Ortelius, why are we going in circles?

by Jim Mayer Customer story

It seemed as if the ship was not completely certain in which direction to travel, her nose testing the wind. To a certain extent that was the truth of the situation. We knew our destination to Svalbard and therefore the direction of travel should be north: but our ship didn’t know this, yet.
Antarctic Peninsula

Schiff: MS Ortelius

Ortelius Heads North to the Arctic – or does she?

“Why are we going around in circles?”  Only one recently embarked passenger voiced the question that the other 99 were thinking. Our expedition ship Ortelius had just left the dock on her first voyage of the season when she slowly turned a full circle not once, but twice. It seemed as if the ship was not completely certain in which direction to travel, her nose testing the wind. To a certain extent that was the truth of the situation. We knew our destination to Svalbard and therefore the direction of travel should be north: but our ship didn’t know this, yet.

New lecture facilities installed during dry dock

For the preceding three weeks, Ortelius and her crew had been alongside at the ship yard in Hansweert, The Netherlands, for the annual docking period.  It’s a hectic time of maintenance, replacement, refurbishment, testing and decorating.  Safety systems are up dated, passenger and crew accommodation improved, new lecture facilities installed.  Old equipment, walls and doors had been removed and new installed.  Most of these items contain steel and of course steel is magnetic.

We have GPS – do we still need a compass?

Steering by the compass might sound old school in these days of GPS and satellite, but every ship is required to have one, as you never know when you might need to use it. The compass points to the magnetic north pole, but can be rendered inaccurate when surrounded by magnetic material, such as our steel ship and all her contents.

 Magnetic compass display aboard Ortelius © Oceanwide Expedition

Not many children want to be a Compass Swinger when they grow up…

A “Compass Swinger” (that’s a real profession by the way) was embarked for the first 30 minutes of the voyage and under his direction Captain Ernesto Barria turned the ship through a full 360 degrees in order that the compass could be “compensated” for all the changes in the metal fabric of the vessel. The Swinger adjusts the large steel balls sitting either side of the binnacle, as these ferrous balls are the compensators. A second circuit was made to confirm the adjustment and then we were off. North, by the now very accurate compass, to the Arctic and the midnight sun.

Soul of the Ship

Victor Hugo, the French romantic author, spent many years in the Channel Islands where he became acquainted with sea-farers and their ways. He described the compass as the “Soul of the Ship”, which is still true today. Our compass is mounted centrally, atop the wheel house, in pride of place.  Even if modern technology reduces our dependency on the magnetic needle, having a sense of direction is key to the raison d'êtreof any ship. 

Electronic compas aboard Ortelius © Oceanwide Expeditions


So important were compasses to early mariners that the penalty for tampering with the instrument was to be pinned to the mast with a dagger.  Hugo, as campaigner against capital punishment, would not have approved.

Recommended Reading

Alan Gurney’s book “Compass: A Story of Exploration and Innovation”chronicles the misadventures of those who attempted to perfect the magnetic compass.  Gurney, who also wrote about early explorations towards Antarctica, pens a scholarly and well researched book that none-the-less remains readable.


By Jim Mayer


Assistant Expedition Leader and Author “Shackleton – A Life in Poetry

Interessant? Teilen Sie Ihre Wertschätzung:

Ähnliche Reisen

Spitzbergen Umrundung
Bis zu 1850 USD Rabatt

Spitzbergen Umrundung

Eine vollständige Umrundung von Spitzbergen

HDS08-19. Machen Sie eine Kreuzfahrt um Spitzbergen und erkunden Sie die eisigen Gewässer des Nordatlantiks. Diese spezielle Expedition bietet Ihnen die Möglichkeit, Wale, Rentiere, Polarfüchse, Walrosse, Robben und die Hauptattraktion, den Eisbären, zu Gesicht zu bekommen.

m/v Hondius

m/v Hondius

Reisezeit:

14 Jul - 23 Jul, 2019

Preis:

7300 USD 5450 USD 1850 USD Rabatt

Chevron
Ost Grönland – Scoresbysund, Nordlicht
Bis zu 1100 USD Rabatt

Ost Grönland – Scoresbysund, Nordlicht

Erleben Sie das Nordlicht im Scoresby Sund

HDS15-19. Die Ostgrönland - Scoresbysund Fahrt überquert den Polarkreis in Gewässer in denen mehreren Walarten heimisch sind. Die Expedition wird riesige Eisberge sichten, wenn sie in das größte und tiefste Fjordsystem der Welt reisen. Auf der Reise wird das Nordlicht Ihnen den Weg weisen.

m/v Hondius

m/v Hondius

Reisezeit:

17 Sep - 25 Sep, 2019

Preis:

auf Anfrage

Antarktis
Bis zu 1780 USD Rabatt

Antarktis

Klassische Antarktis einschließlich Deception-Island

PLA22-19. Diese Reise zur Antarktischen Halbinsel und den Süd-Shetland-Inseln bringt Sie in eine Landschaft aus dunklem, schroffen Fels; reinem weißen Schnee und einer fantastischen Vielfalt an Tieren. Begrüßen Sie Wale, Robben und Tausende von Pinguinen.

m/v Plancius

m/v Plancius

Reisezeit:

10 Nov - 20 Nov, 2019

Preis:

8900 USD 7120 USD 1780 USD Rabatt

Norden (82 Grad) & Rund um Spitzbergen - Kvitøya
Bis zu 2800 USD Rabatt

Norden (82 Grad) & Rund um Spitzbergen - Kvitøya

Spitzbergen Umrundung mit Besuch der Insel Kvitøya

HDS11-19. Diese Fahrt um Spitzbergen bietet Ihnen gute Chancen, Wale, Füchse, Rentiere, Robben und Eisbären beobachten zu können. Die Expedition wird auf der Insel Kvitøya landen, einem Ort von historischer Bedeutung und Heimat einer großen Walrosspopulation.

m/v Hondius

m/v Hondius

Reisezeit:

10 Aug - 21 Aug, 2019

Preis:

15050 USD 12250 USD 2800 USD Rabatt

Weddellmeer - Auf der Suche nach dem Kaiserpinguin (inkl. Hubschrauber)
Bis zu 1600 USD Rabatt

Weddellmeer - Auf der Suche nach dem Kaiserpinguin (inkl. Hubschrauber)

Auf der Suche nach den schwer zu findenden Kaiserpinguinen

OTL22-19. Eine echte Expedition, unsere Weddellmeer-Reise, mit dem Ziel die Kaiserpinguine in der Nähe von Snow-Hill-Island zu beobachten. Wir werden die Gegend mit dem Helikopter aufsuchen und auf diesem Weg auch eine Vielzahl anderer Vögel und weitere Pinguinarten einschließlich Adélie- und Eselspinguine se...

m/v Ortelius

m/v Ortelius

Reisezeit:

14 Nov - 24 Nov, 2019

Preis:

12950 USD 11350 USD 1600 USD Rabatt