The Weather Ship has left the Dock

This week Matt and I began constructing the Weather Ship exhibit.  Given our different skill sets, Matt began programming a Simile Timeline while I headed to the archives to collect the weather data from the Vidal Ship Log.


The HMS Glatton left England on September 23, 1802 and traveled to Australia with 17 families of Settlers and an untold quantity of male and female convicts, returning exactly one year later on September 23, 1803.  Given the exactness of these dates I set out to collect the information provided on the 23rd of each month.  Using Google Pages I created a series of 11 graphs, mirroring the daily entries of the Ship Log.  Below is an example of the graph found on October 23rd, 1802.  (Since each graph contains the full 24 hours, I have condensed it for easier reading)

2. October 23, 1802

Hour Courses Winds Remarks and occurences on Board Glatton 23.X.1802.4
1 S.W. SE by E Moderate Breezes and Clear.  Haul’s down the jib to repair it and sail makers employed yesterday.
6 East
8 Moderate and cloudy.  Ships company and convicts employed washing.  Punished one of the men and one of the women (convicts) for theft by shaving half their heads and then tarring it.
Course Distance Lat”, in Long” in Bearings and Distance at Noon
137 miles St. Anthony, Distance 319 Miles

Since my understanding of nautical terminology is limited to what I picked up from Bugs Bunny growing up, I spent a considerable amount of time on the Wikipedia glossary of nautical terms to learn the difference between a Jigger and a Joggle, or the Mizzenmast and the Marlinspike.  (Although this information does not have too much relevance to our exhibit, it frustrates me to write things down without knowing what they mean).

If you read through the graph for October, you will notice that each entry provides a story.  The story involves the direction of the ship, its total distance travelled that day and its final location.  We can gain an understanding of the weather conditions which contributed to making this journey possible.   In later entries, there is evidence of squalls that tear the main sails and bend the masts, requiring repairs and delays.

What I did not expect to read about however, were the many stories about the treatment of the convicts during the voyage.  Theft resulted in a shaved and tarred head on this particular day.  In other entries the neglect of duties resulted in a series of lashes. Matt and I will be meeting to discuss what stories we are going to include on our interactive timeline.  

Timeline on Simile

As mentioned, Matt has been plugging away at the code for a Simile Timeline to track the HMS Glatton’s trip around the world.  This is a really cool (for lack of better term) interactive widget that allows you to breaks down and scroll through a horizontal timeline in days, weeks, months and years.  Simile also has an open-source widget called Exhibit that connects your timeline to an interactive map.  Matt is interested in getting something like this working because he wants us to create a visualization of the Glatton’s voyage through both time and space.  

Matt will be blogging on this element of the project in the near future.  At the moment we are hitting a wall trying to embed events into our timeline successfully.  Although our few hours of trying to find tutorials to assist us in our efforts seemed fruitless, we are continuing to explore different avenues for creating this interactive timeline.

Our To Do List:

After our timeline is complete we need to:

1. Make a controller for audience members to scroll through time. 

2.  Incorporate element to communicate weather patterns – Music is our choice right now.

And, most important…

3. Find a Ship to use for our exhibit.   (We are still open to donations)


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