All my life, I've liked turtles.
Little did I know that the world's first submarine used in combat was called
"Turtle". It did look like a turtle, and it was invented and built in
Connecticut by David Bushnell.
Bushnell invented the Turtle to
carry his underwater explosives, which he also invented. His was also the
world's first time bomb running off a watch. He invented a raft of submarine
subsystems, like ballasts and screw propellers.
We hear of subs as early as World
War I, but Bushnell was way before that. Before the Spanish-American War,
before the Civil War, before the War of 1812. He built his Turtle in 1775 to
attack British ships during the Revolutionary War.
When folks invent even one new
thing, it often comes with an explosion or drowning that curtails further
inventing. Bushnell was unusual in that all his inventions worked right out of
the gate, except one. To attach his bomb, Bushnell planned to use a hand auger
to drill into the bottom of the British ships. Unknown to him, the British had
started covering their hulls with copper sheets to reduce marine fouling. His
augur couldn't penetrate the copper, and the Turtle slinked back to port in
Bushnell and everyone on his team
saw only that their British adversary continued to float defiantly in New York
harbor. They all agreed that the Turtle was a flop.
Chaulking up the Turtle as a total
loss, Bushnell became a doctor and never again spoke of his crazy, impractical
My take-away was a question. What
are the chances that we also discovered something, started something, or
accomplished something in our own lives that didn't succeed, and so we branded
it a failure and moved on, all without realizing that some time later, it would
become the foundation for something outstanding?
We sometimes look to our kids that
way, that maybe their false starts would lead to distinction and success. And
then we could take our measure of the credit.
What if one of our failures,
something we've long since purged from our memories out of embarassment, still
lingers in the annals of the internet, growing moldy, but still ready to be
dusted off by the guy with an augur that can pierce copper?
Busting out from the bark
Kiss me and you'll turn int a prince
Horseshoe crabs trapped in a tide pool
The city on a horseshoe crab
Kids catching blue crabs
|For more pictures of Connecticut and Rhode Island, click here.