Wednesday, February 18, 2009

An OH, DUH! Moment in the New World

Last weekend we took a tour of a life-size replica of The Niña, the smallest of Columbus’s three ships that sailed in 1492. The replica was completed in 1992, in time for a 500 year celebration. During the course of the tour, a question from another visitor revealed an interesting fact: Hammocks were a New World discovery.

Consider this. At the time these ships originally sailed, about 27 sailors slept on the upper decks of the crowded ship. Four or five officers claimed the upper deck, which was much dryer since it was higher above sea level. The rest of the crew tried to find a dry spot on the main deck, which was constantly soaked. They fought for a coil of rope or other equipment to sleep on.


Down below in the hold they kept equipment and food supplies, including livestock. The larger animals (horses and cows) were held aloft in slings, to prevent their legs from breaking due to the pitching of the ship. There were also nets on board for fishing in shallower waters.


So here’s where I found the hammock fact so fascinating - wouldn’t you think at some point in their journey someone could have put two and two together? C’mon, necessity is the mother of invention, right? (I like to think laziness is the father. Just consider the remote control…but I’m getting sidetracked.) On board they had: 1.Soggy decks. 2. Animals suspended in slings. 3. Nets.


Really, how big a stretch could it be to come up with a better sleeping arrangement?


I’ll bet the sailors felt pretty silly when they arrived at this new world and found natives sleeping high and dry above ground. In nets. D’oh! The story goes that Columbus returned to Spain with a boatload of those newfangled sleeping nets.


It kind of makes me wonder what other solutions are right there in front of our noses…and we just don’t see them.

20 comments:

Kim Kasch said...

I know what you mean. Sometimes someone says "why don't you..." and I think, "Why didn't I think of that?"

I saw the Nina in Portland - I think last summer during Rose Festival. It's amazing to think that went across the ocean. Yikes! Those men were daredevils.

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Awesome!
You're right! I wonder what else is so obvious...
I know. Hammocks as an upcoming wonder of the world!
Thanks!

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

The reason they never figured that out is because there were no women on board!

PJ Hoover said...

So well put! And they said "Why didn't I think of that?"
Can you imagine traveling like that? Ugh!

Carrie Harris said...

I keep picturing these poor puzzled, hammock-trapped cows. I don't know why I'm so stuck on that image, but I am.

Having said that, great post. :)

Mmm said...

I just looked at your artwork. You are incredibly talented. Love the colours. Wow. Kudos to you! I think i may have seen your art in some books before.

adrienne said...

Kim - I know, and they couldn't even swim! Not that that would have helped if they went overboard, but still...

Becky - Oh, I'd love to see a hammock post! That is, a post about hammocks, not the post it hangs from :)

Green Girl - Hee-hee.

PJ - I can't imagine it. The thought of the smell alone makes me sea-sick %P

Carrie - I know, that is a pitiful image :(
It sounds as if life for the humans was only slightly better.

Mmm - Thank you! I don't have any published children's art (yet), but the fact that it calls to mind some published work is very encouraging.

Kelly said...

That was interesting! My husband LOVES our hammock.
I was checking out your artwork,too. You are so talented!

Paris said...

How interesting and you are so right!! :)

Hope you are having a good week.

*husg*

Bish Denham said...

Hammocks are a gift (well maybe it was stolen as so many things were) from the Caribs (war-like)and Taino (peaceful)Indians who lived through-out the Caribbean chain when Columbus came through.

The reason he and his crew hadn't thought up the idea is because (duh!) they were Europeans who thought they knew everything!

Keri Mikulski said...

Interesting.. ;)

I agree with Green Girl in Wisconsin. :)

Rena said...

Interesting stuff, Adrienne!

Mary Witzl said...

That ıs ınteresting, and like Carrie, I hate to think about the terror and misery of the animals kept in slings. And, of course, the poor sailors, though at least most of them chose to take that trip.

It is odd how some of the most obvious things elude us -- things that should be hitting us over the head with their simplicity and natural practicality. I keep thinking we might even discover a better way to replace fossil or nuclear fuels -- something obvious that won't make only a handful of people filthy rich...

Suzie said...

So true. I had a time where my dog kept eating the cats poop. I tried everything sprinkling it with msg mustard powder. Finally I realized put it up high cats can climb dogs can not. Duh.

adrienne said...

Kelly - Oh, I wish we had room for a hammock! But I'd just nap in it all day, so maybe it's better we don't :)

Bish - Interesting facts, and I think you're on to something...too much hubris would cloud your vision.

Mary - It's possible a few filthy rich people have the ability to squelch innovation, too...

Suzie - Perfect example, and hilarious!

Anne Spollen said...

Smack on the head history! I dunno, it kind of makes me feel better that they did dumb stuff, too. Like it's not my fault that I don't always think of the perfect solution because my ancestors were, you know, human. ; )

Linda Crispell said...

It's amazing that they ever discovered the New World.

adrienne said...

Anne - Great point! Next time I find myself muttering, "There's got to be a better way" I'll try to console myself with that thought...

Linda - Ha! And it had to be an accident.

LW said...

I can’t tell you how many times I have said I should of thought of that…..
Duh…

Louise

adrienne said...

Louise - Haven't we all! :)