Sailors! Tell me about CSN's Southern Cross

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by Gas-man, Oct 7, 2008.

  1. Gas-man

    Gas-man Unrepentant Massaganist

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    I know that the Southern Cross is a constellation and the song has a lot of sailing references but help me understand them.

    The Marquesas? A place, yes, but where?

    Papate?

    Is it a certain route that he's talking about? And what do you do on a midnight watch?

    I've always been wondering about this and I heard the song the other day.
     
  2. DiazDude

    DiazDude Member

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  3. gdomeier

    gdomeier Supporting Member

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    Does your city or one near you have a planetarium? Mine does. I went there for a public even this past winter. It has a state of the art setup that shows any and all views of the night sky. They easily showed the display from the southern hemisphere. The southern cross was very cool. Much cheaper than a trip way down south :)

    At the end, they simulated the light pollution from our local city lights. Ugh...
     
  4. Gas-man

    Gas-man Unrepentant Massaganist

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    The astronomy is explained there, but not the sailing stuff--what route he was on, etc.
     
  5. Joe Robinson

    Joe Robinson Gold Supporting Member

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    Papeete is the capital of French Polynesia and it is located on the island of Tahiti. Go to Hawaii, head due south. Cross the Equator. It's a bit after that.

    Marquesas are an island chain in the same general area. Somewhat north and east of the French Polynesia group of Islands.

    I believe a "downhill run" refers to sailing in a southerly direction, which one would be if they are heading to Papeete (Pop-eee-ay-tay) from the North.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2008
  6. fullerplast

    fullerplast Senior Member

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    A downhill run is going with the wind, i.e. sailing downwind. Most of the popular cruising routes follow the tradewinds because that is the least stressful point of sail and gets you there quickest. It's about a 3-4 week sail from Avalon (Catalina) to the Marquesas and lots of time to contemplate life and relationships, especially on a night watch. Most cruisers rotate on about a 4 hour watch, depending on crew and conditions but the overnight watch is often just you alone at the wheel....and of course the Southern Cross.;)
     
  7. BugSlayer

    BugSlayer Gold Supporting Member

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    A downhill run is going with the wind, i.e. sailing downwind.


    I am not an open water sailor but I have crewed some races on the Chesapeake Bay and when I hear the term 'Downhill Run', I agree that it is sailing with the wind to your stern. Set the sails and kick back. No tacking or jibbing, just catch waves and surf your way there! A very agreeable way to travel!
     
  8. sausagefingers

    sausagefingers Supporting Member

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    Got out of town on a boat
    Goin' to Southern islands.
    Sailing a reach
    Before a followin' sea.
    She was makin' for the trades
    On the outside,
    And the downhill run
    To Papeete.
    Off the wind on this heading
    Lie the Marquesas.
    We got eighty feet of the waterline.
    Nicely making way.
    In a noisy bar in Avalon
    I tried to call you.
    But on a midnight watch I realized
    Why twice you ran away.

    From sailing camp days 20+ years ago, a reach is sailing at right angles to the wind. Making way is sailor-speak for 'moving'.

    If you read the Patrick O'Brian 'Master and Commander' books you'll pick up a lot of this stuff.
     
  9. Gas-man

    Gas-man Unrepentant Massaganist

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    Thanks. Just the info I was looking for.

    Great song.

    One piece of trivia: Crosby did not play on this song at all. It was during his free-base period. Timothy B Schmit (sp) sang background vokes.
     
  10. StompBoxBlues

    StompBoxBlues Member

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    Just a tidbit...I believe the southern cross is the only directional equivalent of the north star you can see in the southern hemisphere (the north star is not visible). Unlike the north star (polar star) the southern cross doesn't remain stationary in the sky, but the cool thing...

    It rotates as it moves across the sky (I know...IT doesn't move, we do..but just using the normal way we say it) so that when it is facing south the cross is upright. It starts out (east) on its one side, slowly rights itself and is upright when pointing south...not sure if it is completely due south, and then starts tilting on the other side.

    I didn't make this up, but may have gotten some of it wrong. It is from memory and hearsay.
     
  11. fullerplast

    fullerplast Senior Member

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    Just saw Crosby and Nash last night. Encore was Wooden Ships, another great sailing song....even has another downwind reference: "wind blowing warm out of the south over my shoulder, think I'll set a course and go".:AOK
     
  12. Cowboy

    Cowboy Member

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    Thanks, you collective bunch of nautical TGPers!

    I'm sitting here in my office, between students, looking out the window - dreaming of sailing to Tahiti... :knitting

    I was just on my bass player's 43 foot Beneteau, talking about that very trip. Nice stress break... :dude

    Cowboy
     
  13. Joe Robinson

    Joe Robinson Gold Supporting Member

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    Thanks for the clarification. I'm not a sailor. But I did work at a large cruise line for several years. The old Brit capitans used to say downhill when they were talking about heading south, but your explanation makes much more sense.
     
  14. joseph

    joseph Member

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    We got eighty feet of the waterline.
    Nicely making way.

    I suspect the royalties from Suite Judy Blue Eyes paid for it ;).

    The dude currently lives on an estate in Hawaii.

    oh well, back to work .... to fund the bailout for the other guys with yachts, our banker friends...
     
  15. jefesq

    jefesq Gold Supporting Member

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    Eighty feet of waterline = longer boat
     
  16. angus99

    angus99 Member

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    and, all things being equal, a faster boat. waterline length is big part of theoretical hull speed.

    angus
     
  17. FirstBassman

    FirstBassman Member

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    Co-written with Paul Kantner, whose name was left off of the CS&N album credits because of legal hassles with the Airplane's former manager.
     
  18. hellbender

    hellbender Member

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    The term following sea is an ocean swell direction at your stern, the easiest way to go.
     
  19. Flyin' Brian

    Flyin' Brian Member

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    I know zip about sailing, but it's amazing how much of this stuff ties to flying. Cool thread.
     
  20. fullerplast

    fullerplast Senior Member

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    Sure, keels and sails are just like wings turned on edge and travelling through two different mediums simultaneously. Lift and drag have similar analogies. Navigation and wind/current vectors have pretty direct correlations though. :cool:
     
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