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We, the Navigators


David Lewis.

The Ancient Art of Landfinding in the Pacific.


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David Lewis, We, the Navigators: The Ancient Art of Landfinding in the Pacific (Canberra: Australian National University Press, 1972), frontispiece and 63 figures, 13 plates and 6 maps, front and back pastedowns and endpapers with ocean maps, hard cover, pale blue cloth, brown illustration on cover board, brown and gilt titling on spine. Octavo, 24 x 15.8 cm, 345 pp., plus colophon. Foreword; Acknowledgments; Introduction; Text in five sections: The Puzzle, Direction, Compensations and Orientation, Expanded target landfall and position, and The lonely seaways; Appendixes; References; Index. Book review clipping in plain white folded sheet inside back cover.

Condition: Near fine, only slight scuffing to dust jacket at spine extremities and corners.

David Lewis was educated in New Zealand and in a native school on Rarotonga. He graduated in medicine from Leeds University in 1942 and was medical officer with a parachute battalion from 1943-46. Although he continued practising medicine until 1964, he had a life-long interest in the sea and small-boat sailing, making three solo Atlantic crossings. Accompanied by his wife and two small daughters, he sailed in 1964-67 from the UK in a 12.2 metre catamaran across the Atlantic, through the Straits of Magellan and crossed the Pacific back to England. The book’s colophon and jacket note that during this voyage he “experimented in using Ancient Polynesian non-instrumental navigation techniques. In 1968 Dr Lewis was granted a research Fellowship at the Australian National University to visit and sail with indigenous navigators in the Pacific. This journey covered 13,000 miles of the western Pacific, 1,680 of them open sea sailing without instruments under the instruction of Island navigators. His book is largely based on what he discovered on this journey”. David Lewis’s book, resulting from both practical learning and documentary research, makes for compulsive reading.