Wind and Weather
The success of
a voyage always depended on the sailors’ ability to deal with
their natural environment, the ocean.
They had to weather storms, catch the wind in their
sails, and avoid the dangers lurking just below the water’s
surface—rocks, reefs and sand bars.
In the early
years European discoverers had to make charts as they went
along—often not locating a navigational hazard until they
literally bumped into it. These
charts were closely guarded and kept secret—the owners of good
charts were much more likely to have a profitable voyage than
those who had none. Later,
people who settled near dangerous waters often erected
lighthouses to warn travelers of the hazard.
By the 19th century, different lighthouses
sent out different signals, allowing sailors to know where they
were by matching the signal to a list.
Even in the
beautiful Florida Keys, vigilance about the weather is
cumulus clouds can rapidly build into thunderheads.
The region of living coral reef systems corresponds to
the hurricane region. Hurricanes
are seasonal September through October for South Florida.
As early as the 1600s, sailors were knowledgeable about
the seasonality of hurricanes, however they were not able to
forecast them precisely or to predict their path, strength or
Where Ecological and Social Systems Merge
and Playing on the Water