Thursday, December 26, 2013

Tours and Educational Materials will be created during 2014

 In commemoration of the 100th anniversary 

of Sir Ernest Shackleton's attempt of the first crossing of the Antarctic continent,

 from sea to sea via the Pole 


Click HERE for Google Earth Tour of PREFACE

Sunday, November 24, 2013

3-D Tall Ships
Google Earth

Click for Google Earth Tour

"(These Ships) are far more than quaint relics of a bygone era. They embody the noblest aspirations of a people.
They speak not only of what is past, but to what endures; ingenuity, intrepidity and the insatiable appetite for freedom and a better life in a better world."
~Honorable Christopher Dodd
United States Senator

Notwithstanding all that has been said about the beauty of a ship under full sail, there are very few who have ever seen a ship, literally, under all her sail. A ship coming in or going out of port, with her ordinary sails, and perhaps two or three studding-sails , is commonly said to be under full sail; but a ship never has all her sail upon her, except when she has a light, steady breeze, very nearly, but not quite, dead aft, and so regular that it can be trusted, and is likely to last for some time. Then, with all her sails, light and heavy, and studding-sails, on each side, alow and aloft, she is the most glorious moving object in the world. Such a sight very few, even some who have been at sea a good deal, have ever beheld; for from the deck of your own vessel you cannot see her, as you would a separate object.

One night, while we were in these tropics, I went out to the end of the flying-jib-boom upon some duty, and, having finished it, turned round, and lay over the boom for a long time, admiring the beauty of the sight before me. Being so far out from the deck, I could look at the ship as at a separate vessel; and there rose up from the water, supported only by the small black hull, a pyramid of canvas, spreading out far beyond the hull, and towering up almost, as it seemed in the indistinct night air, to the clouds. The sea was as still as an inland lake; the light trade-wind was gently and steadily breathing from astern; the dark blue sky was studded with the tropical stars; there was no sound but the rippling of the water under the stem; and the sails were spread out, wide and high,— the two lower studding-sails stretching on each side far beyond the deck; the topmast studding-sails like wings to the topsails; the top-gallant studding-sails spreading fearlessly out above them; still higher, the two royal studding-sails, looking like two kites flying from the same string; and, highest of all, the little skysail, the apex of the pyramid, seeming actually to touch the stars, and to be out of reach of human hand. So quiet, too, was the sea, and so steady the breeze, that if these sails had been sculptured marble they could not have been more motionless. Not a ripple upon the surface of the canvas; not even a quivering of the extreme edges of the sail, so perfectly were they distended by the breeze. I was so lost in the sight that I forgot the presence of the man who came out with me, until he said (for he, too, rough old man-of-war-man as he was, had been gazing at the show), half to himself, still looking at the marble sails,— ``How quietly they do their work!''

Richard Henry Dana Jr.
Two Years Before the Mast

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Verse that will have you feeling no worse

and perhaps 

a Google Earth Tour


 uncommonly good to the core

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Go on a North Atlantic Cultural and Scientific 

Seascape Escape 


Winslow Homer

Winslow Homer by Sarony.jpeg

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


The Voyage of the Beagle 

like never before 




Charles Darwin in Street View 


Monday, September 9, 2013

Attention: Robert Louis Stevenson Community

Once you're done Googling through the South Seas with RLS

Read Chapter XII of Sailing Alone Around the World

You'll be charmed as Captain Slocum and Mrs. Stevenson stroll down Main Street Apia with Mr. and Mrs. Osbourne bicycling alongside.

Fanny Osbourne 1.png
Don't miss the colour of their Gloucester Dory

Monday, September 2, 2013

Experience 19th Century New Zealand 

in Charles Darwin's

The Voyage of the BeagleChapter 18

See the Village of Pahia
 Mission station, Paihia

Three quarter length portrait of Darwin aged about 30, with straight brown hair receding from his high forehead and long side-whiskers, smiling quietly, in wide lapelled jacket, waistcoat and high collar with cravat.

Visit a Pa

Stroll around Kororadika
‘Kororadika Beach, Bay of Islands’, 1838

Learn about the geology of "Waiomio"

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Officers aboard the Monitor

Meet the Monitor Boys


travel back in time



Battle of Hampton Roads

The Monitor and Merrimac.jpg

See how ironclad ships changed naval history

Read primary sources from the sailors 

Use Google Earth imagery and locate the Monitor

Friday, August 9, 2013

Read The Voyage of the Beagle - Chapter X


Escape the Dog Days of summer with Charles Darwin

Get to know Jemmy Button

as you

Sail through the Le Maire Strait to Tierra del Fuego

Find out what Yammerschooner means

Experience a Williwaw

Even use the Beaufort scale and Imagery to determine wind speed and direction.

Monday, May 27, 2013






File:Autumn--On the Hudson River-1860-Jasper Francis Cropsey.jpg

Wednesday, May 15, 2013



The Cruise of the Snark
Go on a Google Earth Tour of Chapter VI - A Royal Sport

Learn about the history of surfing

Who was Duke Kanahamoku?

Learn about wave formation

Find out about Alexander Hume Ford

Try a physics of surfing problem (reference table included)

Don't forget the sunscreen!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Sail the Book is pleased to present

Charles Darwin's The Voyage of the Beagle

Now completely available in Google Earth Tours

Experience the almost five year adventure as told by young Charles Darwin

 Read and see exotic lands

 Learn about the 19th century survey expedition under the command of Captain Robert FitzRoy, R.N.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Read the Voyage of the Beagle


Google Earth tours 


You won't believe what Charles Darwin finds at Punta Alta. 

Three quarter length portrait of Darwin aged about 30, with straight brown hair receding from his high forehead and long side-whiskers, smiling quietly, in wide lapelled jacket, waistcoat and high collar with cravat.

Discover what marine mammals surround the brig Pilgrim near Cape Horn!

Can Joshua Slocum give Moorish pirates the slip?

Join the London's as they stroll down Honolulu's Avenue of Royal Palms. 

Follow Robert Louis Stevenson's account of depopulation of the South Seas.

 Please check back often for news.

Friday, January 18, 2013

While you have been testing...

I have been playing some more with google earth. My work at the Norwegian Hydrographic Service makes me a privileged person: this is as close as I can get to my childhood dream of becoming an astronaut (apart from diving of course). Modern technology makes it possible to make amazingly detailed images of the seafloor. Here is an example of Kongsfjorden, Spitsbergen. If you want play around with it yourself you can download the KML here. (tip: switch off "Water surface", you can find it under "View").

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Beagle goes Beta

Finally we have a presentable version we can use to test. We'll use the first chapter of the "Voyage of the Beagle" by Darwin. Click here to participate and download the KML. Mail your comments here.
Thanks for testing :-)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Why the Beagle?

There are certainly easier travel books with which to begin a project. "The Voyage of the Beagle" reveals Charles Darwin as an energetic young man, full of wonder and willing to take chances. He writes of the injustices of slavery and gives first hand accounts of the genocide of indigenous people. Darwin's geologic theories on island formation and crustal uplift are remarkable considering that the plate tectonic theory was proposed more than one hundred years after his publication. Many people associate Charles Darwin with a specific place - The Galapagos Islands. For the longest time I dreamed of some day visiting these "enchanted islands." Of seeing the marine iguana or diving with sea lions.
So you see another reason for starting with the Beagle. The Galapagos Islands are a cool place. Last March I had this big idea. Simply put - I want people to read great books. In my marine science class I have used Google Earth to entice students to read. For some students this method of reading simply becomes a treasure hunt for others it sparks an interest in oceanography or marine biology. But for most the experience of watching videos, reading about related topics and viewing satellite imagery results in greater retention of details. When former marine science students are in study hall or physics class the following year, I ask them questions about Joshua Slocum's "Sailing Alone Around the World" and they are able to recall details that I included in Google Earth activities. That encourages me to continue teaching with maritime literature. The big idea was to choose classic maritime books and make a website and have other teachers try this method and give fed back and improve the way the content is delivered. In order to do this I reached out to my friend Boele. Last March I called him and explained the idea. Much to my relief he didn't hesitate and thought it would be a great project. Boele brings to this project his creativity and technical ability. In this website Boele will give technical updates. I will post on matters relating to the activities and books selected.

Fusion tables

Ira reads the books and carefully finds relevant coordinates to retell the author's story in a multidisciplinary way. He includes images and activities for each location. The activities include: videos, music, art, history and remote sensing. Many locations employ the richness of the Google Earth layers. The intent is for the user not only to read classic maritime literature but to become enriched about additional topics along the way. The chapter tours act as a thread connecting the story to content that technology has made available in the past decade. In order to keep track of all this material in a structured way, you need tools, preferably with spatial awareness.
The best known tool available is the Spreadsheet Mapper. It has come quite a long way and is currently available in a rather robust 2.0 version. It's very versatile but unfortunately tends to become unstable with large amounts of data and many edits. So the Beagle with 315 locations and an ever increasing amount of activities per point was a challenge.
In the past year Google Fusion Tables (a beta on Google Drive), has matured enough to be a valid alternative. Users can easily collaborate when handling large amounts of data. Also FME (see earlier post) can connect to it. We therefore migrated to Fusion tables and have not looked back. Fusion tables are spatially aware and generate KML files. So here is a KML of Charles Darwin's "The Voyage of the Beagle" as Fusion tables generates it:

click here for a large map

This KML is used as input for FME to generate more fine-tuned KML and tours. We will publish a beta this week of the first chapter of "The voyage of the Beagle", so stay tuned....