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View Poll Results: Keeping celestial nav skills alive
Never learned, too many sight reduction books to haul around 12 26.67%
Learned, but no longer practice 17 37.78%
Learned, practice every chance for that perfect pin wheel 16 35.56%
Voters: 45. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 25-02-2012, 16:08   #31
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Originally Posted by jacob30
Can someone reccomend a good learning sextant. I have seen the astra III and the Davis. Are these ok? Who has one and what do you think?
The plastic one is just fine.

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Old 25-02-2012, 16:54   #32
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Re: Who Still Practices Celestial Navigation ?

I have a sextant, and am almost proficiant in its use....but of course I have GPS aboard. You can never be too prepared for what can happen away from the perceived safety of land, and personally think a sextant is a useful addition to navigation used alone or in conjunction with GPS.
It is all too easy to push a button to find out where you are...what if the button stops working one day for some reason... ?
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Old 25-02-2012, 18:09   #33
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Re: Who Still Practices Celestial Navigation ?

About three years ago, after two circumnavigations using only celestial navigation, we decided to try out GPS on a passage from Ventura, California, through the Line Islands then south to New Zealand. We had a handheld GPS we'd been using as speedos on the 115 year old race boat we were at that time, racing during New Zealand summers so we took it with us when we flew north to prepare Taleisin for the voyage. We continued to take sextant sights along the way and friends who perused our logbook recently had a laugh when they read “took round of sights to confirm GPS position”.



Here is what we wrote about the expereince soon after arriving in New Zealand.


After about 180,000 miles and 42 years of sailing without GPS, what was our reaction? Disappointment in some ways. We missed the special routine navigating with a sextant creates. We missed the fun of trying to guess our days run before Larry plotted the daily noon sight. We missed the reason to be out on deck waiting to catch a shot of the sun between banks of clouds and the mind exercise of pre-computing star sights. But most of all we both commented on missing the anticipation, the special joy of seeing an island or headland come clear on the horizon just when we (fingers crossed at times) expected it to. On the other hand we appreciated the almost instant warning that there was a very strong current setting to the northwest when we were 100 miles out on our approach to Kiritimati. This let us alter course early so instead of running wing and wing we went onto a reach and lay into the island without ever having to go to windward. Previously, when we sailed through tropical waters and approached atolls such as Kiritimati, we spent a lot of time taking twice nightly star sights, moon sights and extra sun sights to keep track of the currents.

Did the GPS make us feel safer? In a small way it did the opposite. Now we had to remind ourselves that the ease of finding our position could lure us into cutting corners as we passed headlands or reefs, or entering new anchorages at night rather than heaving to to wait for daylight. But then the opening page on the GPS says it all – Warning! All data is presented for reference only. You assume total responsibility and risk associated with using this devise.
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Old 25-02-2012, 18:51   #34
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Re: Who Still Practices Celestial Navigation ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lin Pardey View Post
About three years ago, after two circumnavigations using only celestial navigation, we decided to try out GPS on a passage from Ventura, California, through the Line Islands then south to New Zealand. We had a handheld GPS we'd been using as speedos on the 115 year old race boat we were at that time, racing during New Zealand summers so we took it with us when we flew north to prepare Taleisin for the voyage. We continued to take sextant sights along the way and friends who perused our logbook recently had a laugh when they read “took round of sights to confirm GPS position”.



Here is what we wrote about the expereince soon after arriving in New Zealand.


After about 180,000 miles and 42 years of sailing without GPS, what was our reaction? Disappointment in some ways. We missed the special routine navigating with a sextant creates. We missed the fun of trying to guess our days run before Larry plotted the daily noon sight. We missed the reason to be out on deck waiting to catch a shot of the sun between banks of clouds and the mind exercise of pre-computing star sights. But most of all we both commented on missing the anticipation, the special joy of seeing an island or headland come clear on the horizon just when we (fingers crossed at times) expected it to. On the other hand we appreciated the almost instant warning that there was a very strong current setting to the northwest when we were 100 miles out on our approach to Kiritimati. This let us alter course early so instead of running wing and wing we went onto a reach and lay into the island without ever having to go to windward. Previously, when we sailed through tropical waters and approached atolls such as Kiritimati, we spent a lot of time taking twice nightly star sights, moon sights and extra sun sights to keep track of the currents.

Did the GPS make us feel safer? In a small way it did the opposite. Now we had to remind ourselves that the ease of finding our position could lure us into cutting corners as we passed headlands or reefs, or entering new anchorages at night rather than heaving to to wait for daylight. But then the opening page on the GPS says it all – Warning! All data is presented for reference only. You assume total responsibility and risk associated with using this devise.
Thank You.......Michael......
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Old 25-02-2012, 19:56   #35
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Re: Who Still Practices Celestial Navigation ?

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Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post
The plastic one is just fine.

cheers,
Nick.
Yep,
I have the "mark 15" plastic one, it's fine. I also have to give a strong recommendation to this book; Illustrated Navigation by Ivar Dedekam, Dedekam Design - Illustrated Sail & Rig Tuning - Illustrated Navigation
The excellent graphics just make you want to learn stuff right now!
I'm a picture kind of guy, Them words things jus' make my head hurt.


Russ
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Old 25-02-2012, 22:38   #36
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Re: Who Still Practices Celestial Navigation ?

After spending 40 years on the water - 25 up and down the coast from Mexico to AK as a commercial fisherman - I've had just about every kind of electronic device you can dream up crap out on me when I needed it.
To make a long story short - I'm damn glad I learned it the old fashioned way - I've been a little confused a time or two but I've never been lost!
I use my MKll Navy sextant for taking bearings like a hand held compass as well from known objects along shore with a chart and protractor - ''X'' marks the spot!
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Old 26-02-2012, 03:55   #37
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Re: Who Still Practices Celestial Navigation ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoduck View Post
After spending 40 years on the water - 25 up and down the coast from Mexico to AK as a commercial fisherman - I've had just about every kind of electronic device you can dream up crap out on me when I needed it.
To make a long story short - I'm damn glad I learned it the old fashioned way - I've been a little confused a time or two but I've never been lost!
I use my MKll Navy sextant for taking bearings like a hand held compass as well from known objects along shore with a chart and protractor - ''X'' marks the spot!
Wow your hard on Electronics! , I have also been in commercial use for over 20 years non commercial for a total of 47 years and have never once had a failure, perhaps thats rare ?? I have not used a Sextant since my Dad dropped it over board about 30 years ago!- My last systum I bought is the Raymarine E-120 with Radar, Chart, Depth and have about 5000 hours on it in the last 6 years - thats 6 half years - ,no issues-Before that had a Garmin thats still in use on my Trawler since 1991- as long as I take care of the wire connections once in a while all works fine- knock on wood-
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Old 26-02-2012, 07:56   #38
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Re: Who Still Practices Celestial Navigation ?

Although I voted for option 2, I would like to see the option 4 mentioned previously added to the list. I learned, I was proficient at one stage. Have the sextant onboard and although it is gathering dust I try to drag it out every now and then on a nice flat day and take a sight just to remind myself that I can. As the guy who taught me to use it used to say, 'well if you want to be just another button pusher there isn't anything wrong with that but if you want to learn to be a navigator you need to learn what to do when the buttons don't work'. Incidentally that was onboard a large tanker that had its GPS antenna hit by lightning a few months later, surprisingly enough they didn't have a spare or hand-held onboard (it was a large ship, nobody thought we might need a hand-held). Due to purchasing orders and invoicing and a host of other shore side bureaucracy that I don't quite get it took weeks to get the new antenna and then it followed the ship from the Gulf to Singapore arriving in port each time a day or two after the ship sailed. All in all they spent the best part of two months navigating with........ drum roll...... a sextant!
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Old 26-02-2012, 08:28   #39
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Re: Who Still Practices Celestial Navigation ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ram View Post
Wow your hard on Electronics! , I have also been in commercial use for over 20 years non commercial for a total of 47 years and have never once had a failure, perhaps thats rare ?? I have not used a Sextant since my Dad dropped it over board about 30 years ago!- My last systum I bought is the Raymarine E-120 with Radar, Chart, Depth and have about 5000 hours on it in the last 6 years - thats 6 half years - ,no issues-Before that had a Garmin thats still in use on my Trawler since 1991- as long as I take care of the wire connections once in a while all works fine- knock on wood-
You've just been lucky! I've bought 4 radars over the years, a couple of lorans, 3 auto pilots, a bucket full of cb's and vhf's. Of course not all of them failed - just got old and undependable. Except radios! Melted down several of them! Of course fishermen are on the damn things alot - especially while traveling from one fishing hole to the next. They keep us awake while running a 1000 miles to a hot bite!
My sextant is as good as it was when it was made back in 1945. If you take care them, they will last forever - not so with electronics!
I use everything I can get to help navigate but I dont trust anything by itself so I take the average from all of them and so far I havent gone wrong!
Even a sextant can screw you up - just drop one and knock it out of whack and see what happens to you DR LOP!
I love my I-phone - I think it's the best thing since bottled beer! And with the celestial app I just loaded - playing with my sextant is really fun! I dont have to do the math or drag out the books! Either way you look at it, I still love to try to see how close I can get the hard way and gps just confirms that I'm either on the money or I'd better try it again.
I never had time to use a sextant when I was fishing for a living. Now all I do is goof around on the boat, sail as much as I can and playing with my 1940's sextant aboard my 1940's boat seems appropriate. (I even have a Captains Manual from 1941)
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Old 27-02-2012, 17:26   #40
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Re: Who Still Practices Celestial Navigation ?

Oh yeah - my 1940 Walker Log still works just fine (shark hasn't eaten it yet!) AND -I have a lead line - just in case!
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Old 27-02-2012, 17:32   #41
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Re: Who Still Practices Celestial Navigation ?

Interestingly, the folks at Celestaire who sell sextants, say they are selling as many or more than they did before GPS became so affordable. Reason? Folks are discovering celestial navigation is interesting, rewarding and downright fun. Also could come in useful as Ianhef shows.
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Old 27-02-2012, 18:44   #42
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Re: Who Still Practices Celestial Navigation ?

I just discovered that you can load a google app on your 'droid to show you the stars, planets and constalations. It looks like a good way to teach you to identify the stars. That has always been my bugaboo about learining. Don't have one yet but plan to before we go blue-water. I also agree on keeping a spare hand-held on board.
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Old 27-02-2012, 21:04   #43
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Re: Who Still Practices Celestial Navigation ?

Sounds like Guuieduck and I do the same things ! LOL still do noon sites and sometimes even a star shot, use a taff log, and carry a lead line, with a wax bottom LOL and even use em a lot! also have a hand held GPS, and use that ! and of course the wife has her laptop with the Capt software and Charts, that I look at also! ya can't have to many ways to find your way home !! I just like the old stuff I guess because its what I learned as a young man ! and has worked for over 50 yrs !! LOL Just my 2 cents Bob and Connie
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Old 27-02-2012, 21:39   #44
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Re: Who Still Practices Celestial Navigation ?

As well as the taff rail log, I do have a lead as well. I use tallow in the hollow instead of wax
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Old 27-02-2012, 21:41   #45
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Re: Who Still Practices Celestial Navigation ?

Sailed as third and second officer on ships before there were SatNav or GPS. Had no problem knowing where we were at at anytime.
Though I use a GPS today... have had three of them go belly up on me...So I used coastal Navigation when near land and Celestial far out at sea... No Problem.

Also when you are at sea, you can't get lost! Go either East or West and you'll come to land. Just that it is farther in one direction then the other.
Go North or South... You'll come to land but it will be much much colder. See you are not lost at all.
But when you do see land you will have to Identify the continent and the nation you are coming toward. So make sure your passport is up to date. Modern society demands all sorts of paperwork or else you learn their language the hard way... if you know what I mean.
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