Gower : Treatise on the theory and practice of seamanship


Gower, Richard Hall, 1767-1833.

A treatise on the theory and practice of seamanship: containing general rules for manœuvring vessels, with a moveable figure of a ship, so planned that the sails, rudder, and hull may be made to perform the manœuvres according to the rule laid down. To the above is added a miscellaneous chapter on the various contrivances against accidents, and a system of naval signals, the whole forming a useful compendium to the officer, to instruct him when young, and to remind him when old

London: Printed for G.G. and J. Robinson, 1796.

Captain Richard Hall Gower was an English mariner, empirical philosopher, nautical inventor, entrepreneur, and humanitarian. In 1780 Gower joined the British East India Company as a midshipman in the vessel Essex. When he returned to England after his first three year voyage, he studied navigation at Edmonton. Gower rose to chief mate of the Essex and eventually qualified as a captain.

In 1787 he devised an instrument which measured a vessel's way through the water with greater accuracy than had previously been possible. Gower next turned his attention to the design and construction of ships, and eventually left the service altogether in order to devote himself fully to this work. In 1800 the Transit, a ship intended for the packet service, was built to his designs at Itchenor, Sussex: she was four-masted, with sails designed for easy handling. She beat the government sloop Osprey out of all comparison in a trial of speed; but, greatly to Gower's disappointment, the East India Company did not purchase her, although she later proved a successful trading ship and attracted the attention of the Admiralty and private yachtsmen. In 1793 Gower published A Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Seamanship.

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