Golovnin and chronometers

April 18, 1808, Captain V. Golovnin, commander of the sloop "Diana", not knowing about the war between Russia and England, entered his ship into the British possessions - Falls Bay Bay near Cape Town near the southern tip of Africa. Although Golovnin had a passport issued by the British government that certified the scientific purposes of navigation and should serve as a guard in case of war, the British authorities detained a Russian ship and, frankly, forbade Golovnin to take him to sea. After eight months of forced parking, the ship's treasury was emptied, and Golovnin had nothing to feed the team. The British authorities refused to assume the costs of its maintenance, and the suppliers of provisions, although they agreed to supply the loan, did not want to accept promissory notes from Golovnin, for which money could only be received after the war was over. Caught in a desperate situation, the commander of Diana considered it possible to break the word given to the British and disappear at the first opportunity presented. However, Golovnin was oppressed by the thought that he, a Russian officer, could be accused of running, not paying his debts for the contentment of the team. "If, unfortunately, the English took and brought us back, what eyes they would look at us in the colony," he wrote subsequently. And, after all, Golovnin found an unusual way out...

April 18, 1808, Captain V. Golovnin, commander of the sloop Diana, not knowing about the war between Russia and England, entered his ship into the British possessions

On board the "Diana" were three very perfect marine chronometers, which during the forced parking were transferred to the premises on the shore for systematic accuracy adjustment. Golovnin ordered two chronometers of them to return to the ship, and one to leave on the shore. May 16, 1809, the sky over Cape Town was clouded and a gusty north-west wind blew. The navigator Khlebnikov left the house where the chronometers were checked, and, locking the door behind him, sat down in the boat, which brought him aboard the "Diana". None of the outsiders knew that in the locked room next to the chronometer left on the shore, he put Golovnin's letter to the suppliers of provisions. In it the commander of the Russian ship asked to sell the left chronometer and to keep the debt out of the proceeds. The escape of "Diana" was a success. And since no one has ever accused Golovnin of failing to pay the debt, we can assume that the suppliers considered the amount of money earned for the chronometer quite sufficient. This circumstance gives some idea of the enormous cost of the then marine chronometers. After all the money earned from the sale of one copy was enough to pay for the contentment of 60 people for 4 months! Who was the manufacturer of this chronometer? On Russian ships, going to ocean voyages, it was supposed to have three chronometers. When the Neva and Nadezhda, under the command of I. Kruzenstern, set off for the first round-the-world voyage in 1803, six chronometers were ordered for them in England: four to Arnold and two to Pennington. Of these, the most solid was, of course, the first, founded by J. Arnold (1736-1799), who was one of the creators of the chronometer motion and who, by the way, introduced the word "chronometer". Apparently, the "Diane" had chronometers of the same firms. And if this is so, then Golovnin left in payment of debts a less accurate Pennington chronometer.