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Sea Raptors: Logs of Voyages of Private…
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Sea Raptors: Logs of Voyages of Private Armed Vessels, Comet and Chasseur,…

by Andrew Wahll

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0788443712, Paperback)

Raptors are highly specialized avian predators being extreme aerialists-swift, stealthy, agile, and deadly hunters. On seeing the PBS documentary:  "Raptors: Senses and Influences" I thought the airborne traits of raptors and the hunting techniques of Captain Tom Boyle were similiar in many respects. Many of the PBS attack scene visuals were as I imagined how the vessels "Comet" and "Chasseur" took their prey. On pages 20-21 in his own words Boyle describes the scene on  Feb. 6th 1813: ..."I thought it impudent to make any delay, and ordered Mr. Cathell to make the best of his way through and between St. Johns and St. Thomas as the only possible means of saving the brig from recapture, and in the meanwhile I would with the "Comet" keep close to the man of war brig to divert his attention till he could escape. The brig captured was called the "Dominica Packet" of Liverpool, from Demarara to St. Thomas; loaded with rum, sugar, cotton and coffee, mounting 10 guns; I according hove about and lay by to give the man of war brig an opportunity to approach me which he did to within gun shot; I soon discovered we were very superior in sailing; of course I could perplex him as I pleased, by either approaching or running away from him, as the circumstances required; we kept him in play in this manner till meridian (noon), when I found Mr. Cathell had got through the Passage."
Raptors take advantage of the natural atmospheric flow  and the benefits of updraft. Air currents rising up the sides of a mountain, or over small islands create strong updrafts that raptors or mariners used for speed. As a gust would hit a bird, the bird would use the gust to convert  energy into lift giving increased altitude. The trick for mariners was to fly downwind then to turn quickly into the wind arresting forward movement as the vessel closed with the prey vessel.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:53 -0400)

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