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Saturday Seminar 17th January 2015

East Midlands Branch First Saturday Seminar List of Speakers and Abstracts

RIN East Midlands Branch Saturday Seminar 17th January 2015

The Long Journey Home

1. 10.30 Chris Tarratt – The wrecking of the Vergulde Draek

In April 1656 the 260 tonne, 42 metre, Dutch trading yacht Vergulde Draek (Golden Dragon), en-route from Amsterdam to Batavia with a crew of 193 and a cargo which included eight chests of silver coin, struck the west coast of New Holland. 75 men survived the wreck, and seven of them successfully sailed 1400 miles north in a small boat to summon help. Despite rescue missions at the time, no trace was found of the remaining survivors until quite recently. In addition to discussing the above, Chris will also concentrate upon the intense commercial pressures on the master and crew of such vessels to take the most enormous risks in search of profit.

2. 11.10 Lena Moser - ‘Poor Captain Cook is no more’: The Long Journey Home of the Resolution and the Discovery

James Cook’s three voyages of exploration have been researched and analysed in every aspect and detail up until the time of his death on Hawaii in February 1777. However, most accounts stop there and gloss quickly over the remaining 20 months of the third voyage. Lena’s talk will concentrate on the months after Cook’s death when the officers tried desperately to keep the expedition together and carry on the survey work. During this time many further important contributions to the charting of the World were made, and a final attempt was made at passing beyond the Bering Strait. Under a new captain dying of tuberculosis, tensions rose among the officers, which would continue to play themselves out long after the voyage.

3. 11.50 Christopher Sweetman

Amundsen’s Land Navigation Techniques during his South Pole Expedition

The Long Journey Home

On Thursday 14th December, 1911, Amundsen and his four team-mates made it to the South Pole. The expedition achieved its twin goals by reaching the target of its destination and planting the Norwegian flag on the geographical South Pole ahead of any other nation. However, in Amundsen’s mind there was another equally important goal that of getting back home. So in the moment of triumph “The Long Journey Home” was put in motion.

Amundsen knew that the journey back, when man and dogs were mentally, physically, and spiritually fatigued, was even more crucial than the journey out. With this in mind he had already planned for the journey home on the outbound route. Firstly, the way back resembled a Norwegian cross country ski course on epic continental proportions with flag markers aiding direction. Secondly, he was able to utilise these markers in a way that would be familiar to a modern day orienteer.

Marker flags were used to create catching features to prevent overshooting a supply cache on the homeward journey. This also enabled using a technique which is now a proven land navigation method “aiming off”. The marker flags established on the outward journey were in reality human made handrail features to facilitate navigation and route finding on the way back home.

Using established cross country ski route planning alongside land navigation techniques familiar to today’s orienteers enabled Amundsen to keep on track and successfully locate supply caches. Both of these interventions made “The Long Journey Home” a success.

4. 13.30 Dave Pike – Lindberg’s Attitude to Air Navigation

Hear Charles Lindberg’s essentially practical views on air navigation as delivered to Cadets at the RAF College Cranwell in 1937, and note his remarkably accurate predictions upon how the next war would be fought in the air.

5. 14.10 Jeff Jefford – The Bang That Never Was! - V Bomber Rear Crew Escape

The anomaly which allowed Britain's V Bombers to be supplied with ejection seats for only the two pilots has long been a bone of contention amongst rear-crews and others. Jeff will explain how this situation arose and describe the various solutions put forward over the years to undo the wrong. He’ll also explain why none of these, save a couple of tiny improvements, were ever incorporated into the aircraft.

6. 14.50 Richard Nissen

The mystery of animal navigation remains with us. There are all sorts of theories but most are flawed or leave out important issues. For instance knowing where Magnetic North is does not help you find your way home – you need to know where your home is and the bearing to get there.

Richard Nissen, editor, will discuss the various theories that exist and the problems that are associated with them. It is clear that there is much to learn and that different species have different strategies.

Richard will be looking for participation by RIN navigators to help begin to unravel the issues. Clearly the navigation cues change from the start of the journey when rough direction is all that is required until you arrive at you neighbourhood and ultimately at “your front door”.

  • 04 January 2015
  • East Midlands Branch

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