Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Just finished reading Alan Gurney’s history of the compass, called, quite rightly, Compass: A Story of Exploration and Innovation (2004).

Well worth the read, Gurney covers the thousand years of events that finally lead to what we now use in all manner of getting from points A to B, blithely unaware of the thousands of lives and ships lost in the pursuit of perfecting this ingenious piece of equipment. And the pure bloody-mindedness in one compass-maker’s assertion over another that his compass was the only one – and it only took many more losses of ships and lives to prove who was finally right.

From lodestone, to dry-card compass, to liquid compass, to gyrocompass – reflected in our own personal lives by the small liquid orb we unerringly trust on the foredeck of our kayaks.

I dip my paddle to those who lives were dedicated to developing what Victor Hugo so sweetly called, “the soul of the ship”.


David said...

I look forward to reading it. The book I was trying to remember recently is Dava Sobel's Longitude, of which compasses are an integral part.

Capt'n "O" Dark 30 & Super Boo said...

great post... between you and Sandy Bottom, i might just learn something!!

DaveO said...

I always carry two compasses in case I don't believe the first one!