Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Close to the Wind: the Beaufort Scale

CLOSE TO THE WIND: THE BEAUFORT SCALE; Peter Malone; New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2007; unpaged. Nonfiction.

Science meets history in this finely wrought and beautifully well-illustrated story of Captain Francis Beaufort's development of "a graduated scale for measuring the force of the wind." Told through the eyes and letters of a fictional midshipman of the 19th century Royal Navy,Malone describes how sailors learned to determine wind speed by observing the surface of the sea and the action of the ship. Malone also shows landlubbers what to look for on dry ground.Much naval lore and language of the Napoleonic Wars era shows young readers how sailors reefed and tacked to make headway in heavy seas. Splendid.

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