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River Science: Wind Speed

Of all the weather phenomena our students study, the speed and direction of the wind have the most immediate effects on our ship. Not surprising, considered that the Half Moon is a sailing vessel! In 1609, Hudson's progress along the narrow Hudson river was often at the mercy of favorable winds.

We use hand-held anemometers (such as Dominique has here) to accurately measure the wind's speed. As the wind blows through and spins an anemometer's fan, the electronic instrument records the wind's highest and average speeds.

Mouse over to test the wind!
The Amsterdam flag flaps in the wind with lower Manhattan in the background.

On this voyage, we recorded the wind speed on deck as an element of the Deck Log.

When we've studied wind speed in depth for research projects, we often simultaneously compare wind speeds on deck and at the mast tops. Our findings during these experiments indicate that the wind is consistently stronger at higher elevations.

This would have come as no surprise to the shipwrights who constructed the original d'Halve Maen in the early 1600s; after all, top sails are desined specifically to harness those higher, more powerful gusts.

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