The 3rd Adventure Club Podcast: On Compasses & Timetables

This week we talk about Day 3 of the adventure – September 25. We discuss the need for a prismatic compass (2:03), and get frighteningly immersed in the world of Edwardian train and steamer timetables (10:20). Also featured: how to revive your old oilskins (20:46), the true location of ‘The Stores’ (24:52), the Kaiser’s shotgun cartridges of choice (27:14), other spy writers with maritime connections (28:01), and valuable corrections and clarifications from among others… Erskine Childers (30:02)!

Yes, we have gone on about this prismatic compass quite a lot already, but Childers does place a lot of emphasis on it in the opening chapters of the book, and we have now found someone who really knows their stuff (a separate post on this coming soon).

Talking of people who know their stuff, you’ll be amazed how much Lloyd can say about Edwardian timetables. Impressively, he does prove that Childers had done his homework – although there is a question mark over whether Carruthers is operating on local Continental time or GMT. Do you know what the time difference would have been between Flensburg and London in 1898? Let us know. And if you haven’t already, sign up here to become an Adventure Club member.

A Bradshaws and a prismatic compass. Essential items for Adventure Club members. (Thanks to Paul Crespel for the compass photo)

Missions for next week – members assistance required.

1. Flensburg. In particular we’re looking for a carpenter in or near Flensburg. If you’ve ever been there, or know any interesting facts about the place, get in touch. And does anyone know why Childers bothers to start the adventure here, rather than anywhere else?

2. Flat-bottomed boats. The Dulcibella makes her first appearance on September 26 and her interior in particular is nicely described. Has anyone out there got a Dulcibella-like boat and/or photos of the cabin(s) they’d like to share with us – so we can get some sense of the space (or lack of it) we might have to endure on the adventure proper?

3. Portmanteaus. Suitcases have changed a lot since 1898. And where’s a porter to carry your portmanteau when you need one? We need one of a particular size. Do you own one or know where we can acquire one? (Tim would also like to get hold of a “snowy crowned yachting cap” to put in it.)

4. Grog. What is it? How do you make it? And how much should we try to drink during the next podcast?

3 thoughts on “The 3rd Adventure Club Podcast: On Compasses & Timetables

  1. Hi!

    I looked on the site but didn’t see an email address listed. Do you have a preferred one to use?


    Also, in addition to grog, I think you should consider having some beer fished out of bilge water during the next podcast.


  2. The “prismatic Compass” IS an important aid to navigating. Modern sailors would call it a “Hand Bearing Compass” and it comes in very handy for finding the bearing to an object glimpsed from the boat. If you see a lighthouse ten miles away, and you point this compass at it, it provides the BEARING of the lighthouse from your location. On the sea chart, you can draw a line on the same bearing from the lighthouse marked on the chart, and you KNOW your boat is somewhere on that line. Now take a bearing on some other object that you can see and is marked on the chart and draw another line. Where the two lines cross is WHERE YOU ARE EXACTLY.


    1. Frank – Having weighed up all the comments we’ve had about this, I’m now steering away from thinking that the compass is useless at sea and is an obvious clue that there’s some spying (on land) ahead in this story.

      The presence of the compass, though, is a sign for Carruthers (and the readers) that this trip isn’t going to be a leisurely Cowes-like cruise on a luxury yacht. If you’re using the compass, it means you’re going out and about a bit more than perhaps Carruthers initially would like! Essentially, the compass is the first sign that Davies has a plan beyond duck shooting in the Baltic, no?


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