Some Personal Observations
The Walter James Miller and Frederick Paul Walter translation from 1993 with annotations was received in September 2014 and became the best reference I could have. Even an improvement over WJM’s earlier version I had in paperback.
I would have liked if the annotations for the new WJM translation had covered more about the boat. As it is, they were a nice addition for the historical aspects. But again I find myself left to my own enterprise in resolving so many issues in the Nautilus design.
We can not rely on the original woodcuts!
* No consistency between any picture depicting the same Nautilus part or section.
* No two pictures show the Wheelhouse the same size, shape, number of ports or location. These were, after all, artistic renderings, not technical drawings.
* Pictures show the Salon windows as oval, Verne only describes them as being rectangles.
* The Jean-Pierre Bouvet version shows elaborate ceiling in Salon, as did the de Neuville woodcut, yet Verne describes using “light arabesques”. These are large fixtures suspended from the ceiling. The ceiling was also describes as white to reflect the light from the lamps.
* Pictures show sloped Wheelhouse which can not be retracted, an opening remains allowing the sea to enter. Same for the Searchlight. Verne describes both as retractable, leaving a smooth hull for ramming.
The Wheelhouse was described as 6′ square, similar to a riverboat. “Fore and aft rose two cupolas of medium height partly enclosed in thick biconvex glass.”
Biconvex lenses may have worked on the Searchlight, but would have been inappropriate for clear, straight sight from the Wheelhouse. I used flat, curved glass on the outside of my Wheelhouse and Searchlight for pressure strength when extended, while submerged, but applied the lenticular biconvex lenses for the search light proper. I tried making the two enclosures square, but elected to make them round to better withstand the pressure, retracted or raised, as well as to match the two. Round would help withstand the high pressure better when submerged.
* It must be noted, the Wheelhouse & Searchlight were both raised on occasion while the boat was submerged.
* The Reflector/Searchlight shape was never described in detail.
* One picture shows the Wheelhouse raised while below the surface. One picture shows a forward hatch in front of the Wheelhouse, but also two front windows. Some pictures show the Wheelhouse with only one front view port, while others show on all sides. Verne described the Wheelhouse to have view ports on all sides.
* Riou’s Wheelhouse illustration shows NO CONTROLS, only the helm wheel and is completely out of proportion.
We know there were controls for the rudder and planes, at the least, plus the various gauges that were copied in Nemo’s cabin and the Salon.
* No illustration depicts a Wheelhouse large enough for three people. (Ch 45)
* Some pictures show the platform, but others not at all. Most are elevated above the hull surface.
* Pictures shows the central staircase without a handrail while Verne describes the use of a handrail.
* One picture shows the overlapping plating defining the direction of the bow and stern, and depicts the Searchlight being retracted, but still not flush.
* No depictions of the Reflector/Searchlight allow for the characteristics Verne described. The famous Riou picture of the Nautilus submerged shows the Searchlight much too far aft to fit any design of the interior I’ve seen, putting it over the Machine Room.
* Nemo stood in the Wheelhouse and looked out “The Port Scuttle”. A porthole on a ship may also be called a sidescuttle or side scuttle (side hole). Although technically a “porthole”, this one could never be opened since the Wheelhouse was either raised while submerged or otherwise hidden from view.
* The number of pieces of art depicted in my Salon drawings are true to the 30 pieces stated in the narrative. So they all could have truly fit… comfortably.