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The same, Perlmutter answered Pitt.I'd forgotten the strange circumstances behind her grounding on Roncador Reef off Venezuela in 1894.

I can't say, said Perlmutter slowly.I only know what I find in recorded sea history. Which isn't to say there are not more reports, untapped by researchers, in archives scattered around the world.

Sounds like the good captain was heavily into the rum locker, Pitt said, jokingly.

The ship that sank the famous Confederate raider Alabama?

When did that occur?

I can't say, said Perlmutter slowly.I only know what I find in recorded sea history. Which isn't to say there are not more reports, untapped by researchers, in archives scattered around the world.

The whaling ship Essex, out of Nantucket, was rammed and sunk by a whale, offered Pitt.

The Hunley was built by private individuals who funded the project, lectured Perlmutter.Actually, she was the third boat built by Horace Hunley and his engineers. Each more advanced than the previous.

Did they comment on the monster's size?

Yes, according to her commander, Captain Leigh Hunt, he was attacked by a man-made underwater vessel that resembled a whale. The vessel was chased, then sank into the water before surfacing again and ramming the Kearsarge, putting a large hole in her hull. She barely made it to Roncador Reef before she grounded. The crew then made camp on the reef until they were rescued.

The same, Perlmutter answered Pitt.I'd forgotten the strange circumstances behind her grounding on Roncador Reef off Venezuela in 1894.

I can't say, said Perlmutter slowly.I only know what I find in recorded sea history. Which isn't to say there are not more reports, untapped by researchers, in archives scattered around the world.

Perlmutter nodded.Yes, the feat didn't happen again until fifty years later, in August of 1914, when the U-21 sank the HMS Pathfinder in the North Sea. The Hunley sat on the bottom buried in silt for a hundred and thirty-six years before she was discovered, raised and placed in a conservation laboratory tank to preserve her for public display. When she was inspected at first hand and the silt and remains of her crew removed from inside, she was found to be far more modern in concept than was supposed. She was quite streamlined, and she had a rudimentary snorkel system with bellows to pump air, ballast tanks with pumps, diving planes and flush rivets to reduce water drag. That last thing, by the way, was a concept that nobody thought had been used before Howard Hughes flushed the rivets on an aircraft he designed in the mid-nineteen-thirties. The Hunley even experimented with electromagnetic engines, but that technology was not ready, so eight men sat inside the submarine and turned a crank that spun the propeller for propulsion. After that, submarine science lagged until John Holland and Simon Lake began experimenting with and building submarines that were accepted by several countries, including us and the Germans. Those early efforts would have looked crude beside Captain Nemo's Nautilus.

When did that occur?

Did they comment on the monster's size?

Perlmutter nodded.Yes, the feat didn't happen again until fifty years later, in August of 1914, when the U-21 sank the HMS Pathfinder in the North Sea. The Hunley sat on the bottom buried in silt for a hundred and thirty-six years before she was discovered, raised and placed in a conservation laboratory tank to preserve her for public display. When she was inspected at first hand and the silt and remains of her crew removed from inside, she was found to be far more modern in concept than was supposed. She was quite streamlined, and she had a rudimentary snorkel system with bellows to pump air, ballast tanks with pumps, diving planes and flush rivets to reduce water drag. That last thing, by the way, was a concept that nobody thought had been used before Howard Hughes flushed the rivets on an aircraft he designed in the mid-nineteen-thirties. The Hunley even experimented with electromagnetic engines, but that technology was not ready, so eight men sat inside the submarine and turned a crank that spun the propeller for propulsion. After that, submarine science lagged until John Holland and Simon Lake began experimenting with and building submarines that were accepted by several countries, including us and the Germans. Those early efforts would have looked crude beside Captain Nemo's Nautilus.

The same, Perlmutter answered Pitt.I'd forgotten the strange circumstances behind her grounding on Roncador Reef off Venezuela in 1894.

Strange? asked Pitt.

Perlmutter ran out of steam and was about to reach for the port bottle again when a look of revelation swept over his face.I just thought of something, he said, raising his great bulk out of his chair with ease. He disappeared down the hall for several minutes before reappearing with a book in one hand.A copy of the board of inquiry minutes concerning the sinking of the U.S. Navy frigate Kearsarge.

Come to think of it, the Kearsarge was not the only vessel reported sunk by an undersea monster.

Perlmutter nodded.Yes, the feat didn't happen again until fifty years later, in August of 1914, when the U-21 sank the HMS Pathfinder in the North Sea. The Hunley sat on the bottom buried in silt for a hundred and thirty-six years before she was discovered, raised and placed in a conservation laboratory tank to preserve her for public display. When she was inspected at first hand and the silt and remains of her crew removed from inside, she was found to be far more modern in concept than was supposed. She was quite streamlined, and she had a rudimentary snorkel system with bellows to pump air, ballast tanks with pumps, diving planes and flush rivets to reduce water drag. That last thing, by the way, was a concept that nobody thought had been used before Howard Hughes flushed the rivets on an aircraft he designed in the mid-nineteen-thirties. The Hunley even experimented with electromagnetic engines, but that technology was not ready, so eight men sat inside the submarine and turned a crank that spun the propeller for propulsion. After that, submarine science lagged until John Holland and Simon Lake began experimenting with and building submarines that were accepted by several countries, including us and the Germans. Those early efforts would have looked crude beside Captain Nemo's Nautilus.

Come to think of it, the Kearsarge was not the only vessel reported sunk by an undersea monster.

The whaling ship Essex, out of Nantucket, was rammed and sunk by a whale, offered Pitt.

Twenty-eight years earlier.

It's odd that such a vessel, if it truly existed, could cruise the world for almost thirty years without its being seen more often, or one of its crew deserting ashore and telling the story. And if it sailed around ramming and sinking ships, how come there were not more survivors to report the incidents?

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