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Old 12-01-2012, 08:46   #1
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Sextant Choice - Tamaya vs. Astra

I'm in the market for a decent metal sextant and have narrowed my search down to the Astra IIIb and the Tamaya Venus MS-933. Both appear to be good sextants, both aluminum and both seem to have positive feedback from users. I know the Tamayas are a bit older than the Astras, but I'm thinking that condition of the instrument is more important than age.

Other differences that I've found are:

The Venus is slightly smaller (7/8) than the Astra
The Astra has LED illumination, the Venus does not
The Venus has a traditional mirror setup, the Astra can be configured with traditional or whole horizon (the Astra I'm considering is WH)

Price-wise the two I'm considering are almost the same (used from private parties). Per the owners, the Astra has been used for a few years by a knowledgeable user, the Venus has never been to sea and was only purchased/used for learning CN.

I've tried to "plus/minus" each to help decide, but I just haven't been able to decide which way to go. Personally I think I like the idea of starting with a WH mirror and being able to change to traditional later if I want. The illumination also seems nice (but we do have headlamps and flashlights aboard, and it's a moot point for noon shots anyway). Between these two specific instruments, I like the lack of usage wear on the Tamaya over the "used for a few years" of the Astra.

So, any input here? Given good condition and similar pricing, which would you lean toward and why?

Thanks,
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Old 12-01-2012, 09:42   #2
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Re: Sextant Choice: Tamaya vs. Astra

For what it's worth:

I agree that WH is good to start with, and I have a WH Astra IIIb I like and I use.

I have a split mirror Freiberger sextant of mid '70s vintage which I prefer for star sights.

I've never even seen a Tamaya sextant, so I can't comment. I still own a working NC-77 celestial calculator of vintage years, however, and it's been useful to me.
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Old 12-01-2012, 10:20   #3
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Re: Sextant Choice: Tamaya vs. Astra

Have used a friend's IIIb and thought it was a very good instrument for the money. Have NOT used a Tamaya (nor, like S/V Alchemy, ever handled one), so can't make a comparison.
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Old 13-01-2012, 09:56   #4
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Re: Sextant Choice - Tamaya vs. Astra

I have a Tamaya that I like, but I have no clue if it is better or worse than an Astra. If I was in your situation I would research parts and service availability before I made a decision. The very best sextant isnt any good if you break a small part and cant get a replacement.____Grant.
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Old 13-01-2012, 10:28   #5
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Re: Sextant Choice - Tamaya vs. Astra

it is your choice, but in this case i would go for astra
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Old 14-01-2012, 07:29   #6
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Re: Sextant Choice: Tamaya vs. Astra

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Originally Posted by S/V Alchemy View Post
I have a WH Astra IIIb I like and I use.

I have a split mirror Freiberger sextant of mid '70s vintage which I prefer for star sights.
I do agree with the above. I used to own a “tamaya” which was far better than the two other but it had Polaroids filters, a prism telescope and illumination. I bought it in Hong Kong in 1970 and sadly it went down with the boat in 1974.
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Old 14-01-2012, 08:48   #7
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Re: Sextant Choice - Tamaya vs. Astra

A lot of very reasonably priced high quality sextants for sale on EBay.
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Old 14-01-2012, 09:13   #8
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Re: Sextant Choice - Tamaya vs. Astra

I got my Astra new and my Freiberger from another sailor privately. They are both excellent instruments. I took the Astra offshore in '09 on a delivery and everything, including my plot, worked acceptably.

Once I'd figured out my height of eye was higher on a Bristol 45.5 than on a Viking 33, that is.
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Old 23-01-2012, 15:38   #9
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Re: Sextant Choice - Tamaya vs. Astra

Thanks for the input and responses everyone. After pro and conning the issue to death, I finally made my decision and bought a WH Astra today.
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Old 23-01-2012, 16:31   #10
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Re: Sextant Choice - Tamaya vs. Astra

Now the issue is settled with the Astra, if no objections (not hijacking, just sextant discussions) I would like to continue the thread, same topic although a little broader. There is a boat load of very inexpensive metal sextants over in EBay. By inexpensive, I mean under $100! And yes, many are tiny but no all. Does anybody have experience with any of these inexpensive units....I believe most come from India but I could be wrong. Any comments on some of these? Many people have interest in learning to use a sextant or for that matter could use one as a backup but cannot afford big bucks for something with pedigree papers.

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Old 23-01-2012, 16:50   #11
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Re: Sextant Choice - Tamaya vs. Astra

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Originally Posted by foggysail View Post
Now the issue is settled with the Astra, if no objections (not hijacking, just sextant discussions) I would like to continue the thread, same topic although a little broader. There is a boat load of very inexpensive metal sextants over in EBay. By inexpensive, I mean under $100! And yes, many are tiny but no all. Does anybody have experience with any of these inexpensive units....I believe most come from India but I could be wrong. Any comments on some of these? Many people have interest in learning to use a sextant or for that matter could use one as a backup but cannot afford big bucks for something with pedigree papers.

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pure Junk foggy. junk. A sextant is a precision instrument with close tolerances and requires accuracy of build. if you want a cheap learner model, buy a plastic sextant.

I own a Astra IIIB , I like it, Id have bought a Freiberger but too expensive. Ensure any second hand sextant does have the frame out of alignment as a result of being dropped.
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Old 23-01-2012, 16:56   #12
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Re: Sextant Choice - Tamaya vs. Astra

Foggysail, those are the sort of "instruments" you hang over the YC bar. They are largely decorative, although C. Columbus might have found a use for them.

There are very few cheap sextants on eBay. You will very, very occasionally find an old model at a garage sale or yard sale if an old sailor has passed on and the grandkids don't have a clue, but that's a long shot. I've been looking for a ship's clock (preferably the 24 hour style with an eight-day windup) for some time. I can get one for retail, sure, but who wants to pay retail?
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Old 23-01-2012, 17:05   #13
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Re: Sextant Choice - Tamaya vs. Astra

You're right Dave, who wants to pay retail! Thanks for responding to my question--

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