you need it all electronics will fail. murphy has proved that. Get a good metal sextant not a plastic they take too much adjustments and practice. There is a great joy in finding your way to a distant landfall using celestial navigation.
CELESTIAL IS A GREAT MENTAL STIMULUS AND AFTER YOU LEARN SOME OF THE BASICS AND PLOT YOUR FIRST NOON OBSERVATION AND REALIZE THAT IT IS CORRECT--WHAT A GREAT SENSE OF ACCOMPLISHMENT. AND BY THE WAY ELECTRONICS DO FAIL. CELESTAIRE is a great source for everything you will need including instruments and plotting sheets as well as almanacs and publications. Try it, you will like it.
All you nay sayers of electronics need to read Webb chiles article in SAIL MAG 2001. If your so desperate and can''t figure out a compass and in a life raft who cares, I''d throw overboard all but a pint of fresh water and six saltines for two thousand dollars of good electronics in any sitituation.
I''m not so sure I buy the part about metal v. plastic sextants, though I realize it is the common wisdom. You ought to check the calibration on any sextant before you try to take a shot, no? How much can the material expand/contract if you take your shot within a few minutes of correcting? I have a Davis Mk something (the one with the beam converger) and can shoot a sun/moon fix within a minute of arc, using the GPS as a reference. I do agree that I want my electronics aboard as well; no substitute for a Celesticomp! ;-)
Navigation is a blend of science and art.
I love my electronics but!!!!!!!!
I still use paper charts and can work an accurate fix with a sextant.
Utilise all available means to know where you are, at all times as the sea is an unforgiving mistress.
A sextant is a valuable tool for coastal sailing as well,ie horizontal fixes from known objects from the shore .
If you can add subtract and tell the time then celestial is easy to master.
I find celestial navigation enhances the enjoyment of sailing.
Ther are some excellent books on the subject I would strongly recommend "Celestial Navigation for Yachtsmen" by Mary Blewitt.
Sorry to intrude into the message board with this but I have a Full sized Tamaya Marine Sextant available for sale for a no haggle price of $350 + $15 shipping, proceeds to benefit my 4 year old grandson with leukemia.
This Tamaya Sextant is in excellent condition and comes in a wooden box with catch. Model or year is unknown, OSAKA~TAMAYA is engraved on right end of arc and No 705636 is engraved on left side. There are three each filters for the square horizon mirror, four each filters for the index mirror and one additional eyepiece filter is provided for the scope.
I can be reached by email to: [email protected] and also at my homeport of http://www.fullkeel.com
One final thought. In addition to all the practical reasons, it just feels good to lay out a little "cocked hat" on the chart and be able to say "Wow, I did that". It just a good feeling to able to do anything really well, especially when that thing is something that could save your boat, or life, or both.
I'm currently reading Maiden Voyage by Tania Aebi, and the troubles she had with the plastic sextant being out of calibration. I don't know how to use one, but I hope to learn. I think it would be interesting.
When I began using celestial navigation, it was still the only dependable way to navigate offshore. On my first trip across the Pacific in 1969, it allowed me to accurately and confidently make all my landfalls.
By the early 70s, Loran was coming in, but its initial coverage was limited to a few hundred miles offshore and the receivers were huge, expensive and impractical for small craft. I continued to rely on celestial, and in fair weather, my sun-run-merpass-run-sun gave me very dependable fixes. The need to shoot morning or evening stars came only when it was impossible to get a couple of sunshots during the day, but I did them anyway, not just for the practice, but for the sheer joy of it. I continue to practice this wonderful art.
When I head out next summer, my two chart plotters and my two hand-held GPS units will be backed-up by a full complement of paper charts, a library of pilots and a sextant. Similarly, the Starpilot software in my computer and in my TI-T89 will be backed-up by almanac and sight reduction tables. I look forward to once again tuning-in to the progression of the celestial bodies.
Someone mentioned a book to learn this fine art, but is it better to learn something like this in a classroom? If so, are there any classes still teaching how to use a sextant? I have seen class on how to use a GPS but not a sextant.