"Present day navigators are apt to place so much reliance on mechanical and tabular aids that we sometimes forget that primitive peoples were able to voyage over a large part of the world without any such devices. A study of these primitive methods shows that there are many valuable aids we have neglected or forgotten, and that a continued reliance on mechanical aids places us in a very helpless position when deprived of them. In the lore of the sea and the sky one can still find those fundamental and simple means which gave early man confidence and enabled him to find his way on the trackless seas."
The book’s covers are blue heavy paper stock, embossed in silver with a majestic, soaring albatross upon a field of stars. Within its original slipcase are also two large folding leaves containing tables for navigation computations, scales for measuring distance ("Greenwich date and hour scales”) and a unique world-wide chart. What librarian could resist a survival book that first acknowledges one of its own, C. R. Taylor of the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington, New Zealand? Isn’t my profession all about navigating through an ocean of information?
|"Harold Gatty instructs an Air Corps officer in the use of the drift indicator he invented" National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution (link here)|
|Lockheed Vega "Winnie Mae" National Air and Space Museum|
Other editions of The Raft Book—in a smaller type, with fewer of the colored plates, less of a lyrical cover, and waterproofed—soon became part of the survival kits of all Allied airmen serving in the Pacific Ocean theater. The publication portrays the world’s oceans not as indifferent or hostile but teeming with life, with routes voyaged for centuries by many cultures, including the Phoenicians, the Arabians, and the Vikings. Gatty conveyed his deep knowledge of using the sea and sky and their movements to find one’s way to land, interspersed with quotes from Shakespeare, Dante, and William Cullen Bryant, not at all pretentiously but to underline a particular lesson.
Now do I lay the bows of my canoe
To the rising of the Sun, nor deviate from there
US Army Air Corps Avigation Training