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View Poll Results: Blue Water- is a Sextant Necessary?
Absolutely essential 24 18.90%
Desirable, but not essential 52 40.94%
Good fun, but little practical use these days 39 30.71%
Don't waste your money and time on this 11 8.66%
Sextants make excellent dingy anchors. 3 2.36%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 127. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 21-11-2012, 02:57   #196
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Re: Poll-Blue water. Is a Sextant Necessary?

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Originally Posted by Thumbs Up View Post
I didn't read this thread and I don't have a sextant or almanac. But i would like to get one and learn to use it. With the gps we can actually test it's accuracy and find mistakes in our corrections. Then if gps goes down, we know where we stand.
I did know a guy who sailed from San Diego to Hawaii by himself with no gps, no sextant and no autopilot. But he had a protractor with a string and a fishing line weight tied to it. His only chart was a map of the Pacific from a National Geographic magazine. He found Hawaii with a transistor radio!
Reminds me of the Nevil Shute fictional novel "Trustee From the Tool Room". The sailor in that navigated between the US and Hawaii by reaching the air route between SF and Hawaii in his homebuilt timber yacht, then following the planes. His only navigational aid was an Atlas with one page devoted to the Pacific. Was an entertaining read!
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Old 21-11-2012, 03:28   #197
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Yep, an old sailor up here told me the way to sail from Alaska to Hawaii. "Sail south until your butter starts to melt, then follow the contrails."
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Old 21-11-2012, 11:23   #198
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Re: Poll-Blue water. Is a Sextant Necessary?

I think that GPS has opened the world for people that want to cruise. If GPS went down it would "separate the wheat from the chaff" very quickly. Having a sextant onboard has become a novelty. Accuracy is incomparable. Sailors went for days or even weeks without being able to take a good site. With gps you can follow your old tracks back into a tricky place. I forgot to mention that my friend who sailed to Hawaii with no gps or sextant was in a 23' swing keeled Aquarius trailer sailer. He also had no VHF, no EPIRB, no satphone, no liferaft. This isn't the right thread for it but I like to talk about this guy. He was, incidentally, lost at sea attempting to sail the little boat back to the mainland. This time he had a GPS and an E-PIRB and a few nautical charts. He was never heard from again.
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Old 21-11-2012, 13:23   #199
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Re: Poll-Blue water. Is a Sextant Necessary?

At the same time, the record of incidents indicates that GPS has given very raw sailors (and quite a few drivers) perhaps a measure of over-confidence that is no replacement for seamanship, keeping a watch, and exhibiting common sense.

GPS is a good tool, but no tool is a replacement for the mind that uses it properly.

With a sextant, the tendency toward inaccuracy or error is known; the object of CN practice is to recognize that tendency and to reduce error to positions that are useful and useable, which need not mean 20 metres of accuracy in the middle of the ocean, but does mean developing a reliable and repeatable technique with the sextant and calculations that gives that meaningful position.

That alone implies a greater engagement with the problems of navigation and route planning than simply sailing to a waypoint and watching the lat/lon numerals blink.
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Old 22-11-2012, 01:01   #200
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Re: Poll-Blue water. Is a Sextant Necessary?

On another thread, there is a discussion re: Do you know Nathaniel Bowditch? Some do not. If you have never heard of Bowditch, I would question how much you know about navigation. You might be perfectly capable of reading a GPS or a chartplotter But if you're fro the states - if know anything about navigation, you've heard of Bowditch
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Old 22-11-2012, 02:18   #201
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Re: Poll-Blue water. Is a Sextant Necessary?

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Originally Posted by Thumbs Up View Post
......
I forgot to mention that my friend who sailed to Hawaii with no gps or sextant was in a 23' swing keeled Aquarius trailer sailer. He also had no VHF, no EPIRB, no satphone, no liferaft. This isn't the right thread for it but I like to talk about this guy. He was, incidentally, lost at sea attempting to sail the little boat back to the mainland. This time he had a GPS and an E-PIRB and a few nautical charts. He was never heard from again.
I doubt if a sextant would have helped him at all .
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Old 22-11-2012, 02:47   #202
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Re: Poll-Blue water. Is a Sextant Necessary?

I like the idea of being independent and self-sufficient in passage making.
So Celestial and classic Navigation are skills I used a lot before GPS and have always carried that option when crossing oceans.
Since I prefer to live far from the mainstream, my only thought is that if a real shooting war started between the primary world powers, all GPS would be down.
That would also be the time I would want to disappear.
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Old 22-11-2012, 05:40   #203
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Re: Poll-Blue water. Is a Sextant Necessary?

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Originally Posted by Thumbs Up View Post
I forgot to mention that my friend who sailed to Hawaii with no gps or sextant was in a 23' swing keeled Aquarius trailer sailer. He also had no VHF, no EPIRB, no satphone, no liferaft. This isn't the right thread for it but I like to talk about this guy. He was, incidentally, lost at sea attempting to sail the little boat back to the mainland. This time he had a GPS and an E-PIRB and a few nautical charts. He was never heard from again.

so just suicide by boat!
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Old 22-11-2012, 05:54   #204
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carstenb
On another thread, there is a discussion re: Do you know Nathaniel Bowditch? Some do not. If you have never heard of Bowditch, I would question how much you know about navigation. You might be perfectly capable of reading a GPS or a chartplotter But if you're fro the states - if know anything about navigation, you've heard of Bowditch
I beleive you are referring to the American or more correctly the New American Practical Navigator. Mr Bowditch input having been superceeded a long time ago. I have versions from 1900 up. A lot of celestial stuff is of course now removed.

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Old 22-11-2012, 05:57   #205
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Quote:
Originally Posted by S/V Alchemy
At the same time, the record of incidents indicates that GPS has given very raw sailors (and quite a few drivers) perhaps a measure of over-confidence that is no replacement for seamanship, keeping a watch, and exhibiting common sense.

GPS is a good tool, but no tool is a replacement for the mind that uses it properly.

With a sextant, the tendency toward inaccuracy or error is known; the object of CN practice is to recognize that tendency and to reduce error to positions that are useful and useable, which need not mean 20 metres of accuracy in the middle of the ocean, but does mean developing a reliable and repeatable technique with the sextant and calculations that gives that meaningful position.

That alone implies a greater engagement with the problems of navigation and route planning than simply sailing to a waypoint and watching the lat/lon numerals blink.
This is not the case. For example in any nav class the accuracy issues with GPS are always fully covered. Equally using any position finding techniques , of the chart is off all are off.

A sextant is just a position fixing tool., just like a handheld compass. A RDF , a GPS. Prudent mariners understand eachs limitations. Imprudent mariners will mis-use any device.

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Old 22-11-2012, 06:32   #206
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Re: Poll-Blue water. Is a Sextant Necessary?

DAve,

I've never taken a nav class in the US. But Bowditch practically wrote the first Practical American Navigator. If you're going to teach navigation some background/history is important. I realize that celestial nav. is not taught anymore unless you are going for at Yachtmaster or something similar, but even coastal nab using paper charts etc. probably needs to at least mention Bowditch.

And on a cruisers forum (cruisers - oceans - get it?) I would certainly expect everyone to have at least heard of Bowditch.

Oh well, I'm just an old fart. I still use my sextant, and I used to be able to use a slide rule.

The good news is that the above allows me to sit on the pier, pipe in mouth, critiquing all the skippers coming in with words like "in my day, we would have...." and all that good old salt stuff
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Old 22-11-2012, 08:24   #207
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Re: Poll-Blue water. Is a Sextant Necessary?

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If you have never heard of Bowditch, I would question how much you know about navigation.
That's akin to saying that if you have never heard of Galileo and Newton it's questionable whether you know enough about physics to walk. I'm stretching the analogy a lot but you get the idea.

Also there's whole bunch of sailors in Asia and Africa that must be causing you a lot of questions.
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Old 22-11-2012, 08:39   #208
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Re: Poll-Blue water. Is a Sextant Necessary?

I bought a Plath sextant from a German sea captain in 1971 and used it for years. Then along came GPS and the celestial navigation thing took a back seat. About 1993 I took a Captains course and learnt to do celestial with a $15 Cassio calculator. I still have the sextant and I buy the Almanac every year.....but it would take me some time to get back into it.
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Old 22-11-2012, 09:03   #209
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Re: Poll-Blue water. Is a Sextant Necessary?

Adelie,

I would agree with your analogy except, a closer analogy would be to say, unless you have heard of newton, you can't understand physics.

Re: all the poor sailors in asia, africa, europe and oceania, I did say if you learned navigation in an american nav school.

Having said all that, I've heard of Bowditch, but then I'll read almost anything on sailing or navigation.
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Old 22-11-2012, 10:42   #210
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Originally Posted by carstenb
DAve,

I've never taken a nav class in the US. But Bowditch practically wrote the first Practical American Navigator. If you're going to teach navigation some background/history is important. I realize that celestial nav. is not taught anymore unless you are going for at Yachtmaster or something similar, but even coastal nab using paper charts etc. probably needs to at least mention Bowditch.

And on a cruisers forum (cruisers - oceans - get it?) I would certainly expect everyone to have at least heard of Bowditch.

Oh well, I'm just an old fart. I still use my sextant, and I used to be able to use a slide rule.

The good news is that the above allows me to sit on the pier, pipe in mouth, critiquing all the skippers coming in with words like "in my day, we would have...." and all that good old salt stuff
Bowditch is a great time. I have several. The older ones are surprisingly small compared to the modern one. Bowditch now of course contains a lot of non relevant stuff for leisure sailors. But it's an excellent navigation primer and cheap to get of course. There are many other tomes of course. ( especially as the American practical navigator is unheard of this side of the pond ). There are considerably better primers for celestial nav as well too. At the last count I had 15 books on the subject.

Ps carstenb have a go at Lunars. Then you can talk down to the young'uns LOL

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