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Journal of a Seaplane Cruise Around The World
Part Four: North America

Tuesday, January 1, 1935

Vancouver to Eureka The voyage across the Pacific has been a pleasant interlude and in addition was the excuse for a period of instruction in celestial navigation. The ship's officers made it possible for us to put in some real practice, and we soon learned how very elementary our previous training had been, notwithstanding the fact that it did answer the relatively simple needs of the flight. It was necessary of course to borrow the officers' sextants in order to have good observations. However, the span of usefulness of the regular sextant embraces only the daylight hours, and a period at dawn and at dusk. It is useless at night except when the moon makes a visible horizon. The bubble sextant which we carry can be used any time during day or night when heavenly bodies are visible, and is particularly useful on days of light fog when the sun can be made out, but when there is no natural horizon. We used both instruments, therefore, in order to determine how accurately the bubble instrument could be used on a rolling ship. It proved to be not very satisfactory, because, for the bubble to become level, the ship must have stopped its motion for several seconds. In an airplane such quiet periods occur even on stormy days, but there is no cessation in the roll of a big ship. The best results were obtained when the sea was very calm, but they involved an error of about 4 miles, and when the ocean was rough the error crept up sometimes to 20 miles. To a marine navigator who knows his ship well, this is an impossible margin, because he can follow a dead reckoning course over two or three days with deviations no larger than this.

Perhaps the most pleasant feature of the voyage was the friendship of W.T. Kinley, the Staff Captain, at whose table we have dined. He is a splendid Scot, a fine sailor, and as considerate an officer as any passenger could wish. Since this is the Christmas run, the ship is rather empty, and there are only about 60 passengers aboard. At least half of these are members of the all-American Baseball Team, who are returning from a triumphant tour of Japan, China, and the Philippine Islands. They are under the leadership of Connie Mack, and are all players from the American League: Gehringer, MacNair, Foxx, Miller, Averill, Brown, Gomez, Cascarella, Whitehill, Hayes, and O'Doul, with Quinn for umpire. Ruth and Gehrig were on the team, but are traveling westward around the world. The baseball crowd is, without question, the life of the party! . . . Christmas plum puddings were served on the International Date Line, so that no one was quite sure which day was which. However, since both days were stormy, we should not have minded if the whole occasion had been allowed to slip by unnoticed. The ship called at Hongkong, Shanghai and at several ports in Japan, and then took up a southerly course to Honolulu, so it has been a rather complete excursion of the Pacific. We dock tomorrow, and have decided to fly the airplane all the way to New York on pontoons. It means we shall have to cross to the Atlantic side far down in Mexico, probably at the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.

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