Storm Petrel and the Admiral of the Western Seas
- It's satisfying to find if at some time PCB makes public an answer to
some problem or other he'd earlier posited, pondered, and then kinda
left unresolved. It's sometimes a kind of puzzle of puzzles, and,
wow, hasn't PCB posed some questions or raised much conjecture over
time! Sometimes the answer is there, the tests are done, and it's up
to how his text is read. Sometimes the answer, or corroboration of
the gems of Bolger thinking that he sometimes does out loud, comes
from elsewhere. In the end a solution is nice to have, but, hey,
someone, PCB, had to first ask the question.
In writing up STORM PETREL, PCB posited that letting go one anchor,
OR MORE, with all the warp available, in no bottom water, ought to be
at least as effective as most sea anchors. He wrote that he didn't
understand why sea anchors were designed to float. He thought they
might be better below the surface drift, in deeper water, and the
warps would have more resistance and better steady the bow the more
they trended to the verticle.
I asked here quite some time ago if it was known whether PCB had
resolved the conjecture presented in this apparent thought
experiment, or if there was other information one way or another.
Well, I was watching an already interesting German/Mandarin tv doco
the other week on the great 15th century Chineese fleets, the Dragons
of the Sea, and sat bolt upright when a segment on how the fleets
managed to keep the seas once no sail would stand in the midst of an
oceanic cyclone showed their technique to be the dropping of TWO
heavy bow anchors as deep as possible .
Bolger does it again!
A bit more on the fleets, if you care for it -- As of the year 1400,
China had by far the best, the biggest, and the largest number of,
ocean-going ships in the world under the command of the the imperial
court eunuch Admiral Zheng He. Between 1405 and 1432 the Chinese
Emperor Yongle sent 7 ocean-going fleets, the so-called treasure
fleets, out from China. Zheng He's initial objective was to enroll
far flung states into the Ming tributary system. The fleets comprised
hundreds of ships; they had total crews of 20,000 men; each of those
ships dwarfed the tiny ships of Columbus, from 4 to 30 times bigger
(Treasure Ships up to 400 - 600ft LOA, 170ft BOA - a football
field!); and those gigantic fleets sailed from China to Indonesia, to
Sri Lanka, to India, to Arabia, the Gulf, to the east coast of
Africa, and down the east coast of Africa. It looked as if the
Chinese were on the verge of rounding the Cape of Good Hope, coming
up the west side of Africa, and colonizing Europe. There were many
specialist ships: for example, the scourge of scurvy was solved by
special farm ships that grew soybean sprouts ( shades of Bolger's
MARGARET MEAD conceptual study around the time of of the test model
NANCY JACK #378 ), animal transports for beef and the cavalry
horses, and large fresh water carriers. They used star charts,
compass, and peculiar though surprisingly accurate
navigation "charts" that required the fleet to travel at a set pace
so that when they made a turn after a certain time they ended where
These ships, fleets, sailors, and their Admiral's deeds were indeed
awesome. There were many fantastic acheivements. Zheng He [aka Cheng
Ho], a contemporary of Columbus, rates way up there with him, Cook,
Yi Sun-sin, et al.
http://www.chinapage.com/zhenghe.html to see a comparitve drawing
of Zheng He's treasure ship and Columbus' St Maria.