Nantucket | Davis Shoal 1848

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………….The history of this most dangerous and fatal shoal is startling. Situated in mid-ocean, having in low ebb, scarcely a foot of water; in a region proverbial for it’s heavy swell, rising at times, without a moment’s warning; the dread of all mariners, and the grave of thousands……..                                                                                

                                                                                                      -William Mitchell

 Uncommon, highly significant, and often under-appreciated, this is the first U.S. Coast Survey chart to depict the shoals off Nantucket. Though the unpredictable waters off Nantucket were long a nemesis to sailing vessels on the important London-New York shipping routes, they had never been properly charted. The harsh conditions, including rapid unexpected swells and frequent fog, contrived to make the hydrographic survey of the hazards south of Nantucket one of the most dangerous and challenging projects of the early coast survey. The first survey party to tackle was led by the indomitable Lieutenant Charles H. Davis. Starting at Old South Shoal, a known danger, Davis worked his way southward and soon discovered “New South Shoals” which was later renamed “Davis Shoal” in his honor. Working seasonally, it took the Coast Survey to 1853, fully seven years, to complete the survey of the Old South Shoal and Davis Shoal.

 The outline of the map of Nantucket, appearing in the upper left hand quadrant, is based upon a map of Nantucket prepared by William Mitchell, a Nantucket local and lifelong friend of Bache. The outline of the map of Nantucket would continue to grace the upper left corner of the U.S. Coast survey “Davis Shoal” sheets until the late 1850s

 Report of the Superintendant of the U.S. Coast Survey. (1847 edition)

  • Item #: 00005

Nantucket | Davis Shoal 1848

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