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The English sailed west Before Columbus

 

The Crocker Voyages

to the New World


This novel is about the sailors of Devon, SouthWestern  England, in the era of Columbus, and their voyages to the Americas. It is a likely history. Although most records have been lost in the bombing of England in World War two, it is a matter of historical record that English  fishermen returned to the Americas in the footsteps of their Viking ancestors to fish the Grand Banks of Newfoundland  before Columbus voyages. .

Many voyages of trade and exploration shortly followed to Newfoundland and the New England coast on the heels of these fishermen. 

http://www.heritage.nf.ca/exploration/cabot.html  

http://www.beyondbaccalieu.com/webpages/cabot.html 


My Mothers family, the Crockers, lived in Devon for 1000 years, indeed the histories say than when William the Conqueror came in 1066, they had already been in Devon a long time. Some were small landowners and were distantly related to noble houses through marriage.


See:Http://intlmerch.tripod.com for my astonishing family genealogies .. :)

My book is available on Amazon Kindle for $2

To order my Paperback book, The cost is $10 plus shipping-- which is about $5.50 in the CONTINENTAL    USA. For foreign orders, check the postal rates.  To order,send a check to Lewis Brackett  1674 Palm av,  San Diego, California, USA  92154.

Book Sample Here
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The Crocker Voyages to the New World


Harry kicked the shells on the beach as he walked along. No he thought, really angry. NO! NO! NO! I am not going to be a monk in the Abbey-writing books-looking stupid and never any girls – I just will not do it... So what if I am the youngest and I am supposed to do it – I WILL NOT DO IT. He fumed as he thought about it. So what if I'm a runt. Youngest has to be either a soldier, or a monk, and when I said a soldier they laughed. Even my sister Megan. And I thought she was my friend, Father smiled his know it all smile and said “ you're for the abbey Harry. the oldest inherits our thousands acres of bottom land.” “Damn the custom” I said, and stormed out. “I will be a Viking”. I could hear snickers behind me as I left. I could be a fisherman even anything but a blasted monk! I 'm 12 years old now I could run away and go see uncle Jason. Surely he would understand, Maybe I could even sail to the west of Ireland or even Iceland with the fishing Fleet, anything but the abbey. Yes I like books, but I just couldn't be shut up in one of those awful places where you can't speak above a whisper, must pray kneel stand pray kneel stand, and pray for hours on end, and do what I am told, I won't do it. Not if I die first I won't do it... Harry fussed, fumed, kicked, everything in his path, threw rocks, everything, For hours-until long after dark.

Finally, he walked around the cove, back home. He saw the whale oil lantern set in the window a ways out, beckoning him softly. He paused at the door, then pulled the string that raised the door's bar and entered, His mother was sitting by the fireplace, and she said, “ I've been keeping your supper warm son. Sit down here and I will get it for you.” He sat and ate his biscuit and stew in silence “ Mom, I'm twelve now” “ I know son”, she said “ it’s a difficult age. Soon you will have to work all day and become a man,”

I will run away and go to sea rather than go to that awful place” he said. “ I can't stand them, they give me shivers. I hate them” “Now, son, your father knows best" she said  and they both stared into the dying fire a long time. People laugh, he thought. They always laugh. When I told them I wanted to sail west to Vinland like those in my family that sailed west “Where are they going to find people that are willing to row hundreds of Leagues?” They taunted – “are you going to do it by yourself? You can't barely pull an oar” – so they laughed, Someday I will show them. So what if I'm small for my age.

They say the Vikings were drunkards, that They likely only saw what they wanted to see and lied about the rest, If they had really sailed west they would have fallen off the edge of the world . That branch of the family are liars anyway.”

My grandfather said his grandfather had told him stories of his voyages Harry thought. A wide beautiful land with vast forests, rivers, game, and he grimaced. Many savage peoples, who had finally driven off the later settlers, some of which had then settled in Devon and married into his family.

But the fishing was good there, not like here where you really had to work hard all season to barely feed a family. And the channel being too rough and dangerous to fish at all most of the year, Plymouth is only a small boats day sail the west of the cove...next time I'm there I'll ask around for ships going west.

That determined, he stood awhile watching the great birds wheel and soar in the sky. A thought struck him. Wonder if a ship with great wings could soar upwind as gracefully as a bird. He laughed to himself, I really better keep that thought to myself, people would really look at me strangely if I said that, And the church would have a cow, like it's magic or something. But, he looked up at the birds for a very long time.

As his tutor was patiently droning on and on about the ancient Romans, All of the sudden Harry had a thought. When his tutor Finally stopped to take a sip of ale, Harry said “do you have any pictures of those Roman, Phoenician ships? Could they sail into the wind?”

The tutor froze, looking at him, a little wide eyed than normal “I mean”, Harry, said, “Surely the Great Romans could do that? Couldn’t they?” The tutor frowned, and thought “I do have pictures in a book somewhere” he said,” but how are you going sail upwind boy, when the wind is pushing you downwind? Boy, your task is to listen and learn and recite back. The crown expects all young gentleman to have something between their ears but sand, If you be a good boy and do as you are told, next time I will see if I can find some pictures for you. Now to the Philosophers” …. He droned on.

At suppertime, Harry finally got away from his tutor and walked to the beach. One of his fathers open boats about 20 foot long was drawn up on the beach with some nets spread around it. The boat was used assist the larger vessels to spread and retrieve the long lines or nets. It looked like a Viking Longship, he thought. It generally took three men to row. But it would only take one or two to sail he thought, Now, it did have a mast with a yard and a square sail that could be put up, but what good would that do? And how often could it be used? The wind usually came from the southeast.

The sail could and was used to go out the channel or to bring the boat back from the channel sometimes but that was all, Never both, only downwind. If you hauled that yard around parallel to the center of the boat, you could sail across the wind of you pulled the front edge of the sail down tight, But upwind, no, impossible,

Harry sat on the Gunwale of the boat a long time. Besides he thought, you really can't pull the sail yard around tight because the rigging is in the way. Harry noticed he was going to be –no already late, and so he ran home.

'Your family is among the oldest in the west”, his tutor said.” Fortunately for yours a younger son joined William the Bastard on his 1066 conquest of England and so preserved your lands while all of the other lands lords had their land taken by the Normans. Your mother is the youngest daughter of one of Devon's noble houses. Through her and others you are related very distantly to several Royal dynasties of England, including the present dynasty. That is the why you get an education and why your father wants to send you off to go to school. It will only later be your choice to join the abbey or return here to work for the family business. They might even send you to the Kings Court. A relative was the cup bearer of the king and was at the famous battle of Argen Court in France. Yours is a very minor lord in Devon, but a lord none the less”.

Once again that night, he had that dream of his ship being pulled across the western ocean by the beating wings of large birds.


Two years later, it wasn't quite as bad as he had thought it would be.The monks were stern but nice to him, he found and they did have a lot of books. They said that it was only the Abbeys that had been preserved civilization and their knowledge as the wave of barbarism had overcome the land when the... Romans left 800 years ago – And king Alfred- .

Even though he was 14 now, Harry was still sometimes home sick for the small river making his families cove on the channel. His little rowboat, fishing for the few salmon to still run up the river in the fall. He devoured his books, though, loved them and the world they opened for him.

The monks even taught him Latin so he could read Roman books. Guess they still think I'm going to become a monk, he smiled to himself, as only monks were allowed to learn Latin. Now this is an interesting book, he thought. Very interesting. The pictures showed the heathen Moors Of North Africa and their ships, especially

what is called a Fulucca. The spar and sail were set under the rigging the length of the ship. So that they could easily sail across the wind. And maybe just maybe even upwind. I must write my father about this. It would drive our fishing vessels very well indeed.

Their teacher droned on and on about the church, and the latest papal Bull. Harry smiled to himself, Yes, the church was lots like a bull. Fierce and trampling on one end intolerant of anyone’s opinion but its own and from the other end lots of nonsense he grinned – can't say that aloud about papal bull – even though they are bull He heard voices further down the courtyard. Then they rounded the corner.

Father!” Harry cried out, jumped up and ran out of the class and threw himself into his father's arms, kissing him on his graying bearded cheek.” I have missed you my father” he exclaimed happily. “Yes my son, and I also love you” father said as they embraced. “Now back to your studies, I will see you later.” With that, his father and the monk left him standing there. Harry slowly walked back to his class to the snickers of his classmates and the disapproving glance from his teacher - “ Well, I love my father” Harry said defiantly- “and he loves me-. He had come to pay my fee and to see the Earl who is my mother's brother.” They looked at him at least a little more respectfully. Patiently, the teacher said, “now Harry, young gentlemen, back to the Popes Bull and what it means to us”.

Later, at noon, the teacher said “Harry, your father will see you in the library.” Harry entered the library and saw his father sitting with one of his ship captains. “I will get the book I told your about, father”, Harry quickly searched the shelves and brought it to his father and opened it to the right place. “This sail has been used in the Mediterranean since the time of the Egyptians 2000 years ago, father” he said. “The book talks about the Moorish Pirates, but is does say about how well the vessel sails along the coast. It can even sail to windward somewhat, and has oars, With this type sail rig our ships could even sail to Iceland, Greenland, or even to the New Found Land. Remember the good fishing there that our ancestors talked about? I certainly do want to go there,” His father and the captain looked for a long time at the picture,

Yes Harry, When you come home you can try out this idea on one of my long boats. It just may work. Now, about your studies,” His father talked a while about what the family expected of him. “ You have a good mind Harry” his father said. “Your talent can be a great help to our family. Your brothers are decent fishing and merchant boat captains and your eldest brother is a good farmer, will no doubt well as lord of our estate, But you have a special ability, Harry. We may even send you to London and the Court for the family. This all depends on how well you study”. As his father was leaving, Harry asked “ so you will have a yard and sail made that will fit a small long boat?” 'Yes Harry, I think your idea has merit.” They embraced and his father left to make his respects to their relative the Earl of Devon.

One week till the year end school break as Harry daydreamed out the window, a small leather case bounced off his head. “ Master Harry pay attention”!! the monk thundered. “Numbers determine everything from your personal accounts to figuring the kings tribute to keeping list of ships stores, everything you do.” “Yes teacher,” Harry said and patiently copied his lesson. Even then the back of his mind was on the rigging of his boat. How do I keep it from tipping over. Do I put rocks in the bottom? So much to consider If-when I succeed, I could even be famous. I will be famous. When I come back from the Newfoundlands, I might even be knighted by the king. And so he day dreamed of glory.

As he rode into his village, Harry was anxious to see everyone. Especially to see if father really had made his yard and sail. It had been 4 months – really long months, too, and his mind was anxious to try out his ideas, He reigned in his horse beside his fathers summer cottage as did his 4 man escort. You just could not ride through the countryside by yourself, it would not be safe. His sister Megan came out the side door from the kitchen, threw her arms around him and kissed him on the cheek.

Welcome Home Harry” she said. “People are talking about your boat. I'm on your side despite what people might say”. “Thank you Megan” Harry said. “People in books are people talking to us from vast distances and over long periods of time. So, what is for supper?” Megan made a face “ we have plenty of fish, but little fresh meat just now. Father talks about killing a pig soon, but nothing yet. So supper from the garden and dried fish” “It'll do” Harry said. “A lot of people in the kingdom have a lot less”


Talk nicely to Ethelred our older brother and he might send some pork our way.” She made another face, turned and went back inside. “Ethelred the lord of Crocker Manor” Harry thought. “ As soon as father dies, he

gets the Manor land, so the rest of us get the sea, and our homes and 5 acres at the cove.” “Which is why I need to distinguish myself. Now by doing what every one just ‘knows’ is impossible. “ or the Abbey” he grimaced. “I don't want to do that”

He walked down to the harbor past the boat building yard where two fine new vessels were mostly done. Jarrod my fathers brother seems to be doing all right he thought. Very nice decked boats between 50 and 60 feet. It was said that neighbor Goodall ordered one and Jarrod’s 2nd son was building the other, I'm glad he is doing well too. Next to the boat yard was several acres of fish drying racks along with brine tubs for salting. And around every house over an acre of garden, Down at father's dock, there were two boats, Just over 20 foot long and about 26 feet long. He thought, Wonder which one I will use. Let's see now. In my drawings the yard would go from just behind the bow to the about 4 feet from the stern.

So Harry, you're going to sail one on of these long boats to Newfoundland”a voice from behind him said in fun. He looked behind at his cousin Alex. Harry said “ Not quite that far yet, Alex. Would you like to help me sail around the bay when I get her rigged? There is always the chance we might tip her over and get us wet” Harry said Alex grinned “sure I would like to and when you sail west I want to go with you”. “I would have to talk to my father into letting me have one of his fishing boats” Harry said “ However, we do know there are lots of fish to the east – it would be lots of work as well as fun. We would have to catch a boat load of fish” Harry said “Done” Alex said, and they shook hands.

As he later entered the front door, his mother said “ welcome home son” as she rose from knitting to embrace him. “Your father is out with the fleet, however he did not forget his promise. He should be back later in the week. He said that the yard mast sail ; rigging are at brothers Harold's yard. He suggested you try the smaller boat first and in light wind until you learn how to sail it. Get a couple other boys to help you. Supper will be soon. Megan is making a nice vegetable fish stew”. With that she returned to knitting.

Harry looked out the window, it was almost dark. Guess it will have to wait until tomorrow he thought, daydreaming of future glory the rest of the evening. During the night's sleep he once again had that vivid dream of his ship being pulled across the western sea by the wings of a Great bird.

First thing in the morning Harry ate his breakfast, then went out to Uncle Harold's yard, He could see the workman gathering around their boats for their days work schedule, Harry waited outside the group until they broke up to work. “ Uncle Harold” Harry called after a squat powerfully built man several years younger than his father, Harold turned around , noticed Harry “ Young Harry” he said good naturally.” I’ve come to get the sail, yard mast and rigging my father talked to you about” Harry said. “ Yes lad, your father showed me your drawings, If you succeed it will be a very useful thing”. Harold said “ People have been using that method of coastal sailing for 2000 years in the Mediterranean sea.” Harry said. “The book did not say how it was done, but the author wrote with authority about those Moorish vessels. Even though that person is long dead, he speaks to us from the grave by his book” Uncle Harold looked pensive. “ Besides I keep having this vivid dream about my voyage” Harry said, “ that ship is being pulled to the west by the beating wings of great birds” Harry said as they walked to Uncle Harold's sail shop. “The wings probably represent large sails, I guess”.

Such a voyage would bring reknown to our family, epically using my study of mapping,' Harry said. “Opening up vast now fishing grounds and claiming much new land for England. I have been studying everything I can find out about navigation on the wide ocean'. “ Sounds like you have been learning a lot at the Abbey” Uncle Harold said. He pointed to the far corner, “your mast and yard are standing there with the sail and rigging at the end of the table,” Harold said. “Such voyages will cause people to want lots of new ships built.” Harry replied. “Be good for everyone”.

Uncle Harold nodded. “I know your young Harry that is why I am helping you. And I like you. Don't forget us after you become famous” Uncle Harold said with a grin. “Well, now I have much work to do, be careful, don't get yourself drowned.” With that Harold tuned to his office. As Harry strode back to his fathers dock carrying his mast, he saw that there was already too much wind to take the boat sailing today. And I am going to need help too, he thought. Father is right as usual he smiled. Try it out in light winds first. There was a mast step around 1/4 the way back from the bow, he saw however he had to attach the running and standing rigging before putting up the mast – and he would need help with that too. Well, it wasn't easy attaching the rigging to the mast – Harry smiled to himself. The craftsmen make it look so easy, But then my talent in reading and writing, numbers and literature must seems as difficult to them as practical rigging is to me. But this part is done and done right, Hopefully I can get Alex over today to help. It is almost noon by now, Harry noticed as he saw the shipyards workman leave the yard to walk home for lunch. Alex helps around the fish drying racks, maybe he is on his lunch break too. So, Harry strolled over to Alex Family's cottage.

Harry saw Alex out back eating his bread and cheese, “ Hey, Harry” Alex said, : sit and eat lunch.” “ Thanks Alex, Harry said” I have the rigging set to the mast and need help raising it how about after work this evening”? “ Great” Alex said. “I can bring my younger brother Fred for another pair of hands”, Alex said.” “ Excellent” Harry said. “ This cheese is really good.” Alex nodded. They talked for awhile. Finally Alex had to go back to his work and Harry needed to help in the garden getting in the potatoes and other vegetables. Digging, Digging, Digging – I sure would rather be a fisherman, Harry thought. Also, looks like I'm going to get a few callouses, Megan saw him rubbing his hands and tittered. “Harry you need to do more real work”, she teased. “ Hush woman, he sassed back. so when is your dim witted Viking going to come and marry you?” “When that happens you boys will you have to cook your own stew for lunch” Megan taunted back – “be happy you still have me for now”.She was the only daughter in the family. “Mother makes good bread and stew too” Harry said. “It will be a while before I find someone.“ “How about stout Hilda”? She smirked. “ She would be just right for you” Harry shuddered “ then I would have to go to sea all the time” he said. “ She would be quite a bit much”, “A real battle ax that one”. The both grinned. “ No, I want a real cute squeezable Valkariean” Harry said. “ Once I'm rich and famous, I should have my pick”. She stuck out her tongue at him.

Finally, they got this load of vegetables stored in the root cellar. Later, supper never tasted so good. It was also a good kind of tired. Harry remembered his boat, got up from the table and walked over to Alex’s cottage. “ Alex. 'Alex” he said “ got an hour to rig a boat?” “of course “ Alex said. “Me and Fred will be right there”. A few minutes later the 3 of them trooped down to the pier.”you see, Alex, the mast has to be stepped and then the rigging tied off with those short pieces before being tied to the blocks on the gunwale, If you will mount the mast into the step, Fred can tie off the rigging and I can hold the upper mast from the edge of dock. Tip the boat in my direction”. The other two boys clamored into the boat and Harry picked up and swung the mast over to them, holding it as straight as he could,

Fred pulled down on the rigging on all four sides in turn and they gradually straightened the mast. Finally, it looked fairly close, It was also fairly dark by the time they were done, so Harry thanked them and they left. But he stayed behind, thinking and day dreaming a long while. Finally, his sister Megan came down to he boat. 'Mother's worried about you, it's time to come home” she said. So they left together. And, of course the next day the rain came down and the wind blew. After a while, Harry could see his father's ships under reefed square sail approaching the cove from the southeast. When they were abeam of the cove they expertly hauled the square sails around and managed – just barely – to sail into the cove before rounding up into the wind and dropping anchor. Then they rowed a line to the pier with a skiff and warped the ships to the pier. Soon the pier was full. One of men came to the door, banging on it, When Harry opened it the man panted, saying, “young Harry, your father says put on your oil skins and come and help with the catch.” Harry quickly did as he was told, And unloading took the rest of the day and into the evening, Hard work that made their late supper taste very good indeed, Later, as they sat staring into the fire his father spoke. “ You work well Harry You will always have to do that, I want the best for you, I see you are mounting the long boats mast. The rigging looks good. Just carefully tighten the lower shrouds to he gunwals'. “Yes, father” Harry said. “I have noticed how water boils sideways past ship and rudder when sailing across the wind. I was wondering if a similar board amidships or a deeper keel would help keep a boat from being blown down wind as much” Harry said. His father looked at him interested. “Just might work Harry” he said. “Try it on your long boat. Just because no one has done it doesn’t mean it won't work”. Harry sat there gazing into the fire, happy as a clam at the high tide.

Next day he went over to uncle Harold's ship yard after breakfast to discuss it with his uncle before going to his fathers' ships to help clean and set them up for their next fishing trip. On the way , he waved to Alex, hard at work salting the fish to later be taken to inland towns. Little Fred was there too, Even at nine, his help was necessary when the fishing boats came in. It was an all community all hands project. Even the shipbuilding slowed while the catch was processed for sale.

After a quick lunch, Harry walked down the wharf to his long boat and did some of the standing rigging until the captains called their crews back to work. It was after supper that he and Alex finished the rigging. “We'll cut bait for the ships tomorrow”, Harry said, “then they will leave and I will have time to tie the sail on the yard

and hoist it the first time. The sail does have reef points to lesson its area if the wind comes up.” Harry also told Alex about his keel or keel board to slow a boats downward drift. Alex looked at him with great interest. “Really great idea Harry, you build it, I'll help you sail it and when you become famous maybe some of that will rub off on me too.” They both grinned happily. About three in the afternoon, several fishing boats left including his fathers. They had a wind from the west and so were able to sail across wind out to the old fishing banks where the fish are getting fewer and smaller each year. In four years, they will be ready to fish new grounds to the west, Harry thought, and I will be 18, a man, and will be going with them. Already three of the coves fishing boats were fishing south and west of Ireland. It meant a longer sail and salting the fish on board, but the fish were much larger and better, And they could sail downwind to Devon with their load of fish. In addition, some of the largest boats from Devon were fishing off Iceland. Getting there was often tedious and difficult with the traditional square rig, but with my idea, harry smiled to himself, it will be much easier.

So that evening him, Alex, and Fred put the sail on the fore and aft yard and briefly hoisted it in the strong breeze. It did heel (tip) the boat over quite a bit and the boat pulled at her moorings as a wild horse at a rope. They all had wide grins as they lowered the yard and sail. Three of the men came over from a boat on the other side of the dock. “

Well, young Harry, you ready to sail west?” one of them said with a grin. “not yet, but when I prove this works, every boat in Devon will be using the same sail rig in a short time”, Harry said with a smile “as you could see, the sail can easily be set close to tag wind.” All three were interested in as a prospect. “When will you sail your boat.” the first one asked. “In a morning with a slight breeze at first until I get used to sailing it', Harry Said. “Come down to watch if you are here.” Harry said. They all agreed it would be interesting.

It was a long night. An hour before daybreak Harry rose and saw a faint South breeze. He quickly threw on his clothes, and ran over to Alex's cottage, tapped on his window. Alex climbed out of his window and then ran down to the wharf snickering together.

Once at the wharf, they pushed off the dock and rowed out until the wind was abeam. They raised the sail and she ghosted ahead gracefully in the morning mist. Then Harry pushed the tiller over some and pointed the boat upwind a bit, and the boat sailed upwind, but kept getting pushed downwind one foot for every two foot they went upwind. “We really need that lea board”, Alex said. Harry agreed. “ Look at the pier,” Harry said

over fifty fisherman were watching. “Almost time to turn around” Harry said. They had sailed almost to the river mouth. So, Harry pushed the helm over, and the boom swung over a few seconds later as they ghosted towards the other shore. Back and forth they sailed, gaining ground upwind until it was breakfast. Then they sailed downwind and Harry expertly rounded his boat into the wind alongside the dock.


The men gathered around them as they walked home, back slapping and congratulating them. Even uncle Harold was a the end of the dock, having seen Harry's boat ghosting along. “Now uncle, I need a leaboard” Harry said. 'So I go faster upwind”. His uncle grinned at him. “Yes, and very well done Harry. I know your father will be very pleased. I reckon I will be getting sail orders form the boats soon. And since it's your idea, so I will see that you get a little from each order”. Harry beamed.

Now off to breakfast with you two.” They ran home. Harry burst in “mother, Megan” he ... exclaimed, “it works, it works!” his mother beamed and Megan hugged and kissed him. “Now Harry, you need your breakfast” she said, so he sat down and ate enthusiastically told them all about it between bites.

After breakfast, mother had lots of work for him at the house and more after lunch. Finally, about 3p.m.he was told he could do what he wanted until supper. So Harry took his fathers measuring stick and a bit of line and some paper and ink, and went down to his boat to try to measure what he thought he needed in a “leaboard”. Alex had called it. He was still measuring and sketching when suppertime came. This is going to take a while, he thought. Maybe I can tie one on each side and only use the one on the lea(downwind) side. Maybe-anyway, he day dreamed great exploits all the way home.

And pig tonight. Guess Uncle Ethelred had spared part of a pig for them in trade for some fish. Supper was going to be really good. The wind had shifted so he could smell pork smoking as well as cooking at the hearth. Later, all his expectations were met and he gorged himself and relaxed into a nice stuffed hazy dreams. And always, always, the great birds drawing him Westward.

A few days later, he tied Leeboards to the sides of his boat and it flew upwind to the amazement and a few days later, he tied Leeboards to the sides of his boat and it flew upwind to the amazement and delight of all who

watched. A great achievement, everyone said. He was almost famous. The final night before he was to go back to school at the Abbey, his father brought him before the village council. “Harry”, he said. “We are all so very proud of you. You are truly a Saxon of an Noble House. One Hundred years ago this Saxon blade was carried by my fathers father in his voyages. It is now yours”.

His father gave him the long cherished blade, which was called a “Saxon”, as long as six hand breathes. “Tomorrow you go there to study. In a couple of years we will indeed sail to the West to once again find the new found land of our Great Great Grandfathers”.

No, son, you shouldn't wear your “Saxon” to the Abbey”, his mother said. “The monks would be upset if you brought it with you”. Harry reluctantly agreed. “We will keep it safe here in your father's strong box. You will take your Frank (war hatchet) it should be sufficient and it's also a good tool. Your escort will be here in a few minutes”.

Four horsemen, well armed and armored rode up to their house, their shields on their horses pommels. Harry thrust his frank into his belt, grabbed his bag, hugged and kissed his mother and sister and left for the Abbey school.

I need to know more about map making” Harry told the chief Abbot after his arrival. “My ideas about the Moorish Feluccas were right and we can now sail a ship against the wind West to Newfoundland and Vinland in search of better fishing grounds. It will likely be a couple more years, but we will definitely go. Right now several of the local fishing boats are considering ordering Moorish type yards and sails from my uncle Harold's boat yard”. .The Abbot listened patiently. Then he said, “young Harry, I received a letter from your father, and have considered your course of study for the next few months. We will of course make our library available to you. Now this is your course of study for the next five months until the end of June. You will need all of those things to be a successful merchant or soldier. I am saddened that you have chosen not to join us permanently, as one with your gifts would be a great asset. However, you may be used to reach the Heathen peoples of the West who would go to hell without the church”. With that, The Abbot dismissed him.

This is sure a long list, Harry thought. I wonder if even the best colleges teach half as much. However, I will do my best. And he did algebra, geometry, French, accounting even Roman building methods. I doubt I will meet a French speaking native in Vineland in need of building a Cathedral, Harry thought with a smile. However the nose in the air nobility here still do speak some French, so I guess it's necessary. And the food is fair there too. Maybe the best thing to do with French is to banish all French from England he thought a month later. But I am finding books on the things I want, also, and French is used at court and for that reason I will learn it, and to please my father. Mostly the latter. Harry was displeased by the artistic way maps of the past were drawn. Art at the expense of accuracy really annoyed him. They told navigators very little and left most to the imagination. Most captains navigated by guess and mileage sailed, speed and time = distance, hoping they didn't run aground before seeing where they were going. A sailor ran North or South to the latitude of his destination they turned East or West to his destination, if he left sight of the coast at all. A sudden headwind could and often did drive a ship onshore with a total loss. The problem was how did you find your latitude accurately at sea? One degree error in measuring the North star's latitude put a sailor off by sixty miles, and no one had any idea of how to do it accurately.

The Viking sailed to Iceland then to Greenland then sailed to the Southern tip of Greenland and from there southwest to Newfoundland by sailing South on Vineland. My estimate is about 50 degrees north latitude by Polaris for Newfoundland, which is the same latitude as Devon. The only problem is how do you measure latitude? Maybe by how close to the horizon a major star is. That may be how some of the ancient navigators navigated by how the stars looked. Thing is, the ice moved South from Greenland in the 1340's in the sudden deep freeze climate change. So no one can sail to Greenland anymore. Newfoundland has to be about due West of Devon and at least two thousand miles. A lot of upwind sailing. If you miss Newfoundland, when you make landfall in Vineland you must make a decision to go North or South to Newfoundland. A very big decision. But if you are South and go South there is a lot of coast to survey and map, and once ashore I can use my surveying equipment to determine our latitude. We can always sail to Newfoundland on the way home. I wonder if a small piece of wood held at arms length can measure the angle  a star is above the horizon.  Difficulty is the price of fame, and so it went........................