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Old 15-01-2020, 16:09   #1
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Sextant - Aluminum or Brass

Hey all,

11 months of boat projects should be coming to a close in March, culminating in a sail out the Golden Gate and southwards - likely single-handed. These next two months will be intense. I've put in notice at the job, and will be into boat work full-time come February.

I've been studying celestial navigation as I've found time throughout the year, and I've bowed to the experts who all insist that a sextant is an essential element in the endeavor. Scouring the e-Bays and all of Craig's lists hasn't turned up much, and I'm a bit wary of making a purchase that has lost its calibration. I figured there may be a sailor on here who has no further use for his/her instrument, and would prefer to see it sold to someone who will make active use of it, rather than some antique collector or dabbler.

I've made a few deals with folks on here, and found them always to be honest and genuine. I'll have much more confidence in the accuracy of an instrument purchased through this forum.

The upper limit on the budget is $400, so I'm not expecting a mint Weems and Plath unit.

Cheers,

Adnaan
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Old 15-01-2020, 16:40   #2
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Re: Sextant - Aluminum or Brass

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Originally Posted by Santiano View Post
Hey all,

11 months of boat projects should be coming to a close in March, culminating in a sail out the Golden Gate and southwards - likely single-handed. These next two months will be intense. I've put in notice at the job, and will be into boat work full-time come February.

I've been studying celestial navigation as I've found time throughout the year, and I've bowed to the experts who all insist that a sextant is an essential element in the endeavor. Scouring the e-Bays and all of Craig's lists hasn't turned up much, and I'm a bit wary of making a purchase that has lost its calibration. I figured there may be a sailor on here who has no further use for his/her instrument, and would prefer to see it sold to someone who will make active use of it, rather than some antique collector or dabbler.

I've made a few deals with folks on here, and found them always to be honest and genuine. I'll have much more confidence in the accuracy of an instrument purchased through this forum.

The upper limit on the budget is $400, so I'm not expecting a mint Weems and Plath unit.

Cheers,

Adnaan
Get a DAVIS plastic sextant ...lightweight , cheap, accurate , easy to use

https://www.celestaire.com/product/d...rk-15-sextant/
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Old 15-01-2020, 16:44   #3
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Re: Sextant - Aluminum or Brass

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Originally Posted by slug View Post
Get a DAVIS plastic sextant ...lightweight , cheap, accurate , easy to use

https://www.celestaire.com/product/d...rk-15-sextant/
I'm not generally one to plan more than a few days ahead, but I can say that I'll be sailing for most of my life. I'll also be leaving the States for a long time, and won't have the same ease of access to getting a quality instrument. Plastic isn't going to cut it. Thank you, though.
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Old 15-01-2020, 18:22   #4
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Re: Sextant - Aluminum or Brass

I own (don't tell my wife) six sextants. Four were gifts because other people knew that I actually used a sextant, and I appeared to them, or their heirs, to be a good home for an unused and unwanted instrument. Five are on the closet shelf, and one is on the boat. My advice is to rely on a GPS (or two) and forget the sextant. But if you must, cost aside, my first choice would be an aluminum sextant (Astra or Freiberger Drum or such) and my second would be a Davis 25. Throw cost into the equation, and the Davis wins. For me at 68 and with my less than muscular physique, the bronze sextants are too heavy to hold for any length of time.

The use of a sextant, like traveling in small boats with sails, is a fun hobby, no more, no less. Aboard a small boat GPS will position you within 10 meters, a sextant within 3 miles just as airplanes are both faster, more comfortable, and cheaper than small sailboats.

That said, I carry a sextant on my sailboat although I have never used it for an actual (non-GPS-confirmed) fix. It is infinitely faster and easier to just push the button, and the results are better.

Bill
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Old 16-01-2020, 02:02   #5
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Re: Sextant - Aluminum or Brass

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Originally Posted by wsmurdoch View Post
For me at 68 and with my less than muscular physique, the bronze sextants are too heavy to hold for any length of time.

The use of a sextant, like traveling in small boats with sails, is a fun hobby, no more, no less. Aboard a small boat GPS will position you within 10 meters, a sextant within 3 miles just as airplanes are both faster, more comfortable, and cheaper than small sailboats. Bill
I found it really difficult to hold a sextant still enough whilst lurching around on a small boat at sea. Dead easy on land, mid Atlantic in even moderate conditions is something completely different.

That was when the sun could be seen and not hidden by clouds.

The price of the Davis Mk 15 and 25 has shot up recently, so sold my Mk 15. However, it was much lighter to hold and if the worse was to happen, well there wouldn't be tears unlike dropping an expensive sextant. If I was going to buy another sextant, then it would be plastic again.

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Old 16-01-2020, 02:14   #6
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Re: Sextant - Aluminum or Brass

I had an Alumnium and it was fine. One tip it is much quicker to get a position by bringing the horizon up to the sun, turn the sextant upside down and adjust the shades.
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Old 16-01-2020, 03:33   #7
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Re: Sextant - Aluminum or Brass

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Originally Posted by Pete7 View Post
I found it really difficult to hold a sextant still enough whilst lurching around on a small boat at sea. Dead easy on land, mid Atlantic in even moderate conditions is something completely different.

That was when the sun could be seen and not hidden by clouds.

The price of the Davis Mk 15 and 25 has shot up recently, so sold my Mk 15. However, it was much lighter to hold and if the worse was to happen, well there wouldn't be tears unlike dropping an expensive sextant. If I was going to buy another sextant, then it would be plastic again.

Pete
Yah...small craft and sea water are hard on heavy expensive sextants ..a plastic Davis is very nice to use.

I had ..gave away last year ..a Tamaya Venus sextant . This is a aluminum 3/4 size sextant designed for small craft .

If you must have a metal sextant check out a Venus

https://hydrography.pro/presta17/sex...s-sextant.html
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Old 16-01-2020, 04:39   #8
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Re: Sextant - Aluminum or Brass

Hi Adnaan,
I've sailed a lot in small boats and navigated plenty by sextant, sometime with GPS backup, sometimes not. The problem with a plastic sextant is less the body but the optics--it's in the lenses and mirrors that the herd really separates. The only metal sextant I've ever used is an Astra IIIB. They're still made; there's lots out there; and they're worth the investment. And yes, a sextant is kind of crucial for celestial nav.
I agree with the posters who say it's hard to get a good shot on a pitching boat--it's exceedingly difficult, and you'll throw out a lot of shots as complete duds. But if you keep at it, you'll find that it's perfectly reasonable to navigate that way most of the time. And with enough practice, you'll be able to put yourself within half a mile or better pretty consistently.
What I found with that sort of navigation is that it's a full-time job. Dusk and dawn sights, midmorning and midafternoon fixes, moon shots in the middle of the night, and that DR fix has to be constantly updated and maintained. Speed, course changes, miles run--all that jazz. It's a lot, but it's extremely satisfying, and it's one of the satisfactions I seek for in going to sea.
After all that, though, I rarely travel without a handheld GPS, which can be a real life saver when entering unknown harbors in a pitchy-black night in bad weather.
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Old 16-01-2020, 05:16   #9
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Re: Sextant - Aluminum or Brass

Quote:
Originally Posted by Santiano View Post
Hey all,

11 months of boat projects should be coming to a close in March, culminating in a sail out the Golden Gate and southwards - likely single-handed. These next two months will be intense. I've put in notice at the job, and will be into boat work full-time come February.

I've been studying celestial navigation as I've found time throughout the year, and I've bowed to the experts who all insist that a sextant is an essential element in the endeavor. Scouring the e-Bays and all of Craig's lists hasn't turned up much, and I'm a bit wary of making a purchase that has lost its calibration. I figured there may be a sailor on here who has no further use for his/her instrument, and would prefer to see it sold to someone who will make active use of it, rather than some antique collector or dabbler.

I've made a few deals with folks on here, and found them always to be honest and genuine. I'll have much more confidence in the accuracy of an instrument purchased through this forum.

The upper limit on the budget is $400, so I'm not expecting a mint Weems and Plath unit.

Cheers,

Adnaan
I have rebuilt a Simex (Tamaya), Frieberger, and Davis Mk 15 and 25 sextants. I rebuilt the Davis sextants for World Ocean School scavenging parts from the 5 they gave me plus new mirrors and clamps from Davis to return them 3 in good order. The Simex had polarizing shades which needed a grease that would not creep onto the glass and provided enough resistance so the elements would not move once set. Losoid in Germany makes a grease for microscope focusing elements that is perfect for this. The Simex telescope was also improved by blackening the lens edges and flocking the tube. The Freiberger was a real challenge to properly disassemble and reassemble. The Jena optics are first rate. I would recommend the Simex/Tamaya. As the easiest to service. Any sextant sitting in a box for 25 years will have greased bearings that need cleaning and lubrication. Dont use grease on the worm/rack. Nye has an oil for that and you should wipe it off after applying it. Jojoba oil is also a good choice. Using the app Celestial to get perfect time capture and sight reduction and GPS for my estimated position I was able to attain intercepts of all under 10mi with the Simex. Make sure any one you buy has a calibration card with matching serial numbers. Good chance you can find a neglected but fine instrument. Good luck
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Old 16-01-2020, 05:19   #10
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Re: Sextant - Aluminum or Brass

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Hi Adnaan,
I've sailed a lot in small boats and navigated plenty by sextant, sometime with GPS backup, sometimes not. The problem with a plastic sextant is less the body but the optics--it's in the lenses and mirrors that the herd really separates. The only metal sextant I've ever used is an Astra IIIB. They're still made; there's lots out there; and they're worth the investment. And yes, a sextant is kind of crucial for celestial nav.
I agree with the posters who say it's hard to get a good shot on a pitching boat--it's exceedingly difficult, and you'll throw out a lot of shots as complete duds. But if you keep at it, you'll find that it's perfectly reasonable to navigate that way most of the time. And with enough practice, you'll be able to put yourself within half a mile or better pretty consistently.
What I found with that sort of navigation is that it's a full-time job. Dusk and dawn sights, midmorning and midafternoon fixes, moon shots in the middle of the night, and that DR fix has to be constantly updated and maintained. Speed, course changes, miles run--all that jazz. It's a lot, but it's extremely satisfying, and it's one of the satisfactions I seek for in going to sea.
After all that, though, I rarely travel without a handheld GPS, which can be a real life saver when entering unknown harbors in a pitchy-black night in bad weather.

Sextant work on a small craft is 99 percent sun observations

I rarely ever shoot dawn and dusk

Too much hassle, boat bouncing around, sails in the way ...

Also Remember..sights on a passage are not only performed by you ...your crew are also responsible for keeping up the DR plus making and recording observations.

Its pretty easy to teach a crew how to perform reliable sun shots.
Not so easy for stars.

Complex, heavy , fragile sextants are not needed
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Old 16-01-2020, 10:37   #11
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Re: Sextant - Aluminum or Brass

Mod. I dont know how to properly insert this quote. Sorry!

wsmurdoch
Re: Sextant - Aluminum or Brass
I own (don't tell my wife) six sextants. Four were gifts because other people knew that I actually used a sextant, and I appeared to them, or their heirs, to be a good home for an unused and unwanted instrument. Five are on the closet shelf, and one is on the boat. My advice is to rely on a GPS (or two) and forget the sextant. But if you must, cost aside, my first choice would be an aluminum sextant (Astra or Freiberger Drum or such) and my second would be a Davis 25. Throw cost into the equation, and the Davis wins. For me at 68 and with my less than muscular physique, the bronze sextants are too heavy to hold for any length of time.


Bill,

You own 6 sextants! Wow. Very impressive collection. Im sure youre very fond of each and everyone of them and use them all the time. Oh wait......they sit in your closet, unused. I have a grand idea! One which I would happily do if I was lucky enough to own 6 sextants. Seems the OP is setting off on a grand journey. One that makes all of us envious. Hows about gifting or selling off the brass one that is too heavy for you to use with your 68 year old arms to this lucky chap and bring good cheer to us all. I bet hed be happy to pay the shipping cost. Good karma!

Richie Rich
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Old 16-01-2020, 10:53   #12
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Re: Sextant - Aluminum or Brass

Rbrazil, you just click the "quote" button at the bottom of Bill's post, and it'll do it for you automatically. It shows you the HTML code, as well. I chatted to Bill and he told me that he only has the one metal sextant that he uses on his sailboat. The rest are plastic or aviation sextants.

It's not that I don't appreciate everyone's opinions, but I am set on getting a metal sextant. I'll use it for years and years to come, and plastic won't cut it. I do have several GPSs on board. I want a sextant for the durability, the extra security, the enjoyment, and the challenge. I did ask this in the "buy and sell" section, after all.

An EMP may not be likely, but a knockdown, water damage, lightning strike, dead house bank... all of these could kill my current nav options. Plus all those things I haven't thought of.
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Old 16-01-2020, 10:59   #13
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Re: Sextant - Aluminum or Brass

I have already done the passing on. The ones I have are the ones that remain. I use them when teaching USPS celestial navigation for my local squadron. The inventory is one Freiberger Drum, three Davis Mk 25 or 15, one Davis 5, and a WWII RAF MkIVa aircraft sextant. The brass one was a British Hughes with a silver vernier scale. It is the one that I learned on in the early 1980s.

Bill
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Old 16-01-2020, 11:00   #14
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Re: Sextant - Aluminum or Brass

Here's one from CL in Seattle

https://seattle.craigslist.org/see/b...050785548.html

Make a lower offer?
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Old 16-01-2020, 11:03   #15
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Re: Sextant - Aluminum or Brass

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Here's one from CL in Seattle

https://seattle.craigslist.org/see/b...050785548.html

Make a lower offer?
Thanks Smokey, I'll reach out.
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