Rare set of sailing instructions

By STEETZ, William, 1825 

Instruction Nautique sur Les Passages a L’Ile de Cuba et au Golfe du Mexique par le Canal de la Providence et le Grand banc de Bahama.

Maritime & Military
  • Author: STEETZ, William
  • Publication place: Paris
  • Publisher: Béchet Ainé, quai des Augustins, No. 47.
  • Publication date: 1825.
  • Physical description: 8vo, half title, title, 59pp., index, two folding charts, brown paper wrappers, title printed to upper cover.
  • Inventory reference: 2382

Notes

Rare set of sailing instructions and two charts for the Providence Channel and the Bahama Bank.

The first chart extends from the east coast of Florida to the Grand Albaco Island, with the second chart depicting the passage between the North coast of Cuba a Key West, what used to be know as the Old Bahama Channel. Both charts contains information on wind direction, currents, magnetic variation, soundings, and shoals; together with the tracks of the sailing routes outline within the text.

It is clear from the text that the directions and the charts were a product of Captain Steetz’s own surveys. He is rather dismissive of the majority of previous surveying of the area, and blames the errors upon the charts of Edmund Blunt — one of the leading American chart publishers — for causing numerous accidents. He does, however, reserve praise for Mr De Mayne a Royal Navy Surveyor, who spent several years in the West Indies, and whose charts Steetz drew from extensively.

The tracks outlined in his work were highly regarded and would continue to be marked upon Depot de la Marine charts for the next thirty years. Alexander Von Houmbolt on page 88 of his work, Personal narrative of travels to the equinoctial regions of the New Continent..’ 1829, references Captain Steetz[‘s]… excellent maps that accompany l’Instruction nautique sur les Passages à l’île de Cuba, 1825, p. 55”.

We are unable to ascertain any further information regarding Captian William Steetz, even though, as the title states, he was awarded the Legion of Honour. It is possible — although unlikely — that he was American, as his name appears as a member of the Washington Lodge No. 21,F. & A.M. (Masons) in 1815 (New York City).

Rare we are only able to trace six institutional copies: British Library; B.N.F.; Hamburg University Library; John Carter Brown; N.Y.P.L.; and the New York Historical Library. 

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