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Roger Arguile

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  1. I note Robert Liddiard's comment about how far and fast boats driven by sail or oars could travel. Alas, the issue is complicated by the matter of tides. A vessel travelling for twelve hours will spend half the time moving against contrary tides and while this may seem to be cancelled out by favourable tides this will not always be so because one's boat is in a different place at the end of a tide from where it started. Further, some ports can be accessed and sailed from only at certain states of the tide. For example, a vessel can leave Wells-nest-the-Sea only two hours either side of high. If sailing north it will struggle with an adverse tide running east and could easily only reach the Lincolnshire coast at a tme when the southerly tidal flow has begun, thus further delayng progress. Given that adverse winds can prevent progress especially in the case of square rigged vessels, the norm for much of the period, it is not surprising that speeds of one knot were the average predicted by those in the know, certainly when writing of the Bordeaux run in the sixteenth century. I sail. A trip from Grimsby to Wells took eleven hours but most of the way I was motoring. Otherwise it might have taken weeks waiting for a favourable win. Ask Nelson.

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