Nice to see so much interest in this! Both from new sailors
, & more seasoned folks.
Bowditch's was one of the primaries at the US Naval Academy for quite a while. Not sure if they still are. But I've still got mine from when I was there, circa late '80s.
Most of it's just common sense, well, the position finding bits anyway. And I can't honestly see serious sailors not knowing the stuff. Especially consistently keeping a good DR plot, regardless of what electronics
you do or don't have.
Celestial's a bit tougher, but it's good to know the basics of that too. The biggest sticking point with it is staying in practice.
One other thing which you might find of interest is the way that the ancient Polynesians used to (& still do) navigate, sans instruments, while doing trans-oceanic voyages.
Originally Posted by Lepke
You can download a copy of Bowditch's American Practical Navigator here: United States. Hydrographic Office | The Online Books Page
Also useful pubs.
A am a navy
trained navigator and still practice. A sextant takes some skill to get an accurate fix and then is nowhere near GPS
. On a stable ship, a really good fix is within a mile. Also, it's a series of fixes, morning stars, morning sun, local apparent noon, afternoon sun, evening stars, and moon shots if available. Previous line of positions brought are forward like a running fix and added to current
Taking a course would probably give better results. Many colleges have night courses and business that sell sextants often have classes
Thanks for this link! And I'd concur with most of what you said above. Though getting a sextant fix down to a mile speaks of real expertise to me. But I've only used them on sailboats, not shipboard.
Also, yes, taking a class does tend to make learning
celestial easier... if
, you have a good instructor.
As, for example, they made us learn all of the theoretical stuff first. Such as how to do the calc's the long way, by hand, sans calculator. Where one tiny mistake destroys 15min+ of work.
Only after doing this for a couple of months did we even see a sextant live. Ugh!
The insanity being that I can, & have, explained the basics to people in a couple of minutes. So don't let it intimidate you. It's basically geometry, if one distills things down.