GOING BOLDLY – across, beneath and beyond the ocean

This was a talk given on Zoom by Jeremy Batch in January 2021. The title of the lecture was intriguing and we didn’t know quite what to expect. But Jeremy was full of surprising facts about all sorts of nautical events, ancient and modern. In 1968 the ship USS Yorktown had a rendezvous with another ‘ship’. They were to meet the three men from the spaceship Apollo 8 who had just travelled to the moon and back travelling at speeds of 24,500mph. But it was the landing of the capsule that was problematic.  The capsule should land in an upright position, or Stable 1.  We learnt that the basic design of the capsule to enable it to float the right way up was not dissimilar to one of Leonardo de Vinci’s designs for a parachute in 1485.

We saw that even in ancient times, the Egyptians wore lifejackets.  In 1854 the RNLI crew wore lifejackets made of cork.  Later they were made from kapok and in the last war the RAF used the Mae West inflatable jacket, not as comfortable as our modern devices.  The RAsought permission from Mae West to use her name for this, and her answer was, “I’ve been in Who’s Who, and I know what’s what, but it’ll be the first time I ever made the dictionary”!

We discovered that early ships were usually made from papyrus but later wooden ships were commonplace, but these rot over time.  This rot is caused by shipworm and gribbles.  Many of us have our yachts coppercoated to prevent marine growth, but this is not new.  Ships were first protected by using copper plates as early as 1761.

One of the biggest killers for sailors on long voyages was scurvy, but eventually a cure in the form of lemon juice was found – a good source of vitamin C, as too is cider!

Jeremy also talked about the early evolution of diving equipment culminating in the scuba gear we use today.

Over 60 members enjoyed this talk and we look forward to welcoming Jeremy back for another entertaining lecture in October.

Helen Jupp

Social Secretary Yachts