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Week 06 : Weathering the Storm

[ View the related 'Weekly Post': Week 06 - a 'perfect Hurricane' ]

We catch up with the John Pirie again this week as it finally clears the English Channel and heads for the Atlantic Ocean.

An oil painting by Washington Allston of ships in a storm at sea, 1804.

Storm Rising at Sea, 1804. Oil painting, Washington Allston

It doesn’t take long for more problems to arise for the John Pirie when it is caught up in a severe storm. This week we take a look at the impact stormy weather can have on sailing ships and investigate what causes storms at sea.

Inquiry Questions:

How does the language used in the journal excerpts tell us about the severity of the storm?

What measures do Captain Martin and his crew take to keep the John Pirie safe during the storm?

A reference is made to pumps being used to siphon water out of the ship. Imagine how this pump system would have worked?

What other tools and equipment would have been used in emergencies onboard?

Research Topics:

Find out about different types of storms. What are their features? What causes these storms?

How do storms at sea compare to inland storms?

Investigate the regions of the world that are most subject to severe storms.

How are storms measured and recorded? How has this changed over time?

 

Historical Skills:

Chronology, terms and concepts Read through the journal entries over the past few weeks and record all of the words used to describe the weather. Start a class word bank of weather words and consider how the use of these terms has changed over time.
Historical Questions and research Captain Morgan refers to Friday April 1st as 'Good Friday'. Are there any other references to Easter in the weekly entries? Pose questions about how Easter may have been acknowledged onboard and by whom? How many times has Good Friday fallen on April 1st in history? Do all Christians celebrate Easter on the same dates?
Analysis and use of sources Examine weather maps and satellite images to determine weather conditions.  What conditions are suitable for sailing vessels of this size and at what point does it become dangerous to sail?
Perspectives and interpretations The captains from all three ships describe the weather this week. Compare the language and information each captain uses to describe the weather.
Explanation and communication Use weather web sites to determine current weather activity in England and Australia Use maps to communicate current weather conditions around the world.

Activity Suggestions:

1. Look at the image in this week's entry. How does the artist create the impression of a storm? What colours and techniques have been used to create a stormy mood? Paint or draw your own impression of one of our ships during a  storm.

2. In our diaries from 1836, weather is a very important topic. 175 years later major weather events are still impacting on our lives. Consider some of the recent wether events and how they have impacted on communities and environments.

3. Design an instrument to collect information about the weather. Will your instrument measure wind, rain, temperature or another weather feature?

4. Keep a record of the weather in your area over the next few weeks. Are there any current weather warnings where you live?  How does this weather compare to accounts of the weather in the diaries?

5. The John Pirie was caught in the  storm whilst in the Isle of Wight. What is the weather like in the Isle of Wight today? Click here to keep an eye on the Isle of Wight.

6. Have a go at controlling the weather.

What if?

What if these sailing ships were modern vessels sailing in 2011? How would the storms have impacted on their voyages compared to 1836?

What do you think?

Consider this statement and form your own opinion:

Storms in 1836 were more severe than storms in 2011.

Stay Tuned

 Next week Captain Martin struggles to return to England to make repairs to the badly damaged John Pirie. Some of the passengers and crew have had enough and want to leave the ship. We look at the kinds of occupations and jobs needed to keep the ships sailing smoothly. If one of the crew leaves the ship how will they manage?

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Image credit: National Archive

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