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Old 24-09-2008, 13:42   #1
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Trading my color chart plotter for a sextant

I'm just curious if anyone still uses a sextant to navigate. Please I dont want to hear any personal opinion on safety or how I can buy a cheap one as a back up. I'm just looking for navigators imput.
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Old 24-09-2008, 13:45   #2
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I thought everyone used one?

I plan on using celestial navigation (someday). I'm an amateur astronomer and have a clue, but... never actually used a sextant yet. It's something I'm VERY MUCH looking forward to learning and doing.
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Old 24-09-2008, 13:50   #3
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No, I sold mine a long time ago.
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Old 24-09-2008, 14:36   #4
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Although both my wife and myself have used a sextant for navigating, we now use GPS and a Pc for primary navigation with paper charts as a back-up. Guess we just got lazy, but iti is SO much simpiler!
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Old 24-09-2008, 14:45   #5
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it's the horizon jumping around for the fix that's the hard part!
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Old 24-09-2008, 14:51   #6
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Not me, haven't taken a sight in 20 years.
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Old 24-09-2008, 15:23   #7
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I have one, and plan to take the odd sight in order to keep the hand in,and particularly for something to do when well out of sight of land.
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Old 24-09-2008, 16:22   #8
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I think that the more backups you have before taking off over the horizon, the more likely you are to come back safely. It does not need to be an either or situation. All navigation tools have their distinct advantages and disadvantages. Why not carry as many as what is reasonable?
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Old 24-09-2008, 16:25   #9
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Aloha Pirate,
Answer to your question is no I don't use it for primary navigation but I do break it out once a year and practice. It requires that I also buy a Nautical Almanac (about $30) once a year so I can do the calculations.
My cheapy (under $100) Garmin handheld which I bought from Sean (a forum member) is doing a very good job. All I have to do is have a nice paper chart in front of me and I'm all set.
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Old 24-09-2008, 16:39   #10
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Here is a recent member poll...

celestial navigation
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Old 24-09-2008, 16:52   #11
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A sextant? No, I use GPS and a laptop for primary navigation. Hand held GPS will still work even if your boat is struck by lightning (ask me how I know).

I have a question, why would you consider chucking the chart plotter and regressing to last century's navigation tool of choice? Do you know something about GPS satellites that we don't know? Or isn't it important to actually know exactly where you are?
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Old 24-09-2008, 22:26   #12
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Aloha Dan,
So the results of the poll indicate that folks want to learn it but once they learn they don't keep up their skills. Interesting results. I won't be teaching celestial anymore.
It truly is one of those things that you can't just put away and expect to know how to do after a few years of leaving the sextant in the box.
The last two years I just taught the simplest noon sights just to get folks in to it. After 3 hours of classroom and handling a sextant maybe 10% of the class was getting it. Could be my instructional skills I guess.
When I was learning back in the early 80s I knew that there was no affordable alternative so I really really needed to learn it. Once I got the basics I had to do it pretty often to keep the skills up. That incentive is really no longer there for modern navigators.
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Old 24-09-2008, 22:51   #13
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I still use my sextant, not as a backup to my GPS, but because its satisfying somehow to see how close the GPS can come to the actual position as deterined by celestial observation. Usually, I find, the GPS is pretty darn accurate. However, I also teach a course on the history of navigation, am a maritime museum director, and sail as master in square rigged sailing ships, so I suppose I'm partial to antiquated and obsolete activities.
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Old 24-09-2008, 23:11   #14
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Quote:
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Aloha Dan,
So the results of the poll indicate that folks want to learn it but once they learn they don't keep up their skills. Interesting results.
I'd take the book, the sextant and the chronograph on the boat. If three gpss crap out I reckon I've got weeks of being lost at sea to learn it - LOL. I voted that I'd like to learn but didn't think it a critical skill any more.

Flying is the same way - A/N gave way to ADF, gave way to VOR, gve way to Loran, gave way to GPS, gave way to moving map GPS.

Now everyone follows a little pink line.
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Old 25-09-2008, 03:06   #15
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The centre fold almanac.

I wonder if there is that much difference between using a GPS and using a sextant to navigate .

I used to buy an almanac, take some observations of some heavenly bodies, check the time and work out where I was.

Now I turn my GPS on, it downloads an almanac, takes some observations of some heavenly bodies, checks the time and works out where I am.

Since it uses a different almanac and different heavenly bodies and since it is much much quicker than I was, I think it is alright for me to use that time it saves to get another almanac and observe other heavenly bodies.

And yes, I mainly just read the articles
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