The stories of sailing inventors and innovations
George Drower Sutton Publishing, £14.99
This publication for the naval connoisseur is an engaging collection of naval trivia that reveals the lengths to which people went in pursuit of life on the water, and how technologies and instrumentation used nowadays came to fruition centuries ago.
The seven chapters cover subjects ranging from top names in sailing, including first solo circumnavigator of the world Joshua Slocum and, surprisingly, Charles II (who was a yacht racing pioneer), to navigation, pilotage and emergencies.
Here the urge for invention is demonstrated through Capt George Manby who wasn’t content with the world’s first fire extinguisher but also, upon witnessing a shipwreck, invented a device to bring people ashore from a wreck.
Frederick Marryat’s signal flag system, Francis Beaufort’s wind scale, Martha Coston’s signalling flare and Marconi’s SOS system are all aspects of modern nautical practice which were discovered centuries ago.
Though they are taken for granted today, Drower’s book reminds us that such naval apparatus emerged in yesteryear’s desire for discovery and adventure.
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