In 1854, Chatham's very own George Eldridge published the first edition of Eldridge's Pilot for Vineyard Sound and Monomoy Shoals. The 32 page, grey, paper-covered volume, which had no recorded price, was devoted to nautical "dangers," and embellished with his personal, oft-amusing observations. In 1870, George Eldridge sent his son to Vineyard Haven to peddle his father's books and charts. Young George was only too pleased to relocate, as Vineyard Haven was, at that time, second only to the English Channel as the busiest harbor in all the world. It was not uncommon to see as many as one hundred schooners anchored off the coast awaiting a favorable current. Ever the burgeoning entrepreneur, George Junior set off in a catboat to sell his father's charts from boat to boat. During these transactions, mariners often wished to know when the current would turn to run East or West in the Sound. The Younger George made careful observations, and one day, while in the ship chandlery of Charles Holmes, he set down the first draft of a tide table that remains in use to this day.
With the help of the elder Eldridge, Young George devised tide tables for each of the harbors he visited. First published in 1875, the Eldridge tide table became the indispensable book for all who sailed the tempestuous Atlantic Ocean. At a time when countless vessels foundered and met sad ends among the hidden rocks and shifting shoals, Eldridge constantly updated his publications to help fellow seafarers navigate unusual currents into the safety of well-mapped harbors. It's impossible to say just how many sailors this father and son team saved from a watery grave, but their legacy of careful observation is still carried out by their descendants, and when we look upon their charts in our shop, we can't help but be proud that both Eldridges called our quaint little seaside town their home.
Maps of Antiquity is located on Cape Cod
Generally open 10-5 Call ahead: 508-945-1660
1409 Main Street (Route 28)
Chatham, Massachusetts 02633