Dont mess with the cook or his wife

56 Navprob

Anyone who has ever gone to sea knows the importance of having a good cook aboard. Regular hot meals and a steady flow of fresh coffee are essential to the running of a sailing vessel. As we all know, cooks, not oblivious to their vast power, can use that sway for either good or evil.

Take the example of Earl Battice, a 24-year-old American citizen signed on as cook aboard the four-masted schooner Kingsway in 1926.

Kingsway, 200 feet on deck, was owned by the African and Eastern Trading Co., an English company selling U.S. lumber to the west coast of Africa and shipping cocoa beans back to the states. Kingsway was leaving the U.S. in November 1926 when her skipper fell ill. Instead of advancing the first mate, Frederick Mortimer, to captain, the company hired an outsider. Fred Lawry, new to the crew and ship, was signed on. The mate and the crew weren’t happy. The cook, sensing a change in the weather, left when the ship arrived in Puerto Rico.

Lawry then hired Battice who had some sea experience and who agreed to sign on provided he could bring his wife Lucille. The crew didn’t much like the idea of a young woman aboard, bad luck and all that, and there was considerable grumbling. The captain was hard-pressed, so he agreed.

As to be expected, trouble began almost immediately. One of the crew, a 30-year-old named Wally Badke, took a shine to Lucille, and before long all aboard knew something was going on. What the crew couldn’t know was that the cook, Battice, had been having an affair in Puerto Rico and he was bragging of this to his wife. She responded by seeking out another man. One night coming upon his wife and lover, Battice fatally stabbed her 21 times. The cook was put in irons. A new man tried to cook, but he didn’t know a skillet from a frying pan. The hungry crew refused to work, so the skipper released Battice. Not the forgiving sort, Battice proceeded to slowly poison the mate and the captain.

As Kingsway approached the African coast, Battice jumped ship twice and tried swimming ashore. Both times he was thwarted by sharks. The ship landed its cargo in Africa and took on cocoa beans bound for New York. By the time Kingsway reached Barbados, the first mate was dead. But the authorities were alerted and the U.S. Coast Guard boarded the ship off New Jersey escorting the vessel into New York.

Battice was tried for murder and served 10 years. After prison he went back to sea.

Poor Capt. Lawry. Despite all his faults, Lawry was an experienced celestial navigator. Let us join the ill-fated ship somewhere out on the high seas while the skipper prepares to get a noon sight. It is Jan. 20 and we will, of course, use the 2010 Nautical Almanac. The height of eye is 16 feet and the sextant error is two minutes on the arc. The DR at the LAN is 23° 12’ N by 52° 20’ W. Capt. Lawry, having a cloudless sky, takes a lower limb shot of the sun. Hs of the sun at the time of LAN is 46° 35.9’.

A. What is time of LAN in GMT at the DR?
B. What is Ho?
C. What is latitude?
(See answers below)


A: LAN time is 15:40 GMT
B: Ho is 46° 45.3’
C: Latitude is 23° 11.7’ N

By Ocean Navigator