Chapter 8 Notes

The text in the book on page 55 reads:

The Jolly boat you used to fall in with us. It was clinker built in the French design of this time.

Wooden boats use 2 distinct methods to lay the hull’s planking:

  1. Clinker built boats have their planks overlapped
  2.  Carver built boats have their planks joined at the edge with a seam of caulking between the two to make it watertight.

As you can see here:


The Clinker method was the original way, replaced by Carver in the 14th C. Carver hulls were stronger, able to support heavier rigs and thus bigger and faster ships. Carver hulls also allowed a gun port lid to be cut into the hull, which could be lowered into place and sealed closed, keeping water out. This in turn allowed the guns to be located lower down on the hull. Bigger ships had a row of guns a few feet above the waterline with rows of lighter guns above.

This in turn allowed heavier and bigger guns to be installed, as the weight could be low down in the ship acting as ballast. Carver built hulls, in contrast, required the guns to be mounted on the top deck and fired through the railings.

Your beautiful ship will be obsolete: Josh tells Thomas, that, “Within the next fifty years, for example, my Lord, your beautiful ship will be obsolete. I do not mean worn out, tired and old. I mean useless against her enemies, as new forms of guns will be invented soon, new forms of hull design and construction, new forms of propulsion and, were you to see Bit-by-Bit, it is doubtful that you would recognize her as a ship, at first.”
HMS Warrior is moored in the Historic Dockyards
and was the world’s first iron-hulled ship.
HMS Warrior
For twenty-two years from her launching in 1860, she was the world’s most powerful weapon. Dickens described Warrior as: ‘A black vicious ugly customer as ever I saw, whale-like in size, and with as terrible a row of incisor teeth as ever closed on a French frigate.’

Napoleon III obviously agreed, for he abandoned his plans to invade England when she was launched. Warrior never fired a shot in anger, an example of how owning the biggest stick sometimes means you don’t have to use it. She was powered by steam and sail and was capable of more than 17 knots, using both. She carried 26, 68-pound muzzle-loaders and 8 new-fangled, rifled, breech-loaded, 110-pounders. Both of these refinements were important: the rifling made the shell rotate in flight and produced much higher accuracy, and the breech loading meant the gun could be loaded from the rear, as opposed to down its mouth like all previous canons. This mean the gun could be loaded in place without losing it’s aimed at spot, and was also reloaded more quickly. Although, as is often the case with new improvements, not without danger, for the shells sometimes exploded in the breech killing the gun crew.

Readers have asked about the items Josh takes with him to convince Thomas and James that he’s from the 21st C.

Why these three items?

To begin with, why not a DVD player or 3D, or even better a Virtual Reality experience? Josh wants to ease them into Future Shock, not convulse them. The first known photographically recorded image appears to date to 1816, when Nicéphore Niépce combined the camera obscura with photosensitive paper.

It’s a safe bet that our friends have only seen life-like images like these on paintings, and their paintings didn’t come to life. Josh reasons that a movie would instantly be dismissed as an illusion – literally beyond belief. And then, too the sea’s salty, water-borne air shortens the life span of electronic devices considerably. Thomas and James would be impressed by an inert DVD’s appearance and manufacture, but they would not leap to their feet if it didn’t light up its screen because something had corroded.

Josh decides that his first item must be something which is guaranteed to work without a flaw. To reduce Future Shock, it should be something they recognize instantly, but be astonished at what’s its become. He chooses a Swiss Army Knife. They will recognize each tool on it for what it is and understand what it does. He can demonstrate them quickly, give Thomas and James the knives, and let them explore their functions without need for further instruction.

Now they’re ready for something they have never seen. While Zip-Lock bags seem low-tech to us, the concept of a disposable bag, let alone one made of clear plastic, was new. 19th C shoppers carried their goods home in the cotton-bags or baskets they brought with them. To Thomas and James, the idea of a storekeeper giving you a bag for free which you took home and thew away would be viewed as nuts. It is, of course, but that’s a whole different story. Our friends would likely be puzzled by Josh telling them this bag is made of plastic, as it looks nothing like the plastic he just called the knife’s handle, and if that’s not enough, the only transparent objects they know of are made of glass. Brittle, poor quality glass at that, which distorted light rays. Yet here was something you could crunch up and unroll, but which was so clear it was almost invisible. Our two friends would marvel how they could capture water or air, just by pressing their finger tips together.

And the iPhone? Electronic to be sure (and rest assured Josh carries more than one on board), but reliable, especially if stored in a silicon-bagged and sealed box. Much less risky than a DVD player or computer with its disks not hermetically sealed. And, being his last option in the cutter, he must have something to truly blow them away. But not too far away: Zeppelin will never do. He goes for the Haydn they know.

Before I decided that a movie would be a little over the top, I did wonder about which movies to take, of course… Aliens, Jurassic Park? Or, using the same logic which led to Haydn, a movie like Master and Commander, Far Side of the World?

Oh yes, why not the rocket launcher? Too much noise and fiery effects for Impérieuse and her crew to witness.

What would you take, and why?

Herbert George Wells was the first person to think about traveling through time in a direction other forwards and one second at a time. Since then there have been many stories and movies using the same plot construct.

In 1985, Robert Zemeckis directed the movie Back to the Future starring Christopher Llyod and Michael J. Fox. The time machine in this movie was a DeLorean motor car, and the Doc tells Marty that the machine will transit when the speed hits 88 MPH. Using Josh’s rule of ten times (from the first version of the book), the speed of Dr. Herbert George’s time machine was set to 8.8 MPH, or 8 knots. Well not quite 8 knots for you observant readers, as 8 knots is 8*1.15 which is 9.44 MPH.

Interesting date, the movie’s release – reverse the two sets of numbers and you get the date Wells’ book was published – a bit like 1984 was written in 1948.

Some Wells’ fans, and perhaps some fans of the Back to the Future movies, too, may take exception to  Josh’s statement that he and Ses will be the first human to travel through time. In the footnotes to the first draft of this book, Josh said that he and Ses were the eight and ninth people to travel through time. Marty McFly was the first, Doc the second, Marty’s girl. Jennifer third, the Doc’s wife Claire and their 3 children fourth to seventh. And if you’re complaining about The Time Traveller in Well’s book, remember it was fiction.

Readers wondering why Josh takes the items he does to show Thomas and James, will find the answer in one of Chapter Twelve’s notes.

But what 3 items would you take, if your mission was to go back to the 19th C and convince someone that you’re from the 21st C? To play, you have to follow the same rules Josh did:

1) You have to carry the item with you in Bit-by-Bit, so it has to be small and compact. Weight is an issue.
2) Marine environments are not electronics friendly. Obviously computers and the usual toys work, but to ensure that any one of them operates at the critical moment, you have to take precautions. You can use these items, but you have to explain how you would ensure they light-up when switched on.
3) If you cause Future Shock your contact dies. This is difficult to quantify, but reactions larger than Thomas’s and James’s to Josh’s demo, register as a heart attack and you’re out.

What would you take, and why? If you would like to play, please go to the note and use the comments form.