July/August Issue 242: Oliver Hazard Perry: The man and the ship


Oliver Hazard Perry, the man (1785-1819), was born into a family of naval officers. Son to Navy Captain Christopher Raymond Perry and older brother to Commodore Matthew Perry, Oliver Hazard Perry saw service in the Mediterranean in the war with the Barbary pirates and then in the Caribbean while fighting the illegal slave trade and piracy. He is most remembered, though, for his service in the War of 1812 against the British in the Battle of Lake Erie. During this battle, which was a turning point in the war, he entered the famous phrases by which he is remembered. His famous message sent to General William Harrison read in part, “We have met the enemy and they are ours.”

Fast-forward to 2017 with the completion of the building and launching of the sailing school vessel Oliver Hazard Perry, the largest sail-training civilian sailing ship in the U.S. and the first full-rigged ship built in the U.S. in more than 100 years. Oliver Hazard Perry is certified to carry 32 passengers and is run by a crew of 17, some of whom are licensed maritime academy graduates, led by Captain David Dawes.

A full-rigged ship, unlike a barque or a brig, has square sails on all the masts, fore and aft. In the case of Perry, there are three masts. The vessel is 200 feet, draws 13.5 feet and carries 20 sails with auxiliary power provided by twin 385-hp biodiesel engines. The ship is built of steel with a 30.5-foot beam. According to the website, Perry “is not a replica but a modern steel-hulled vessel purpose-built for training and education to the highest modern safety standards.” The passengers are there in name only. No one gets to lollygaggle around. They participate in sail-handling, watchkeeping and all the other myriad tasks necessary to keep a sailing ship operating safely.

This past April, Oliver Hazard Perry took a group of students from Fort Lauderdale to Bermuda to study celestial navigation and weather. The navigation instructor, Ocean Navigator editor Tim Queeney, is an experienced navigator and teacher, and Chris Parker is an accomplished meteorological instructor.

Although the students had other tasks assigned to them, they got the most out of the good weather to practice their celestial observations. On April 4, 2017, Queeney had his class take an observation of the sun. In this instance, it is a lower limb sight observation. The height of eye is 17 feet, there is no index error and we will be using the 2017 Nautical Almanac. The DR at the time of the sight is 29° 15’ N by 76° 52’ W. The time of the observation in GMT is 12:26:42. This is a morning sight with the sun bearing about 90° from the vessel. The importance of this observation can’t be overstated, for when the bearing of the celestial object is at 90° and the vessel itself is heading on a northerly course, it is possible when drawing a line of position to get a good sense of longitude.

The Hs of the observation is 19° 16.7’, and what we are solving for here is our line of position and our estimated position.

A. What is the Ho? 
B. What is the intercept? 
C. What is the estimated position (EP)? 

A. The Ho is 19° 26’
B. The intercept is 1 nm away, bearing 095°
C. The EP is 29° 15’ N by 76° 56’ W

By Ocean Navigator