After reading about the Antarctic explorers Shackleton , Scott, and Amundsen (5 star books), I wanted more information about previous Antarctic and deep South Atlantic Ocean explorers.
Below the Convergence by Alan Gurney is a fascinating read. For me a real page burner. Lots of interesting material. My favorite chapter was about Captain James Cook. Here was a really great nautical man, highly intelligent and thoughtful for his men's safety. Back in the late 1700s the English Royal Navy still used some brutal methods for crew compliance. Also the dreaded "plaque of the seas" scurvy was not understood.
Even though the need for Vitamin C ( Ascorbic acid) was not known, Captain Cook realized eating fresh greens, lemon juice and certain plants and fresh meats helped keep scurvy away. Eating sour kraut and lime juice too ( not as good against scurvy as lemon juice). He was proud that none of the men on his ship Resolution developed scurvy after eating a diet rich in then unknown vitamin C. Captain Cook becomes a hero of the Royal navy with his explorations. He seems to be on the fast track to becoming an Admiral but is horribly hacked to pieces during an attack by natives on his third circumnavigation. One of the greatest explorers and British Royal Navy heroes.
We see explorers like Edmond Halley( astronomer too.. Halley's comet) and his Pink Paramore ship. Also Weddell and Brisbane and John Biscoe, Kemp, Balleny and Ross as well as a Russian explorer. Many were sealers and whalers who went deep south for the riches of seal furs, and oil. Millions of seals killed with no conservation of a limited resource. Some seals hunted almost to extinction. A fascinating account of seal, penguin and whale slaughter. The animals were needed for furs and oil but absolutely no conservation.Horrible vast indiscriminate slaughter.
There was reference to Charles Darwin and the Voyage of the Beagle. Interesting, so I bought that book on Amazon also. Reading it now.
The big hold back on accurate long distance sea navigation for centuries was getting the right longitude. Money prizes were given out for developing accurate methods. Both lunar methods and chronograph watches developed. We see the eventual improvements of being able to find different islands and better charts with improved longitude readings.
Alan Gurney did a great job of giving a history of exploration south of the convergence zone from 1699-1839. Anyone interested in Antarctic exploration, and the different animals encountered in the deep southern Atlantic Ocean will like this book. Some great maps showing the routes the various explorers/sealers/Royal Navy/ / merchant marine members went as well as some interesting b/w pictures. A great book. 5 stars