At Knowable, Cristy Gelling looks at new interpretations of Tupaia’s map of the Pacific Ocean. Tupaia was a Polynesian navigator who became attached to Cook’s expedition. His map, drawn beginning in 1769, has confounded observers because its islands do not line up with the actual geography of the Pacific’s islands. One 2018 study deciphers the map with an alternative, more complicated arrangement in which north is at the centre of the map. This proposal is not universally accepted.
Since 2013, Peter Bolt—whose company is called Landfall—has been making bespoke 3D relief models based on from nautical charts, Ordnance Survey maps and aerial photographs (see his portfolio for examples). The models are layered along contour lines—a process that can be seen in several of his videos. Everything is a custom job, made by hand; prices begin around £250 for an A4-sized model and go up from there.
Opening today at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History: The Kingdom of California: Mapping the Pacific Coast in the Age of Exploration, an exhibition of 16th- to 19th-century maps and books from the museums own rare book collection, the Map and Atlas Museum of La Jolla and the Santa Barbara Mission Archive-Library. The Santa Maria Times notes the inclusion of maps showing California as an island as well as 19th-century coastal charts. Admission included with museum admission, runs until 2 January 2019. [WMS]
Last month, the Boston Globe reported on a curious rivalry between two mapmakers and their boating maps of Lake Winnipesaukee, the largest lake in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region. Bizer and Duncan Press, both family businesses, are locked in a bitter battle with one another, as each touts their own map of the lake as the best map. Bizer’s Map (above) claims to have charted more buoys, rocks and boating hazards; Duncan Press takes every opportunity to rubbish its competition on its website: see the comparison page and the FAQ. Some of Bizer’s claims seem unimportant, and so are some of Duncan Press’s critiques of Bizer’s map. All the same it’s fascinating to see such a rivalry on such a small scale. [Andy Woodruff]
Last month the New York Times had a profile of New York Nautical, a store specializing in nautical charts, publications, instruments and related goodies in Manhattan’s Tribeca district. If you’re wondering how they stay in business—because that’s inevitable when talking about a store that’s in the business of selling paper maps today—it turns out that most of their business comes from commercial ships buying charts required by the Coast Guard. [WMS]
The Baltimore Sun: “In a potential sea change for a nautical industry heavy on tradition, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s recent National Charting Plan suggested that, eventually, ‘the reduction or elimination of traditional paper nautical charts seems likely.'” (This is NOAA looking into the future, but note that private companies, rather than NOAA, already do the printing and distributing of paper charts; NOAA’s charts are, of course, available online and can be printed.) [WMS]
Iceberg Finder tracks icebergs around Newfoundland and Labrador, based on satellite imagery and on-the-ground (so to speak) reporting. It’s a project of Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism, which suggests that the bergs are seen more as tourist attractions than hazards to navigation.
In a circular distributed earlier this month (PDF), the U.S. Coast Guard sets out rules allowing mariners to use electronic charts instead of paper charts to fulfil the requirements of keeping charts on board a vessel. “Due to the current state of technology, the Coast Guard believes that official electronic charts provide substantially more information to the mariner, and therefore may enhance navigational safety beyond that of official paper charts.” Commenters on the Practical Sailor’s Facebook page are by and large skeptical. [via]