Saturday, May 23, 2009

Around without instruments:Marvin Creamer celebrates the 25th anniversary of his circumnavigation

Map of the route taken by Globe Star

Globe Star

Heavy weather

and here

Marvin being feted
courtesy Liz Lourie

Marvin Creamer
courtesy Liz Lourie

Marvin explaining 'Transit Meridean' to me
courtesy Liz Lourie

There was a party for Marvin Creamer last Sunday. Celebrating the 25th anniversary of Marvin's amazing circumnavigation without using instruments. No sextant, no compass, certainly no gps. No clock! Only an hourglass for timing watches. Marvin first conceived this adventure during long night watches while cruising, mainly in the Atlantic. He put his ideas into practice on three Atlantic crossings prior to his circumnavigation. A geography professor at what was then Glassboro State College (now Rowan University), the professor worked out the problems such a voyage represented using mathematics  the stars, wave direction, bird life and in the daytime, using an "overhead point and sky geometry". He had read David Lewis'  'We the Navigators', he told me, from cover to cover. Marvin says the real motivation here was not to win glory but rather the intellectual challenge of working out such problems and the satisfaction of having done so. And satisfied he is. At 93, Marvin seems as intellectually sharp as he must have been at the time of his excellent adventure. He's a seemingly inexhaustible source of stories and anecdotes and is adept at explaining his methods to those of us less navigationally gifted.
While these ideas had most certainly been fermenting somewhere in the recesses of the professor's mind, it was chance which really brought them forward. My chronology may be off here, but it went something like this...during a cruise to England and back to NJ, the failure of a compass light gave Marvin the opportunity to use the stars to sail by, and he contemplated what it would be like, what it would feel like, to cruise without the 'toys'. In 1978 he deliberately made a return voyage from Ireland using no instruments and arrived at his destination only 4 miles off his mark. Feeling that his ideas and techniques were thus confirmed, he set off for Pico, off the coast of Africa in 1980. On that voyage he turned back (a little) early due to protestations from crew about 35' seas. The return was made again without instruments and Marvin was able to find both the Cape Verde Islands and Bermuda on the way back to NJ.
He was ready, and shortly after retiring, Creamer, now in his mid 60's, and crew set off from Red Bank Battlefield on December 15, 1982 having received much help in their preparations from local people. Initially sceptical they were undoubtedly won over by Creamers confidence and enthusiasm for his project, which remains unabated today. They returned May 2o, 1984, proving Marvin's theories and having never opened the sealed package of instruments carried on board. The biggest challenge, said Marvin, was how to get 'round Cape Horn in overcast.
You can delve into the solution of that problem, and many others by purchasing a DVD put together by Ralph Harvey, webmaster for the Globestar website.  The DVD includes powerpoint presentations by Ralph, the entire Furled Sails interview w/Marvin, and an unpublished manuscript of Creamer's book The Voyage of the Globe Star. Contact Ralph" here. Marvin says that prospective publishers have declined the project, because there is too little tragedy in the book, and the adventure is primarily an intellectual one. So if anyone is interested, contact me. I'd like to thank Ralph for inviting me to the celebration, giving me the opportunity to meet himself and Marvin and hear his story firsthand and for hosting the website. And of course,I'd like to thank Marvin himself and congratulate him on his marvelous achievement.

I would have posted this story much earlier but for difficulty in posting video on blogger. Ultimately I am unable to do so, always encountering error messages. Any readers who know how to work around these problems, please write me.


doryman said...

I,ve been working on uploading videos today and have been successful at loading directly to blogger with their video icon on the posting screen.
I've also been able to upload a video to Vimeo, then copy the HTML code from Vimeo to the blogger posting screen, similar to loading photos.

Hope this helps


doryman said...

I just listen to the podcast with Marvin and his memory of his exploits are impeccable! What an amazing man and what accomplishments! I am in AWE.