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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Learning to Sail
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  #1  
Old 08-13-2002
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Starter Sextant?

I want to learn Celestial Navigation. Would someone make a few suggestions on starter gear? I dont want to spend a heap of money but I heard some pretty poor reviews of cheap plasict sextants.
Thanks for any help,
CaptGentry
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Old 08-13-2002
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Starter Sextant?

I''ve taken and plotted sights on trips to Bermuda and Transatlantic. There''s a lot of art and judgement involved. Any sextant is going to have some error in it. The cheapest crummiest plastic one you can buy is likely more exact than what Columbus used - and he kept returning to the same spots on both ends of his trips. Until I was good enough to really notice and calculate the difference, I''d learn on a plastic one. They''re lighter and easier to handle than the metal ones, so your results might even be more accurate! If I had an extra $100 and a usable horizon, (I sail Long Island Sound, mostly, so there really isn''t much useable horizon) I''d go for one of the nicer plastic ones that look official but don''t cost $1,000. For $1000 you can get three GPS receivers and plot the different positions of the bow, stern, and amidships of your boat without having to calculate anything.
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Old 08-14-2002
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Starter Sextant?

There are plastic sextants for as little as $25. Davis-Mark makes some decent plastic units for less than $100.

If you don''t mind waiting and playing the auction game, you may be able to find a decent metal sextant for less than $500. I was able to get a former Soviet Navy sextant for less than $300 - delivered. It has a 8X scope which can be reduced to 4X by removing the middle lens.

Good luck and Happy sails to you ~ _/) ~
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Old 10-01-2006
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sailaway21 is just really nice sailaway21 is just really nice sailaway21 is just really nice sailaway21 is just really nice
Starter sextant?

If you just want to dink around with it (a few hours of practise) get a cheapie plastic one. If you actually want something that will allow you to navigate get a good one. Tamaya and Plath are two good brands. You'll pay more for the Plath name. Disregard previous advise based on weight. You want a heavier sextant. I used mine for over twenty years and I know. If you can buy one from a merchant mariner, such as myself, you'll probably get one in good condition. He respects it for the tool it is and has taken good care of it-sort of like your mechanic does with his Snap-on tools. Guy
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Old 10-01-2006
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Apparently, budget is not an issue for sailaway21. I'd recommend the Astra IIB, over either the Tayama or Plath, as it is about a quarter of the price or less of either. Plastic ones can be a lot of trouble unless they are seriously coddled. A heavier one is easier to hold steady, as it has more inertia, but is more tiring to use.
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Old 10-02-2006
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There are a couple of sextants for sale on e-Bay. There is one from Karl Zeiss from 1983 in the UK currently going for about £200 (just under $400). I don't know how good they are, but Zeiss is know for good optics in other arenas (cameras, microscopes, etc.)
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Old 10-03-2006
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I hope this guy has figured out where he is. It didn't take Columbus 4 years to make his first trip. Why do you guys dredge up this stuff ?
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Old 10-03-2006
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Smile Columbus' sextant?

Hey Paulk,
Columbus didn't have sextant. He probably did have an astrolabe and/or a quadrant. With either of those he could have determined latitude and therefore engaged in parallel sailing,ie...sailing along a line of latitude. Longitude was indeterminable until the invention of an accurate timepiece. The sextant is believed to have been invented by Sir Issac Newton, circa 1700. Just keeping you on your toes!

Guy
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Old 10-04-2006
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Sailaway...Columbus got his mail every 3 years or so too...just like your reply to the sextant question from 2002!
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Old 10-12-2006
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I received a Davies Mark 3 sextant for Christmas last year, but I was incredibly frustrated in learning to use it, despite having 5 books from the library. I ended up writing my own step-by-step guide. It has been downloaded many hundreds of times on SA. I'd be happy to e-mail it to anyone who is interested. Drop me a note at FoolishMuse - at - aol.com

Andy Evans
Olson 30 "Foolish Muse"
Victoria, Canada
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