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Old 08-11-2019, 11:01   #31
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Re: Are antique sextants any good?

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Originally Posted by charliehows View Post
Joshua Slocum circumnavigated the world using a cheap tin alarm clock for his chronometer; you could do the same today using a $150 handheld GPS, or a $20 digital watch and a $120 "practice" sextant.
Easier said than done.

But why spend $140 on navigational instruments?
Save it for cookies. Marvin Cramer circunavigated without any, not even a sextant. Yes, and a CCA Blue Water Medal for his adventure....

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Old 08-11-2019, 11:19   #32
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Re: Are antique sextants any good?

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Easier said than done.

But why spend $140 on navigational instruments?
Save it for cookies. Marvin Cramer circunavigated without any, not even a sextant. Yes, and a CCA Blue Water Medal for his adventure....

The video says he did use a sextant. In 1984 that and Satnav were the only choices for ocean voyaging. GPS did not become readily available until about 1991.
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Old 08-11-2019, 12:01   #33
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Re: Are antique sextants any good?

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The video says he did use a sextant. In 1984 that and Satnav were the only choices for ocean voyaging. GPS did not become readily available until about 1991.
Not sure where you heard that, but he was acclaimed for cricunavigating without sextant and compass, hence the Blue Water medal. And obviously without a GPS or SATNAV.
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Old 08-11-2019, 12:42   #34
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Re: Are antique sextants any good?

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The video says he did use a sextant.
Incorrect, Creamer is well known for what he achieved without instruments....
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Old 08-11-2019, 12:47   #35
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Re: Are antique sextants any good?

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Real antique sextants are as good as new ones. I bought my russian one for about $ 250,- and couldn‘t resist to buy a Tamaya for $ 160

Those are great prices! I usually see those going for much more on the 'bay, and it's of course a crapshoot whether you get something working, or an incomplete relic that someone dropped.
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Old 08-11-2019, 12:49   #36
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Re: Are antique sextants any good?

Several have stated that $100 is a poor price range. BUT the OP didnt say $100. He said $1000. There is a BIG difference. My sextant is a $350 (10 years ago) Russian copy of a Plath that I bought on EBay. Its a great instrument with all the accessories, two scopes and a wooden box.
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Old 08-11-2019, 13:04   #37
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Re: Are antique sextants any good?

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Several have stated that $100 is a poor price range. BUT the OP didnt say $100. He said $1000. There is a BIG difference. My sextant is a $350 (10 years ago) Russian copy of a Plath that I bought on EBay. Its a great instrument with all the accessories, two scopes and a wooden box.
He said.......

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I can buy a 'working' (and antique) sextant on eBay for <$100 or a modern sextant from a dealer for >$1000.
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Old 08-11-2019, 13:35   #38
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Re: Are antique sextants any good?

Slocum had a sextant. His clock was purely for reference as it was a cheap alarm clock with only the hour hand. The minute hand had gone walk about before he left.

Slocum used moon sights for his sextant navigation as that does not require an accurate chronometer to get longitude and a fix. The tables for navigation using the moon were removed from Bowditch about the time Slocum was sailing. They took so much time and math to compute that they were finally dropped when accurate chronometers became generally available and affordable. Chronometers weren't cheap but affordable though they were apparently more money than Slocum had.

There are old sextants and then there are the cheap knockoff coffee table sextants. The old sextants work just fine and are available over a range of prices based on age and condition. You need to check the mirrors and sextant out for corrosion damage and whether the sextant has been dropped and bent. Best deals are the Soviet Navy sextants. Tamiya, Freiberger, Astra II, David White, and other quality manufacturers are usually more but think I saw a David White USN WWII sextant on eBay for a couple hundred. C Plath sextants are the Mercedes of sextants and get close to 4 figure $ used. Look for a micrometer sextant as they are so much easier to read accurately. The vernier type work but you have to be careful reading them accurately.
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Old 08-11-2019, 14:29   #39
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Re: Are antique sextants any good?

sorry - didnt feel the need to state the bleeding obvious - of course Slocum had a sextant. What exactly do you mean by his having a clock "purely for reference"? a sextant and a chronometer are both "purely for reference" - is there some fine distinction I am missing here? The singular advantage Slocum had was his many years of travel and experience as a commercial captain - most of us who have ever sailed anywhere twice will attest to the general experience that the second time doesnt require much 'navigation'.
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Old 08-11-2019, 15:29   #40
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Re: Are antique sextants any good?

I think my old Plath cost me $400. You can find used Plaths in good shape on fleabay for around $600 pretty easy. A little less for Freibergers, etc. Many of these are coming from the shipbreakers and most have seen only moderate to light use. Stick with a known brand and make sure it is the real deal before you pull the trigger and you will probably do okay. Another good option is a new Astra. Very nice instrument for the money. Invest $100 in a better case and you are good to go. Plastic sextants? I honestly don't think much of them, ESPECIALLY for learning with. While learning, you need a sextant you can rely on for sub minute accuracy. You need to be able to see when you have made a mistake. Error of plastic sextants can exceed observer error or some math errors and hide them, short circuiting the learning process. A plastic sextant is a very practical backup sextant, though. If you never use it, you only wasted $100 or whatever. They are kinda fun to use, though, in a minimalist sort of way.


A brand new Tamaya or Plath or whatever is money that could have been better spent, if you ask me, but if your pockets are deep, go for it.


The "antique" $100 sextants are 100% garbage for actual use. Buy one, mount it on a nice walnut plaque and give it to your local bar for decor or hang it in your man cave. That's all they are good for. This is especially true for all the "pocket sextants" for sale on fleabay. Many of them look very much like the genuine article but a real one won't go for less than about $2k if it is all there and is still usable.



Back to salvaged ship sextants. Unfortunately most of the world's leading shipbreakers are in India or Pakistan, and this is also where most of the fake antique sextants are made. Sooner or later, somebody will decide that there is money in making a good looking counterfeit of a professional sextant and try to pass it off as a pull from the breakers.
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Old 08-11-2019, 16:13   #41
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Re: Are antique sextants any good?

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Incorrect, Creamer is well known for what he achieved without instruments....
At 1:30 he talks about confirming his latitude with a noon sight on his way to the Azores before the circumnavigation

At 4:00 he talks about only being able to take 5 sights on his Pacific crossing during his circumnavigation. So obviously he used a sextant some of the time. How many other times he took sights we don't know.

Yes, he did a circumnavigation, possibly with few sights but from his own words he did take sights.
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Old 08-11-2019, 16:32   #42
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Re: Are antique sextants any good?

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At 1:30 he talks about confirming his latitude with a noon sight on his way to the Azores before the circumnavigation

At 4:00 he talks about only being able to take 5 sights on his Pacific crossing during his circumnavigation. So obviously he used a sextant some of the time. How many other times he took sights we don't know.

Yes, he did a circumnavigation, possibly with few sights but from his own words he did take sights.
I could have bet the farm you would come back with the "sight" quotes, you do not need any instruments to take a sight....

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Marvin Creamer (born January 24, 1916) is a former college professor and amateur American sailor noted for having sailed around the globe without the aid of navigational instruments. Between December, 21, 1982, and May 17, 1984, Creamer and the crew of his 36-foot boat, Globe Star, circumnavigated the globe without a compass, sextant, watch, or other instruments. The ship spent 510 days at sea.[1] As general guides, Creamer observed the sun and stars, currents, and occasionally the regional biological setting. In honor of his voyage, Rowan University created the Marvin Creamer Scholarship Fund. He turned 100 in January 2016.
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Old 08-11-2019, 18:06   #43
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Re: Are antique sextants any good?

I haven't bought this, but at $20 it looks like you could at least pretend to use it and it looks better than a plastic sextant.

https://www.harborfreight.com/vintag...ant-66096.html

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Old 08-11-2019, 18:21   #44
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Re: Are antique sextants any good?

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I could have bet the farm you would come back with the "sight" quotes, you do not need any instruments to take a sight....
Yes, you do need some kind of instrument to measure the height of an object. Before the sextant there was the octant, before the octant there was an astrolabe and before that a couple of sticks. They were all instruments of some kind. Tell me how you could determine your position with no way to determine the height of an object or when you were at local noon?
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Old 08-11-2019, 19:06   #45
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Re: Are antique sextants any good?

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Yes, you do need some kind of instrument to measure the height of an object. Before the sextant there was the octant, before the octant there was an astrolabe and before that a couple of sticks. They were all instruments of some kind. Tell me how you could determine your position with no way to determine the height of an object or when you were at local noon?
Well, here is one way; no need for measuring height or time!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/We,_the_Navigators
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