My uncle Bob dropped off this pretty little relic of the past yesterday. It might not look like much, but this device is a sounding lead and it was used for navigation by the ships of yesteryear to take bottom samples and, most importantly, take depth readings. As with many early innovations, it is perfectly simple in it's design and execution: a three pound weight (or 'lead' as they are called) is attached to a line. The weight (which has a hole on the underside to collect bottom samples) was then cast over the side of the boat by a "leadsman" and when it hit the bottom, he would yell out what depth read on the line. Knots in the line mark certain depths in fathoms and "Mark twain" ('twain' being 'two' in Old English), for example, was the call for two fathoms (and the inspiration for the pen name of Samuel Clemens, himself a former Mississippi river pilot). A lead much like the one pictured was what Columbus used to bring his ships to the shore of the new world. A similar contraption made sure Magellan's ships didn't run aground. This little pice of metal and line had quite a responsibility.
Items like this are a nice reminder that before we all became so reliant on technology and obsessed with gadgets, there was another way. While I certainly benefit from and love technology, I do tend to think that the ease in which we do everything nowadays and our dependence on the push of a button is atrophying our minds to think in other ways...I think that's why I love cruising - because no matter how many gadgets you have, there will come a time when you must revert to some old school logic. What do you think?
Brittany, Scott & Isla