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Old 02-17-2002
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Researching Sextants

I am looking for an informational book about a ship's sextant. I would like to know how to use one as well as purchase one. Can you help?

Sue & Larry respond:
Itís nice to hear that someone is still interested in navigating with a sextant. These useful devices have taken men around the world for hundreds of years. Ernest Shackletonís navigator from Endurance was so proficient with his sextant in 1916 that he guided two small sail-rigged lifeboats from the frozen pack ice of the Antarctic to safety on Elephant Island, then on to the Island of South Georgia. If you havenít already read the book Endurance by Alfred Lansing, itís an incredible tale of true grit taken from true life.

A book that covers all the basics and even has a section on how to buy a sextant is, The Sextant Handbook by Bruce Bauer. This is available through for $12.96. Sextants range greatly in price from under $100 to several thousand dollars. You might want to start out with an affordably priced model, several of which are available at the SailNet Store.

You might also want to check out the numerous articles about sextant that Jim Sexton has written here on SailNet. One in particular is Calibrating a Sextant.

Happy navigating.

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