Carry On, Mr. Bowditch -Reader’s Guide

“Readers today are still fascinated by Carry On, Mr. Bowditch; an eighteenth-century nautical wonder and mathematical wizard. Nathaniel Bowditch grew up in a sailor and world traveler; Salem in the early days, when tall-masted ships from foreign ports crowded the wharves. But Nat didn’t promise to have the makings of a sailor; he was too physically small. Nat may have been slight of build, but no one guessed that he had the persistence and determination to master sea navigation in the days when men sailed only by logs, leads, and lookouts; Nat’s long hours of study and observation, collected in his famous work, The American Practical Navigator stunned the sailing community and made him a New England hero” (Amazon summary).

Carry On, Mr. Bowditch -Reader's Guide
Click on image. Carry On, Mr. Bowditch is an phenomenal teaching tool encompassing math, history, social studies, English, arts and self-directed learning principles.

Chapter 1: The Good-Luck Spell

  • How accurate are the sketches and drawings in this book?
  • What is a good luck spell?
  • What impresses you most in this picture (p4)?
  • Why would they fetch a fire instead of creating their own fire (p7)?
  • Does a separation of male and female chores exist today? What about male and female roles?
  • Describe a nor’easter.

Chapter 2: The Privateers

  • How does war change rules of peace time?
  • If you had an unlimited amount of money, what would you do?
  • How do expectations compare to stocks?
  • What relationship exists between curiosity and a desire to learn?
  • What is a binnacle list?

Chapter 3: Word from the Pilgrim

  • How can arithmetic provide Nat with more security?
  • How did Master Watsons apology change Nat?
  • What role does hope play in the Bowditch home?
  • What is hara money versus continental money?
  • How did Tom Perry’s death effect Nat?

Chapter 4: Boys Don’t Blubber

  • What does Hab’s depart do for Nat?
  • What role did Nat assume as the oldest boy?
  • After Hab leaves on the Freedom, why does the family speak so quickly during breakfast?
  • What impact did Cornwallis have?
  • What would be the delay between the end of the war and peace?
  • Why would prices continue to climb despite the end of the war and peace?
  • What did it mean to Nat to not be able to return to school?
  • How did he overcome this tragedy?

Chapter 5: A Voice in the Night

  • How would Dr. Bentley’s opinion on Nat’s intelligence worry and preoccupy Mother’s mind?
  • What pressure and stress did the death of mother and grandmother add to Mary’ life?
  • How did Nat feel about being indentured?

    Calais
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Chapter 6: Sail by Ash Breeze

  • How would the notice of the missing indentured servants impact Nat?
  • How does Nat’s positive attitude bring peace to Lizza?
  • How does change effect Nat? How does it affect you?
  • What does Nat learn in his first few days of being indentured?
  • Why would Nat be so excited about a blank notebook?

Chapter 7: The Almanac

  • Why would Be Meeker want to discourage Nat?
  • How doe Nat learn? What methods does he use to learn?
  • How can you learn something everywhere you go like Nat does?
  • How are ropes, sails and mallets all most important work for a ship?
  • How does Nat make learning fun?
  • How does Nat get carried away in learning?
  • How does Nat’s new life effect Lizza?

Chapter 8: Lock, Stock and Bookkeeper

  • How does Nat’s father lose his anchor to the windward? What does this mean?
  • How are Hab’s life and Nat’s life similar?
  • Why does the author keep using the term Ash Breeze?
  • What would it mean to Nat to see President Washington?
  • To what ends did learned men keep unlearned men from knowledge by using Latin?
  • How does Nat learn Latin from the Bible?
    How does Nat’s persistence related to his ability to learn (p66)?
  • How are hopes dashed by change and reality?

Chapter 9: Anchor to the Windward

  • How did the family dynamics change with Nat’s indentured status?
  • Why would Mary not want to marry a sailor?
  • Does happiness take practice (p73)?
  • Why would Nat’s room seem more empty and lonely after Mary married?
  • What did Nat’s mother’s words mean to him?
    What does it mean to Nat to be a member of the Salem Philosophical Library?
  • How does loss effect Nat?

Chapter 10: Freedom

  • How does learning provide Nat with freedom?
  • How does bartering help Nat with his learning goals?
  • How is Nat like a chair stumbling in the dark?
  • What does having eyes in the back of one’s heart mean?
  • How does Nat bring peace to Elizabeth?

Chapter 11: What next?

  • Do you agree with Nat’s point of view on not criticizing the President of the United States? Why or why not?
  • Where has the ability to criticize our nation’s leaders led our nation? Pros? Cons?
  • Doe negativity breed negativity? Positivity breed positivity?
  • How are human problems unlike math with one correct answer?
  • How did Nat taking advantage of learning while being indentured prepare him for life afterwards?

Chapter 12: Down to the Sea

  • How did Nat build his good reputation?
  • What does Mr. Derby’s rules about the use of Henry say about his character?
  • Compare and contrast surveying and navigation.
  • In navigation, there is no room for error. Is there anything else in life with no room for error?
  • Why was it so difficult to find a longitude?
  • Can everyone learn?
  • What does desire have to do with learning?

Chapter 13: Discovery

  • The colonies and citizens searched for an equality of the classes. By removing class titles, did they achieve the flattening of society?
  • How difficult would it be to alter tradition?
  • Pronouncing French – what did Nat learn about learning something completely?
  • How would Nat feel having found an error in Moore’s Book of Navigation?
  • What other responses could have Prince taken to Nat’s anger?
  • What would this new method to find longitude mean?

Chapter 14: Nineteen Guns

  • What would you say to Mary to comfort her?
  • Were you surprised by Mary’s response? Why? Why not?
  • “Nat listened hungrily.” (p125) What does this say about Nat’s character and strive to learn?
  • What can be done when treaties are not honored?
  • Why would Nat be happy about losing shipmates?
  • What do we learn from comparing how Nat spends his spare time to Lem’s spare time?

Chapter 15: Sail Ho.o.o.o.o.o

  • What is Nat’s solution to the crew trouble?
  • Did it have a benefit?
  • How does education change a man from the inside out?
  • How does self-criticism effect learning?
  • How does anger waste time?

Chapter 16: A Simple Matter of Mathematics

  • What is a simple matter of mathematics?
  • Why would a battle be better than a leak?
  • How did Nat feel meeting David Ferrel?

Chapter 17: Lunars and Moonlight

  • What would our country look like today without a navy?
  • What would Nat feel being mistaken for going to college?
  • How serious did Nat take his studies? Did it proof providential?
  • What would it mean to Nat to be supercargo?
  • How does education create self-esteem?

Chapter 18: The Astrea to the Rescue

  • Why would the captain have a go-to-sea face?
  • What role do superstitions play in sale water curing a logbook?

Chapter 19: Strange Sailing Orders

  • What would it be like for Nat to return to Salem?
  • What could Elizabeth’s dowry have been?
  • How did Nat find her purpose or calling in life?
  • Why would Nat be so angry about Polly’s noted?
  • What dangers did the inexperienced crew bring?

Chapter 20: Book Sailing

  • What do you do to overcome fear?
  • How does knowledge overcome fear?
  • How would it be easier to teach all men than one?
  • How does the teacher work harder?
    How does knowledge breed security and peace?
  • What did the crew feel about the captain bragging that everyone on board could do lunars?

Chapter 21: Sealing is Safer

  • How does Polly’s belief in Nat encourage him?
  • What would it mean to Nat to be a capitalist?
  • What does it mean when Polly says, “He’s swallowed the anchor?” (p215)
  • What would be the financial loss of the losing the John?

Chapter 22: Science and Sumatra

  • Why do some events bring regrets?
  • Why would Harvard award a degree to Nat?
  • How and why does Nat protect Polly when Lem shares of his experience in Sumatra?
  • How does busy keep people fit?

Chapter 23: Captain Bowditch Commanding

  • How would all of Nat’s studying help him to ban an able captain?
  • How did Nat’s dedication to teach the crews on the pat voyages serve him as a captain?
  • How are leadership and authority lonely?
  • How does Nat explain things so others will understand?
  • Why is fog worse than rain?

Chapter 24: Man Against the Fog

  • What is the danger of sailing without sun, moon or stars?
  • What did Nat want Corey to sleep?
  • What enable Nat to be able to get to shore in a dense fog?

By Tracy Atkinson

Tracy Atkinson, mother of six, lives in the Midwest with her husband. She is a teacher, having taught elementary school to higher education, holding degrees in elementary education and a master’s in higher education. Her passion is researching, studying and investigating the attributes related to self-directed learners. She has published several titles, including Calais: The Annals of the Hidden, Lemosa: The Annals of the Hidden, Book Two, Rachel’s 8 and Securing Your Tent. She is currently working on a non-fiction text exploring the attributes of self-directed learners: The Five Characteristics of Self-directed Learners.

Tracy Harrington-Atkinson

Tracy Harrington-Atkinson, mother of six, lives in the mid-west with her husband. She loved storytelling and sharing her stories with her children. As they grew, she started writing her stories down for them. She is a teacher, having taught from elementary school to higher education, holding degrees in elementary education, masters in higher education and continued on to a PhD in curriculum design. Her husband, Kerry and Tracy breed miniature dachshunds and love to spend time with their growing family. She has published several books including Calais: The Annals of the Hidden, Rachel's 8 and Securing Your Tent.