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Pilot Charts

Nature volume 63, page 494 (21 March 1901) | Download Citation



FROM the popular and astrological point of view, meteorology is as old as the oldest of the canonical writings; but as a scientific study it may truly be said to belong wholly to the great Victorian era of scientific development. It was only in the thirties of last century that Redfield and Reid—the former in America, the latter in the West Indies—set about the patient study of the vagaries of storms, and discovered that these meteors were, like everything else in Nature, subject to natural laws. By the middle of the nineteenth century the progress made by the early pioneers was such that Maury felt justified in utilising the results in the preparation of his pilot charts for mariners all the world over. Maury's charts were certainly not perfect; fifty years afterwards many would, no doubt, regard them as a confused mass of information which would weary the most persistent student in an endeavour to unravel them; but useless as they seemed to be at first sight, they have proved to be the pioneers of the most useful works published in the interest of navigators. It has long been recognised that the sailor wants, in addition to ponderous tomes dealing minutely with every phase of navigation, handy summaries of the more essential features of everyday life on the ocean, arranged in a simple manner for immediate reference. The Board of Trade published charts containing varied information forty-five years ago, and the Hydrographic Department issued its well-known quarterly pilot charts more than thirty years ago. Other nations, France, Holland, Denmark, &c., have devoted much attention to the necessity of keeping mariners acquainted with all the latest information relating to the meteorology of the various oceans. For many years past the Hydrographic Department at Washington has left no stone unturned to popularise its Pilot Chart of the North Atlantic, and of late years it has been perfecting a similar work for the North Pacific. In the meantime, Germany has not only been increasing her naval strength, but her mercantile fleet is daily becoming more and more important, and the latest evidence of this is found in the January number of the Annalen der Hydrographie und Maritimen Meteorologie, in which Dr. Neumayer announces the issue, by the Deutsche Seewarte at Hamburg, of a monthly chart for the Atlantic, mainly for the steamships engaged in the Transatlantic trade.

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