Home School Life Journal

Home School Life Journal ........... painting by Katie Bergenholtz
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales

Privateers and Spanish Galleons, Week 6: Wind

What makes wind? When air is heated, primarily by the sun, it expands and rises. Cool air rushes in to fill the vacuum left by the rising hot air. This creates wind. You can do an experiment to create your own wind. You will need an empty aquarium,  a bowl of ice, a candle a piece of wax paper, rolled up and a lighter.

 Put a bowl of ice on one side of an empty aquarium and light a candle on the other side as shown. Light a piece of rolled up wax paper to create smoke so that you can see the movement of the air. You can't really see from the picture, but the smoke (air)  will swirl around the aquarium going up at the candle and then going down when it goes to the ice, swirling around in a circle. Of course your wind will be a very light breeze!

Wind patterns proved to be extremely important to the early ocean voyages. Since the ships were powered by wind, navigators had to know where to find the most favorable winds. They soon discovered that they winds tended to remain stable in certain latitudes. The region between 5 degrees north and 5 degrees south of the equator became known as the doldrums, because it was an area of little wind. A ship could become becalmed for weeks at at time. It was an area to be avoided in mid-ocean. If you haven't practiced reading latitude and longitude coordinates, you might want to now before you need to use them for the next phase of the game.
North and south of the doldrums are the trade winds belts. They lie between 5 degrees and 30 degrees latitudes. Navigators were assured of find the most favorable winds for getting to the New World along these latitudes.

Between 30 degrees and 40 degrees is an area that is known for its fair, dry, clear, windless weather. This is known as the horse latitudes because the early Spanish sailors who went to conquer lands brought their hoses to the New World with them. Because they were with them, many of the first ships attempted to make the shortest passage possible to save time. Rather than taking the more favorable trade winds to the south, they sailed directly west into this area. The ships found themselves at the mercy of the windless sea.

 Many lowered their lifeboats and attempted to tow the galleons with rowboats. In an effort to make this job easier, they tried to lighten the ship by killing the horses and throwing them overboard. There were also stories of ghost ships that drifted in this area. Their crews were sometimes found aboard, dead from starvation and thirst. Sometimes the ships had no one aboard as crews took their chances on lifeboats or were rescued by other ships. North  and south of the horse latitudes are the westerly wind zones (coming from the west and blowing strongly to the east). These wind patterns provided the ships with steady winds to get back to Europe.

The Roaring Forties is a name given, especially by sailors, to the latitudes between 40 degrees S and 50 degrees S, so called because of the boisterous and prevailing westerly winds. Because there is less landmass to slow them down, the winds are especially strong in the Southern Hemisphere. The winds were probably first identified by a Dutch East India Company sailor in 1610 as a means to rapidly transit across the Indian Ocean en route to Batavia.
The Furious Fifties is a name given to winds found in the latitudes between 50°S and 60°S—just north of the Southern Ocean close to Antarctica.  The Shrieking Sixties, or Screaming Sixties, are winds found in the latitudes below 60°S—close to Antarctica. Here winds and waters circle the globe between Antarctica and Tierra del Fuego with little obstruction by land, leading to extremes in wind speed and wave height.


Assignments: You can have your older students complete the above wind experiment for your younger, giving them each 5 dots of movement. In addition, your students can complete any activity that remains undone and claim their movement dots for them. In addition, you may assign any appropriate work.

Fates: (for all ships) A tremendous tropical storm is building up  and threatens to turn into a hurricane.  The winds are in a turmoil, changing direction in some areas. If your ship is E of the 60 degrees W longitude line, you have not been affected by the storm. If you are between 60 W and 70 degrees W longitude, the changing wind patterns are beginning to affect you. Roll a 6-sided die and add that amount to your movement. If you are W of the 70 degree W longitude line, you are in the teeth of the storm. You must turn sail and run from the storm to keep from being shipwrecked. Roll a 6-sided die and subtract that amount from your movement. If you have already reached your destination, this fate is not yours.

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