IT is remarkable that Joseph Whidbey has for so long remained in obscurity despite the facts that he played a key role in the survey of the Northwest Coast of America in 1792-4, that he had a large island in the State of Washington named after him and that, on his return to England in 1795, he began a second career which culminated in one of the greatest engineering achievements of nineteenthcentury Britain, the building of Plymouth Breakwater.