A cruise on the Regina Maris

Nov/Dec 2000

Two recent events prompt this month’s celestial navigation problem. Both have to do with the three-masted barkentine Regina Maris. Built in 1908 in the Danish yard of Ring Anderson, Regina Maris, Queen of the Sea, has had a long and illustrious career in Denmark, Norway, and the United States. The ship was immortalized in Tuning the Rig, a narrative by Harvey Oxenhorn, recounting a passage he made aboard Regina when she was under the stewardship of George Nichols doing research on humpback whales. Tuning the Rig was published in 1990 after a long struggle on the author’s part to get the book in print. The book has just been republished in paperback by Zoland Books. This is a fine tale not only of the ship but also of what it was like for a neophyte to learn the ropes.

On a less happy note is the fate of Regina Maris. After berthing in Greenport, N.Y., for 10 years, the ship was moved to Glen Cove, also on Long Island, two years ago with the hope that it could be restored there. Unfortunately, financial response has been less than overwhelming, and it may come to pass that Regina, which is now partially sunk, will have to be scuttled.

Let’s go back to a happier time when Regina Maris had just exited the Strait of Belle Isle on her way to Greenland. It was July 11. It had been overcast for a couple of days. In his book Oxenhorn had this to say about this particular day. “Rain falls steadily. The temperature is 42 degrees F, the wind northeasterly at 30 knots. Rather than fight it, we heave to. Regina wallows on the long swells, slipping sideways, drifting.” I imagine that there is a break in the clouds and that the navigator, always on the alert, grabs his sextant and somehow manages to snap off a couple of star sights, exactly at twilight. He didn’t have time to precalculate, so he took sights on both stars and decided he could find out what they were by using the Rude Starfinder. When using the Starfinder it is not necessary to identify stars before shooting them. Our navigator got a couple of sights and he wanted to find out which stars they were so that he could calculate a fix. The DR position was 52 degrees 20′ N, by 53 degrees 20′ W. Height of eye was 15 feet and index error on the sextant was 3′ on the arc. The variation was 29 degrees west, and the approximate time of both sights was at 22:00 GMT. There was no deviation on this particular heading. At 22:35:17 GMT the navigator shot Unknown Star 1, getting an Hs of 61 degrees 28.3′ with a compass bearing of 169 degrees.

A: What is the star?

B: What is the intercept?

At 22:37:30 GMT the navigator saw a second unknown star and took a sight. The Hs was 41 degrees 23.8′ and the compass bearing was 249 degrees.

C: What is the star?

D: What is the intercept?

E: What is the fix position of these two LOPs?  

By Ocean Navigator