John Paul Jones and the Magic Astrolabe

Jones didn’t do it on his own:

Mark Philipson chose the Revolutionary War hero John Paul Jones as the focus of this conspiracy theory. He established the conspeory that Jones had supernatural help winning a famous naval battle.

The Storm:

Captain John Paul Jones ordered the heavy storm sails struck from the yardarms at four bells. What started out as a stiff breeze in the morning was blowing a full gale by evening.

Jones was taking his fist command — the USS Providence — out of the Bahamas. The sloop carried a load of military supplies captured in a successful raid on Nassau.

As the night wore on, Jones manned the helm, keeping the bow into the howling winds and driving rains. He was glad to be on deck. Jones had been at sea since he was twelve years old. Being trapped below in a storm, feeling mountainous waves toss the ship and hearing the timbers creaking moan, was close to torture.

Captain Jones chose to face the elements.

While running with bare masts, Jones kept working the ship’s course in his head— estimating forward speed and direction while glancing at his pocket watch. Rough calculations put the Providence approximately 50 leagues off course.

The young captain stared at the raging seas lit up by lightning bolts forking through towering thunderheads. In the momentary flashes, he saw a strange rhythm: the ship undulated over the waves, reaching every crest at the right instance, sliding down into the trough, and making a smooth ascent back to the crest.

The captain relaxed the death grip he held on the wooden yokes of the steering wheel. The struggle to fight the rudder back inline with the keel didn’t come. The Providence maintained its weird course.

Jones took a chance. He let go of the helm. The wheel reacted to an unseen force. The ship didn’t need a pilot. For the fist time that day, Jones closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep.

The sound of eight bells woke the captain. Just in time, the first mate was making his way up the ladder. “Captain Jones, I’m here to relieve you,” the mate said.

Jones couldn’t hand the helm over like that. Not when the ship was running under some unknown power. “Thank you, Mr. Lawrence. I’ll keep standing watch.”

“Very well, Captain.” Lawrence walked off the bridge.

Jones was going to stay on the bridge until he could make some sense of all this.

The Shoal:

Jones stayed on the bridge all night. He watched the wind lay down and the rain ease up. By the time the Dog Watch sounded, the captain’s steward brought a bowl of hot stew and hunk of sourdough bread to the bridge. Jones waited for the morning bell to sound. His sailing master would be ready to send the crew aloft and rig up. Jones wondered if a full brace of canvas would bring the ship around.

From high in the crow’s nest atop the main mast, the lookout shouted, “Shoal ahead!”

Jones lifted his megaphone: “How far off the bow?”

“Dead ahead!” Came the answer.

Jones tried a hard turn to starboard. The wheel wouldn’t move one degree off its predetermined course toward the center of the shallow water ahead.

The captain went with another tactic: “Drop anchor!”

The anchor chain rattled as it was pulled down the steel tube and the iron hook splashed through the surface. By now Jones was running toward the bow. He closed his eyes hard then opened them. It was real and not some trick of the light. The anchor played out straight ahead of the bow. A thousand pounds of iron glided through the water like a leaf drifting on the wind.

“What do you make of that, Captain?” Lawrence said as he approached the bow.

Before Jones could say the words I don’t know, his father’s words rang in in his head: A captain always knows what to do, even if he doesn’t. “Prepare the diving bell, Mr. Lawrence.”

A submersible bronze capsule outfitted with rubberized tubing attached to a manually operated bellows had been captured in the raid on Nassau. It was on the cargo manifest when the Providence set sail. While the ship was being loaded, Jones studied every item on the manifest. He understood how the bell worked. “I need a hand to man the underwater device,” he told Lawrence.

A deck hatch was opened and a crane hoisted the diving bell out of the cargo hold.

Jones waited by the bow.

Lawrence returned. “The men refuse to go down in that thing, Captain.”

Jones could see why. By nature, seamen were a superstitious lot. The anchor line straightening out and pointing down to a strange glow on the sea floor only reinforced the inherent fear of the unknown. Another thing his father said came back: Never ask a man to do anything you wouldn’t do.

Jones explained to Lawrence in great detail as to how the bellows needed to be constantly pumped to keep a fresh air bubble inside the capsule. Lawrence put pair of pair of strong men on it.

Jones guided the crane operator to set the bell directly over the anchor line. The bell was lowered while the bellows hissed. The captain stripped down to his underwear and climbed on top. He released his hold and swim into the capsule when the bell submerged.

Lawrence knew what to do: he ordered the crane operator to ease the bell down and made sure the bellows pumped a continuous supply of air.

Inside the bell, the only light illuminating the capsule came from the eerie glow coming off the bottom. As the bell sunk, the glow intensified. Light leaked from the surface of the water and danced on the bronze walls.

The bell hit bottom. The glow was right at his feet. Jones reached down expecting to feel sand. Instead, his hand touched a metal object. The glow faded, revealing the deep blue depths plummeting thousands of fathoms under the bell. Jones swam outside and called for a hoist up.

The crew cheered as the captain came back onboard. Somehow, by riding the bell, Jones reset the wind and current back to normal conditions. Jones wasn’t sure what happened. He did know the circular piece of metal in his clenched fist warmed the palm of his hand.

The captain retired to his cabin. Jones made sure the door was locked. He set the object on the chart table. The captain recognized by the construction that it was a navigational astrolabe. The thing was the size of a pocket watch or handheld compass and the markings barely resembled Egyptian hieroglyphics. If it was a device used for celestial navigation Jones couldn’t see how the small ring could be aimed at the stars or what the engraved pictographs meant.

The Magnetic Eye into the Future:

Captain Jones fed a chain through the loop at the top of the object and hung it around his neck. He spent every spare moment of the return voyage studying the mysterious device, trying to fathom its purpose.

Jones didn’t realize it at the time, but the feeling he got from being near the object — a faint humming in the ears and a slight tingling of the scalp — was a result of magnetic waves radiating from the earth’s core and homing in on the object.

Each second spent near the enchanted metal brought the captain closer to unlocking it’s hidden potential.

In 1779 Captain John Paul Jones took command of the 42 gun frigate USS Bonhomme Richard. At the battle of Flamborough Head, Jones felt the full power of the device.

Jones — now commodore of the Franco-American fleet sent to terrorize British shipping — caught a glimpse of the near future as the battle unfolded. Knowing what would happen next, Jones signaled for his ships to form a single line battle formation. As the object predicted, a French captain disobeyed the order and executed a sailing maneuver that left the Royal Navy flagship Serapis alone to face the rest of the American fleet.

As the two warships closed, Jones looked into the time ahead and chose not to fire six refurbished hand cannons. A look ahead showed the old bronze bores coming apart and killing the gun crews. In the initial exchange, the Bonhomme Richard — a refitted merchant ship — took a pounding from the agile frigate Serapis. Jones glanced forward and saw his only chance was taking the fight to the enemy. The quick thinking British captain caught on to the tactic. The Serapis remained out of boarding reach while continuing to blast away at its slower opponent.

Jones saw the cannon ball splintering the hull of his ship below the waterline before it left the bore of the British gun. This was it. The turning point was going to take place soon. The two ships rigging became entangled. Jones ordered his crew to lash the ships together. The captain of the Serapis dropped anchor, hoping his halting ship would tear free from the still moving Bonhomme Richard.

The tactic didn’t work. The maneuver caused the Bonhomme Richard to rotate until the ships faced each other with cannons touching each other’s side planks.

Commodore Jones knew what came next. He closed his eyes as the present caught up with the future. A full broadside from the Serapis fired at point blank range ripped away massive sections of the Bonhomme Richard’s hull. By now, the Marine sharpshooters had climbed into the rigging. It was only a matter of time before deadly rifle fire cleared the deck of the enemy ship. Jones saw the sailor crawling out on the yardarm. He watched a shadow of the man inch forward. A second before the the Serapis’ magazine exploded Jones saw the sailor toss a smoking grenade into an open hatch.

The captain of the Serapis struck the colors. In the end, the Bonhomme Richard was so badly damaged it had to be abandoned.

John Paul Jones went on to become an admiral and retained his position up until his death in 1792.

By zerppzee

On the next phase.

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