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View Full Version : The SS Warrimoo was where?



Brian Probetts (Site Admin)
23rd December 2016, 04:04 PM
The passenger steamer SS Warrimoo was quietly knifing its way through the waters of the mid-Pacific on its way from Vancouver to Australia.

The navigator had just finished working out a star fix & brought the master, Captain John Phillips, the result.

The Warrimoo's position was LAT 0o 31' N and LON 179o 30' W. The date was 31 December 1899.

"Know what this means?" First Mate Payton broke in, "We're only a few miles from the intersection of the Equator and the International Date Line".

Captain Phillips was prankish enough to take full advantage of the opportunity for achieving the navigational freak of a lifetime.

He called his navigators to the bridge to check & double check the ships position.

He changed course slightly so as to bear directly on his mark. Then he adjusted the engine speed. The calm weather & clear night worked in his favour.

At midnight the SS Warrimoo lay on the Equator at exactly the point where it crossed the International Date Line! The consequences of this bizarre position were many:

The forward part (bow) of the ship was in the Southern Hemisphere & the middle of summer. The rear (stern) was in the Northern Hemisphere & in the middle of winter.

The date in the aft part of the ship was 31 December 1899. Forward it was 1 January 1900.

This ship was therefore not only in two different days, two different months, two different years, two different seasons but in two different centuries - all at the same time.


Thanks to Ken R651123 for this Article.
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Des Taff Jenkins
24th December 2016, 12:37 AM
Hi Brian.
We lived just a mile from Warrimoo in the Blue mountians. Lovely name for a ship with importance.
Cheers Des

j.sabourn
24th December 2016, 01:11 AM
Although a good story. In those years it is very doubtful that a star sight would be so accurate, if he had mentioned the size of his cocked hat the 5 stars had produced his navigational skills could have been more closely ascertained. I was mate for a lot of years and took star sights mostly twice a day depending on weather and cloud conditions, and if could get a fix within 2 miles considered that excellent results. Today no problem as ships accurate position is always there by Sat. Navigator. To within a couple of feet. In 1899/1900 his daily rate on his chronometer(s) would be by guess and by God, as was no radio for time checks. A couple or even one second out would have a bearing on his accuracy. It was the same formula then I believe, or it may have been slightly different as Local hour angles and Greenwich hour angles may have been worked out differently the same as in our day one on a sun sight could work it out Longitude by Chronometer or by the Marq St Hilaire method which was Hav ZX = Hav LHA Cos Lat Cos Dec, plus Hav ( Lat diff Dec.) Might sound complicated but is not but put the wrong figure in and you don't get 100 per cent accuracy. So starting with the Chronometer being out is the first discrepancy. I would say it was nigh on impossible to accept the findings of the vessel of being in that position with any certainty. If it had been it would have been there for the world to see. There would have been no way to prove and would not have been acceptable to Scientists of the Day. As said is a good story and will appeal to non navigators. Cheers JS

j.sabourn
24th December 2016, 03:21 AM
Cocked Hat is the middle of where the 5 position lines cross usually took the centre of the area where they usually left an area where non crossed if that area was less than 2 miles then that was a good sight. If all 5 lines crossed exactly in the same place then that was a phenonema. Would take at least between 40 to 60 minutes to work out and plot 5 stars. JS

Ivan Cloherty
24th December 2016, 09:12 AM
Cocked Hat is the middle of where the 5 position lines cross usually took the centre of the area where they usually left an area where non crossed if that area was less than 2 miles then that was a good sight. If all 5 lines crossed exactly in the same place then that was a phenonema. Would take at least between 40 to 60 minutes to work out and plot 5 stars. JS

40 - 60 minutes !! Errol Flynn used to do it in two minutes or less in the movies just by looking at the sextant. Agree with #3 and #4 would take that time, plus frequent trips to the bridge windows to keep an eye on that ship that appeared out of nowhere when surrounded by thousands of miles of open water

Captain Kong
24th December 2016, 09:30 AM
Alan Ladd didn't even need that. in the film, about the Antarctic, He is stood on the Gangway in Cape Town and shouts,
"Let go fore and aft, Quartermaster! steer a course for Hong Kong". fantastic.
.
In Errol`s favour , he could really navigate, He sailed his Yacht ZACCA from L.A. down and around Cape Horn to Jamaica. and across the Atlantic.
Brian