Nautical Supplement.


Barnacles. Before human sailors conquered the water, ancient barnacles had to build their own boats.

Bermuda Triangle. The so-called “Bermuda Triangle” is more accurately described as a heptagon.

Drake. Although today we regard Sir Francis Drake’s circumnavigation of the world as a remarkable feat, Queen Elizabeth I was unimpressed, saying that he had merely ended up back where he had started.

Panama Canal. Theodore Roosevelt’s dream of a trans-Panamanian turnpike was shattered when a catastrophic error in engineering flooded the whole roadbed.

Vikings. Medieval lore had it that the Vikings could sail into the wind—a reputation that added much to the dread and consternation of their enemies. In reality, it was a simple optical illusion, which the Vikings created by affixing a figurehead to the stern of each ship.