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Re: The Way of Torres

February 8 2012 at 7:29 PM
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Felix  (no login)
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Response to The Way of Torres

"For these reasons vessels approaching from the East would have sailed to make landfall near Port Moresby and if not familiar with these waters, would have had to make use of the services of a pilot to make the passage."

No, not really, landfall was made at Bougainville/Choiseul, with a course through the Louisiade Archipel, Jomard Entrance to Bligh Entrancce etc. or Bougainville/Choiseul, China Strait to Bligh Entrance. Really inexperienced hottentots or those without the complete set of charts were directed to pass east from Rossel Spit and pick up a pilot.

It is a published route in "Ocean Passages for the World" 2nd(1923)ed. which was pretty much a standard work on all vessels. It still is a required work today (5th ed.) although much less used.

Now charting was (and still is) a problem in this entire area. In 1942 there were simply not sufficient updated charts on the west coast US. Even today there are whole areas either unsounded, or unreliably sounded. The general areas of the prescribed routes are better but not so in 1942.

"The run down to Suva, across the southern Pacific, through Torres, through the eastern islands of the NEI and up to the Philippines was not a straight forward routine voyage for anyone. It made for difficult navigation virtually all the way, weaving through a seemingly never-ending maze of islands, cays, reefs and shoals, some of which were not properly charted and without much in the way of navigational aids - very few lighthouses and RDF beacons."

Actually, it was a normal route uto the the eastern isand NEI, as is was the "coastal route Australia to Singapore". There were no recommended routes North of DNG/PNG through NEI waters in US or BA publications, nor would they have had the charts. Even today its not much better as soundings in those regions are likely dating from pre-war and war era work. These NEI routes were described in Dutch in the "Zeilaanwijzingen", much the same a the BA Pilot, but more in a narrative. Im not aware of any BA or US publications concerning the Banda, Halmahera seas. Unless they purchased those in Holland or NEI, minimal stock would be on hand in the early days of the war.

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