The history of forecasting
Practical Boat Owner|November 2020
The history of forecasting
Margaret Norris charts the incredible role of Robert FitzRoy in the development of the Met Office
Margaret Norris
As sailors we’re used to checking the weather before any journey from the hundreds of weather providers including the Met Office. Give a thought therefore to the ships of the past who set out with incomplete and incorrect charts and no weather information at all and yet managed to circumnavigate the world. Sir Francis Drake took three years to do it in the 1500s and Captain Cook did it three times in the 1700s collecting data and improving charts as they went. But thousands of ships were not so lucky and one of those was the Royal Charter.

In 1859 she’d sailed all the way from Melbourne in Australia with more than 500 people aboard looking forward to seeing British shores again when she was caught in a storm just off Anglesey. In desperation her captain threw out her two anchors to try to steady her in the heavy seas, only for them both to break and the ship to get blown onto the rocky shore. Only 50 people survived.


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November 2020