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"Find out how to fix longitude and you're the richest man in the world...You're lost, lad, unless...unless you have a rutter!

"A rutter was a small black book containing the detailed observation of a pilot who had been there before. It recorded magnetic compass courses between ports and capes, headlands and channels. It noted the sounding and depths and color of the water and the nature of the seabed. It set down the how we got there and how we got back: how many days on a special tack, the pattern of the wind, when it blew and from where, what currents to expect and from where; the time of storms and the time of fair winds; where to careen the ship and where to water; where there were friends and where foes; shoals, reefs, tides, havens; at best, everything necessary for a safe voyage.

"But a rutter was only as good as the pilot who wrote it, the scribe who hand-copied it, the very rare printer who printed it, or the scholar who translated it. A rutter could therefore contain errors. Even deliberate ones. A pilot never knew for certain until he had been there himself. At least once."

J. Clavell

Send E-Mail to: Laurence E. Heglar, PhD