One trains one’s imagination to go visiting.
One of my favorite Youtube channels is Wind Hippie Sailing. The Wind Hippie is a free spirit who does not worry about little details like currents and wind – this is the charm of her channel. While sailing from North Carolina to Puerto Rico, she soon learned the power of the Gulf Stream when she discovered that she was making very slow (maybe negative) progress. Fortunately, she was able to get out of that situation. I was worried she might end up somewhere dangerous, like a reef.
Her predicament reminded me of a story that Sister Mary Agnes told our fifth-grade class about Ben Franklin (Figure 1). She told us that Ben was the first person to publish a chart of the Gulf Stream. Ben’s Gulf Stream story began during a visit to England where he heard tales of ships taking much longer to cross from the UK to the US than from the US to the UK. He became curious and upon his return to the US contacted a US whaling captain, Timothy Folger, who was also his distant cousin. Whalers were famous for collecting all sorts of ocean data. Captain Folger confirmed what Ben had heard in England and told Ben what the whalers knew about the Atlantic currents. He showed Ben the path of the current and even how to avoid it. Ben and Captain Folger put together a chart that Ben sent to a contact in England, who then printed it.
I remember as a young boy being impressed by Ben’s curiosity and approach – I still am. For those who want to know more about the Franklin-Folger chart of the Gulf stream, check out this document.