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Old 24-11-2012, 00:04   #16
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Re: Advice Request; Which Sextant To Buy??

Unless you can score a Plath or a Freiberger cheaply on eBay or from the estate of a former sailor, I vote with others for the Astra IIIB. It's modern, lightweight (relatively) and I've found it easy to use.

Having a current almanac, the supplemental tables and a sextant will make a CN class that much easier.

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Old 08-01-2013, 18:49   #17
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Re: Advice Request; Which Sextant To Buy??

If you can find a bubble sextant from a WW2 airplane, they work great. I knew a guy who crossed the Atlantic more than 6 times. He had a Plath sextant, that he left home on the mantle, and took his WW2 bubble sextant.
Years ago I traded some gear for one and it worked fine. You can use the bubble feature for practice, where there is no horizon, or switch it out, with a lever, and use the horizon.
The one I had was a Navy mark 5
They also take up less storage space.
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Old 08-01-2013, 18:51   #18
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Astra 3B. If just for practice then a plastic sextant will do. I always try to avoid second hand sextants as it can be hard to verify if the frame isn't bent

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Old 08-01-2013, 19:09   #19
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Re: Advice Request; Which Sextant To Buy??

Buy yourself a good old wwll navy sextant - then when you get tired of playing with it, you'll have a quality antique to put on display in your den.
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Old 09-01-2013, 16:32   #20
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After learning to manage a basic noon site and Polaris site on a used $20 Davis plastic and knowing that I'd be comfortable with a sextant I found a 7/8ths Tamaya aluminum on CL for $340. Bought it from a sailor who had been navigator on 9 Transpacs. The case was beat to hell because he was always having to jam it into tight little spaces on spartan boats and some of the paint was off the sextant itself but when I did a basic accuracy check lining up the horizon lines on the split lens it was spot on zero. The documentation in the box puts the non-adjustable error at 0.2 @30 degrees and 0.3 @ 75 and 90 degrees.
I got my loose grasp on the whole business by reading Hiscococks instructions in Voyaging Under Sail and a book called Celestial Navigation for the Clueless. I still need a class though so will be looking out for one that is taught up in Marina Del Rey through one of the yacht clubs. As the seller told me, "Take the class then use the instrument at least once a month from the beach if you are not getting out enough."
GPS has really been helpful for instant checks on my accuracy (more or less) when out on the boat. PITA trying to nail a sight from the boat for now. The seller told me that is why he switched from his old Plath to the lighter 7/8ths Tamaya.
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Old 09-01-2013, 18:00   #21
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Re: Advice Request; Which Sextant To Buy??

Quote:
at least once a month from the beach if you are not getting out enough.
That's really good advice, and it is what I do whenever I get the chance. It's good practice, even if not quite the same as doing it from a boat.
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Old 09-01-2013, 18:23   #22
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What about Benzara brass sextant? I have seen price ranging from 25$ to 86$ !!! Bras and in a wooden box? Are they any good?

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Old 09-01-2013, 18:39   #23
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Re: Advice Request; Which Sextant To Buy??

It can't hurt to get a plastic sextant to start with; if you enjoy the process and graduate to a metal one, you'll still have a good spare, one to let beginners try out without needing to hover anxiously at their shoulder.... and you'll get an extra lift from the enhanced stability and pride of ownership when you do upgrade.

... At which time you'll be better equipped to look after it: handling a sextant in rough weather without damaging it is not a trivial skill-set, so it's best acquired with one which is more at the disposable end of the spectrum (and which, due to lightness, is possibly less likely to do damage, even to itself, if it breaks free)

If you don't enjoy it as much as you expected, you can still keep the plastic one for emergencies without becoming yet another yacht with a completely unused beautiful sextant taking up space in a drawer somewhere...
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Old 09-01-2013, 19:04   #24
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Re: Advice Request; Which Sextant To Buy??

Mitch, are you bedridden or can you try to track down some sextant users (possibly at a seaport museum or planetarium) in your area?

I ask because every one of them has quirks and they go unmentioned but make a difference in what you may or may not fall in love with.

For instance, the telescope. On a Frieberger the rear optic stays fixed, and the front part rotates to focus. So if you rotate the sextant a bit, trying to get it level while your eye is on the scope, nothing happens. But on an expensive Cassens & Plath, the rear element rotates--so it goes out of focus when you rotate it while your eye is on it. Duh?

Then there are the mirrors and attachments themselves. On the C&P Horizon Ultra, one mirror has a slight green cast, the other a slight red cast. In daylight you can't see this, but if you are doing a star sight, the star "pops" into white when the two halves are precisely aligned, making the alignment much simpler and sharper. I've never seen that documented or mentioned, just noticed the color pop. I have no idea if any of the other C&P's do this, or any of their clones.

Not that any of that kind of stuff would be a deal-breaker, but it is interesting to lay hands on them and see what isn't mentioned in the catalogues.
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Old 09-01-2013, 19:13   #25
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Re: Advice Request; Which Sextant To Buy??

Benzara brass sextants are pretty much a decorative novelty. While functional, they are not properly calibrated and not intended for navigation. I believe Stanely of London (which once upon a time actually did sell the real thing a century ago) offers them for sale.

Our Full Line of Brass Sextants, from Stanley London.
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Old 09-01-2013, 19:26   #26
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Re: Advice Request; Which Sextant To Buy??

I'd vote for a Plath... my mother gave me one for my birthday 50 odd years ago and I still use it on occasion. Bought myself a cheapy plastic I think it was a Plastimo (sp?) because I was a little intimidated by the Plath, all new and brassy and shiny. Still remember my first noon sight in my class in Vancouver. We were standing on the sand on English Bay, took our sight, got out the tables and did a little math and was amazed to find I was just south of Calgary, Alberta! Improved a bit since then, I hope!! Phil
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Old 12-01-2013, 09:51   #27
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Re: Advice Request; Which Sextant To Buy??

I would agree with Andrew Troup to buy a plastic sextant before commiting to a more expensive instrument. I learned on a Mark 25 and still use it today.It is lighter and easier to swing than a metal sextant and that will defintely aid a beginner. I am usually within 1 nm of my actual GPS position and have never had any warping problems or inaccuracies so often quoted in discussions about sextants. A sextant today is really more of a piece of nautical history than a necessary tool for most cruisers. It is strictly an offshore instrument that, in a worst case scenario, will get you from point A to B with reasonable accuracy. And, unless you use a computer to configure your sight reductions, you need to practice daily with your sight tables and math to be reasonably accurate. Most cruisers that buy a sextant will never use it regularly if at all. But, its a great mental discipline and a throwback to "days of old."
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Old 12-01-2013, 12:49   #28
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Re: Advice Request; Which Sextant To Buy??

I've had many different Davis sextants over the years and if you adjust them as recommended each time you use them they work great. My Astra IIIB is a very good sextant. I've used a Freiberger but prefer my Astra.
If you are just learning and want to save a bit of cash I'd get a Mark 15 or 25 by Davis. They work very well and you can replace the mirrors via the Davis company if you happen to buy a used one very cheap and the mirrors have degraded. In this case, eBay and craigslist are your friends.
kind regards,
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Old 12-01-2013, 14:18   #29
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Re: Advice Request; Which Sextant To Buy??

Further thought on plastic: the problem of lack of rigidity of the frame is not a problem during a given session, it's a problem over the long term. Hence the need referred to by others to adjust frequently, in fact before every session.

However this is actually a good thing when you're starting out, as you get very quick at it through practice, and are more likely to remember the procedure after a long period of celestial position-fixing inaction. The procedure is essentially much the same for almost any sextant - at least, the ones I've used.

The Davis sextant adjusting screws do not tend to wear out through constant use, which can be a consideration with some metal sextants depending on material of the female thread.
However, as their stability makes frequent adjustment unnecessary, this does not tend to be a problem either.
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Old 12-01-2013, 20:07   #30
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I have a C and P and a Tamaya which i recently had overhauled. I also have experience with the plastic Davis instrument. The C and P is the best, but also more $$$. All work well with practice. The Plath has such outstanding optics though that it's my hands down favorite. Whichever you choose, make sure you kepp them in their case as dropping one or having it fall for even a short distance can throw them off or cause misalignment of the scope, horizon, and index mirrors.
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