on a non-magnetic vessel. Comparing this with his compass as adjusted, he has the satisfaction and security of being able to make his calculations on a mathematical certainty.

The ingenuity of the Carnegie's construction merits the attention of even the casual reader. Her dimensions are: Length over all, 155½ feet; length on load water-line, 128-1/3* feet; beam, molded, 33 feet; mean draft, 12 feet 7 inches; displacement, S68 tons; registered tonnage, 246. The materials used were mainly white oak, yellow pine, Oregon pine, and teak. The fastenings are locust treenails, copper and Tobin bronze bolts and composition spikes. The anchors — four in number — are of manganese bronze with a total weight of 5,500 pounds.

There are no anchor chains; instead, three 11-inch hemp cables are used. She is of brigantine rig, with 12,900 square feet of plain sail; riggings, special Russian hemp; metal work on spars, rigging and blocks, of bronze and gun-metal. The auxiliary power consists of one 150 indicated horse-power producer gas engine, built practically of non-magnetic metals, such as bronze, copper and non-magnetic manganese steel. There are two non-magnetic 20-foot whale-boats and one 16-foot gig. The cooking ranges and refrigerating plant are of bronze or copper. The cutlery is Mexican silver. The Carnegie is the first sea-going vessel equipped with a producer gas engine. In calm weather a day's run can be made with auxiliary power alone, of 144 nautical miles, at a cost of $7 for coal consumed. The scientific staff consists of 7 men, and the crew of 14.

Before the building of this unique little vessel (described as a yacht for convenience in entering port, and making arrangements with customs, etc.), the magnetic observers of the Carnegie Institution had sent its brigantine, the Galilee, on cruises amounting in the aggregate to 60,000 miles. Its magnetic observers had penetrated to nearly every part of the earth, and have been, and still are, co-operating with various polar expeditions, securing magnetic data in those regions. The result is a set of magnetic charts for the greater part of the earth at least, the first which can be said to be based upon uniformly and systematically acquired data. The good will and co-operation of every civilized country have been manifested in this great work.

The usefulness of the Carnegie, and of the various forms of work akin to that which she has done, has practically no limitations for the simple reason that not only has the magnetic state of our globe been hitherto unascertained with certainty, but it is constantly changing. This became known as early as 1634, when Henry Gellibrand noted that since 1584 the easterly direction of the compass had changed by seven degrees. Obviously, this affects more or less every survey that is made. Hence the work of the Carnegie Institution extends not only over the sea but also on land. The work by sea is, however, of far greater significance from the point of view of the security of human life, since a variation of a minute fraction in the compass may result — as has been the case once or twice — in the wrecking of a liner on rocks supposed to have been correctly charted. On 8 June 1914, after refitting at New York the Carnegie left for an expedition in the North Atlantic. After visiting Norway, Spitzbergen in the latitude of 79° 52', and Iceland, and covering 10,600 miles, she returned to her base station at Greenport, Long Island, 9 Oct. 1914. She refitted at Brooklyn for a longer cruise during 1915-16, in southern latitudes (50° to 75°), where magnetic observations required supplementing.