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Old 22-07-2006, 17:47   #1
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Davis Mark 15 Sextant

I have an opportunity to purchase a used Davis Mark 15 sextant and a reasonable price. I don't want to sink a lot of money into a sextant because in the back of my mind, for the price of a decent brass or aluminum sextant, I could easily get a back up GPS unit. But I would like to learn the sextant and realize that the Davis Mark 15 won't be as accurate as the more "professional' jobbies. Any opinions or what are folks experience with this sextant.

Link provided to picture of said sextant:

http://www.davisnet.com/productpics/big/00026.jpg
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Old 22-07-2006, 18:45   #2
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Aloha RSN,
I have two different Mark 15s and two Mark 25s plus a more expensive aluminum AstraIIIb.
The Mark 15 will be as accurate as your most expensive sextants if you adjust the mirrors properly before each use. The metal sextants don't go out of adjustment as often as the plastic ones. Follow directions on adjustments so there are no index errors. The difference between the 15 and the 25 later models is that the 25 has a battery powered light to read more accurately in the dark.
The very early Mark 15 (very rare now) has a vernier and is not as accurate as the later version with the micrometer drum.
Check to see that the mirrors are not cloudy or mildewed or have black spots on the edges. Mirror kits for the 15 are available through Davis for $20 and change plus mailing.
A good used Mark 15 should not be very expensive. Less than $100 I would think.
Regards,
JohnL
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Old 22-07-2006, 21:27   #3
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My first question is why do you have so many sextants, do you teach it? I did go to the Davis site and was surprised that you can get the Mark 25 over hauled, and the lesser Mark 3 but not the Mark 15 if I understand their site correctly. I also noticed that parts were very reasonably priced so that has given me confidence.

I shop at a marine consignment store and occassionally there are some very good deals. This is one of those stores where the price drops every day. I had a chance to pick up a used Freiberger at around $300 but I hesitated and I guess some one else also was watching the price drop and grabbed it ahead of me.

http://www.regiozeist.nl/eng_scheeps...reiberger2.htm

The Davis I am looking at is around $75 Canadian; I've been watching its price drop and I know I should buy it soon or some else in the background like myself will nab it.
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Old 22-07-2006, 21:56   #4
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I have so many sextants because about 30 years ago I originally had the very old 15 given to me. I took a class with it then planned a Pacific crossing and I purchased a 25 before leaving. Then, a liveaboard friend left Hawaii and left me his 25. Someone else had the 15 and said the mirrors were bad and asked if I wanted it. I can't turn anything nautical down when offered. I've since replaced all the mirrors in the 15s and 25s.
The AstraIIIb was offered at a bargain price and I could turn it down.
I do teach my friends celestial if they are willing to learn at a very slow pace but most of them have their own sextants.
I would say that the 15 at $75 Canadian is a bargain especially if it is in good shape.
The plastic 15s and 25s if properly adjusted are really just as good as the metal ones. Don't spend over $200 on a good metal sextant unless you just can't wait to spend the money.
Kind Regards, --JohnL--
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Old 22-07-2006, 21:57   #5
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RSN,
I made a couple of grammatical errors in the above message. The AstraIIIb I just could not turn down.
Regards,

JohnL
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Old 31-07-2006, 15:29   #6
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Aloha RSN,
Did you get that Mark 15?
Regards,

JohnL
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Old 01-08-2006, 23:29   #7
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NO! Some one beat me to the punch. The problem with marine consignment stores is that I get greedy, waiting for the price to drop further. The day after my original post, I went in to buy it and it had been taken. But I have found that sextants are one of those items that show regularly at marine consignment stores; you can thank GPS for that, and the fact the guy never learnt how to use it.

I have noticed that the older brass units have wear and tear on the numbers and it becomes hard to read them. Plus the price starts bizarrely high on the brass units; there are two older units in at the moment and the price started at $700 on one and $500 on the other, but they do look a tad ragged.

A story: My buddy is a Ferry Captain. I asked him if he was trained on sextant use. He said sort of, but the instructor told the "officer wannabes" that the examiners were lazy and asked you to pick the sextant up out of the box; if you did it wrong then they threw real "how to use the sextant" questions at you. So the instructor spent hours showing his students how to pick the sextant up correctly; and drilled them on it - they all passed.

So I wait to pounce on another Mark 15 when it comes in. I don't want to pay too much as if the money gets to high, then I think I should be spending it on a back up (which I already have) GPS unit.

Now I'm waiting to pounce on a stainless steel CQR styled anchor which is bizarrely low in price. Of course at the marina, those around me will think I'm some kind of idiot with this shiny new stainless steel CQR styled anchor on an older Catalina - but what to heck - if you can't make those around you have a good laugh, what's the point I say!

I have been dying to share this bit of humour with some one and since you were patient in your explanations of Sextants to me, here is one of my favourites. One of the great aspects of marine consignment stores is the great books you can get on the cheap. I just finished reading Sir Francis Chichester's "Gipsy Moth Circles the World." Sir Francis circled the world in 1966 - 67 and returned to a great welcome back in England and was knighted by the Queen. When Sir Francis Chichester arrived in Sidney, he was hounded with many media questions, which he didn't feel like answering since he had been alone for such a while. Here is one of the responses, he never gave:

"A lot of the questions were tricky, metaphysical ones, which I thought rather stupid to fire at a man who had been alone for 100 days. After dealing for a long time with the basic facts of life, such as survival, one's values change completely as to what should, or should not be, taken seriously. To the question, 'When were your spirits at their lowest ebb?' the obvious answer seemed to be, 'When the gin gave out.' "
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Old 02-08-2006, 06:21   #8
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If you can't laugh at yourself and have others laugh with you (and sometiimes at you) you are missing out on your best material.

As a child I grew up reading stuff in my granparent's library, all leftovers from my father and two uncles who were all great readers. One uncle left "Gypsy Moth Circles the World" and when the time came to sail myself I never wondered if it could be done, only if I could do it.

As for sextants, Chichester writes in "The Romantic Challenge" at length about the troubles he had using a sextant from a small boat in the swells. The lesson I took away was that having the very best in sextants was not going to change the accuracy of my results a whole lot. Sure the plastic sextants may have more error and more adjustments are required to use them but they are going to be as good as a poorly cared for metal one.

What is the latest on the Moth? Anyone keeping up with her latest voyage?
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Old 02-08-2006, 07:25   #9
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I believe that Gypsy Moth is in Sydney Australia at the moment. She ran aground on a reef off Tahiti and had to have repairs done in New Zealand.

I went onboard her about 20 years ago when she was ashore in Greenwich, London. Although she was out of her element you could see how beautiful she was and I am very pleased that she is now refitted and back where she belongs.
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Old 06-08-2006, 12:11   #10
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RSN,
Too bad about the Davis. A stainless CQR hanging on your bow would be great. Just don't leave it down in the muck too long. Galvanized is better for permanent. Let me know if you want my Davis 15. Who needs 5 sextants anyway? It will be a really bargain price which we can discuss via personal email. I can also tell you exactly the condition and send photos.
Kind Regards, --JohnL--
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Old 06-08-2006, 12:22   #11
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Pura Vida,

Gypsy Moth ran aground on a reef in the Tuomotos, following an apparent idiotic spate of negligence by her captain and mate. Both of them have been "dismissed".

There's an article with details and heart-rending pix in the current Soundings.

Amazing how many wonderful boats with glorious pasts come to grief in the hands of new owners (think Yankee, Alexandria, the new Yankee, Gypsy Moth, etc., etc.).

Maybe they just don't make sailors the way they used to, or maybe all this newfangled electronic navigation stuff just lulls us into a false sense of security.

Whatever, it's a damned shame. At least in this instance, somebody "paid" for their folly.

Bill
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Old 06-08-2006, 12:31   #12
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Can you share a couple of links to these consignment stores....are they online or a physical store? Just curious.
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Old 06-08-2006, 17:37   #13
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This is the one I use; its in North Vancouver, BC where I live. Its kind of like legalized gambling, since that is what you are doing when you spot an item and decide to ride it out to get a low price; kind of like Ebay, you might get the item, you might not.

I got a para-anchor that I can use off my bow, for around $150. The para-anchor was "used" but it have never been used. I also bought a Seabrake drogue for on the cheap; it too had never been used. I like to pick up items, I think I would like but I don't want to invest too heavily in them in case they aren't my cup of tea.

http://www.popeyescatalogshop.com/

On another note: I saw a new Davis Sextant that I don't consider too much and I might pick it up.

Here is a listing of other marine consignment stores in the Pacific North West and South Coastal BC:

http://www.popeyesailorsexchange.com.../usedequip.htm
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Old 06-08-2006, 17:56   #14
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Bummer news on Gypy Moth. I need to start following the threads and news better.
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Old 07-11-2006, 18:27   #15
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SkiprJohn

Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiprJohn
RSN,
Too bad about the Davis. A stainless CQR hanging on your bow would be great. Just don't leave it down in the muck too long. Galvanized is better for permanent. Let me know if you want my Davis 15. Who needs 5 sextants anyway? It will be a really bargain price which we can discuss via personal email. I can also tell you exactly the condition and send photos.
Kind Regards, --JohnL--
If RSN is not interested in the Davis 15 I might be, let me know.
Fair Winds, Dave
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