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  • celestial navigation books?

    hi guys,
    i am phase 1 cadet and quiet interested in cel nav (belive it or not) my favorite subject so far, its amazing that you can navigate and fix your position with nothing but a sextant and an almanac cant wait to learn more on phase 3 can anyone recommend me a good book on cel nav i have already checked the forum and find a thread ( your input needed: books) about books but nothing on cel nav also how much is a half decent sextant cost? anywhere where i can pick up a cheap sextant? or anyone selling one? thanks in advance

  • #2
    Originally posted by halflife View Post
    its amazing that you can navigate and fix your position with nothing but a sextant and an almanac
    Along with hours of weeping over pages of numbers trying to figure out why your fix doesn't work out...

    Why do you want to get a sextant really? seriously, it's a massively bulky item to add to your luggage, the ships you sail on will have one somewhere (although whether anyone knows where it is is a different question) and you'll never use it on land. (unless you're into measuring the height of tall buildings) If you really feel you need one, try ebay, but remember as with most things in life cheap = [email protected]

    As for books, your college notes will probably be some of the easiest to understand. The back of the Nautical Almanac actually has some pretty comprehensive notes too.

    My advice though, is concentrate on the stuff you're supposed to be doing at college now, don't try and run before you can walk. When you join your first ship, you're very unlikely to be on watches, you'll be out on deck chipping and painting. When you do get to the bridge, you've a one in three chance of being on the right watch to catch twilight, so start with compass errors, get to know the night sky a bit and start working out how to use the sight reduction tables/star finder. Then start thinking about shooting some stars with a sextant.

    Size4riggerboots

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    • #3
      Originally posted by halflife View Post
      hi guys,
      i am phase 1 cadet and quiet interested in cel nav (belive it or not) my favorite subject so far, its amazing that you can navigate and fix your position with nothing but a sextant and an almanac cant wait to learn more on phase 3 can anyone recommend me a good book on cel nav i have already checked the forum and find a thread ( your input needed: books) about books but nothing on cel nav also how much is a half decent sextant cost? anywhere where i can pick up a cheap sextant? or anyone selling one? thanks in advance
      You missed out the most important thing - The Chronometer. Until accurate time at sea could be ascertained then longitude was more of jiggery pokery than a science. John Harrison spent nearly his whole life trying to get it right.

      As to sextants, as S4R says it is not necessary to own your own and ? does equal quality. Expect to pay well over ?700 for a good one - go German / Swiss if you really want the best but remember that a good sextant that is 50 years old may still be naff if it has been dropped and has not been recalibrated.

      However even the best sextant is no replacement for accuracy in sight taking. My first sight that actually gave a result was a cocked hat 50 nautical miles across! Until you get your eye in then you will be stood on the bridge wing in twilight saying "what stars, I can't see them"

      I'll tell you what used to make me weep - preworking stars for an hour only to find it clouded over at twilight!

      One other use at sea. Measuring the height and width and length of an iceberg to calculate it's volume. Weird.

      As S4R says, give it time, but I know what you mean, I loved celestial nav.

      Ian
      "Any damn fool can navigate the world sober. It takes a really good sailor to do it drunk." - Sir Francis Chichester.
      "Waves are not measured in feet or inches, they are measured in increments of fear." - Buzzy Trent

      "Careers at Sea" Ambassador - Experience of General Cargo, Combo ships, Tanker, Product Carrier, Gas Carrier, Ro-Ro, Reefer Container, Anchor Handlers.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Hatchorder View Post

        I'll tell you what used to make me weep - preworking stars for an hour only to find it clouded over at twilight!

        Ian
        So many times!!

        Size4riggerboots

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        • #5
          Originally posted by size4riggerboots View Post
          and you'll never use it on land. (unless you're into measuring the height of tall buildings)
          You can use a bubble sextant for land navigation. Handy for crossing featureless deserts and such.

          ISTR that AncientMariner started a thread on sextants that the OP might find useful, and may have something on his blog too.

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          • #6
            you can buy a mini one off of amazon

            http://www.amazon.co.uk/German-Brass...4654714&sr=8-1

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            • #7
              With regards purchasing a sextant, here is a list of suitable sextants on the market ranging in price from 45 to 1175 pounds.




              Here is a blog entry I made which might help with choosing a sextant.

              http://www.zenithocean.com/celestial...ing-a-sextant/


              Personally, depending which college your at, I'd recommend using their notes as they tend to be the most up to date and simple methods and descriptions. However I also recommend ''Practical Celestial Navigation" by Susan Howell. It's very detailed with worked examples. However some of the methods and abbreviations are different to whats taught in the UK colleges, but once you get your head around that its fine.

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              • #8
                A book I found really useful was actually written for WAFIs. It made everything really simple to understand, explanations and all, and the WAFI bits offer some amusement to potentially dull paragraphs, regardless of the fact they were written in all seriousness. :P

                http://www.amazon.co.uk/Celestial-Na.../dp/0470666331

                I basically taught myself Celestial Nav from this book during phase 4, having not looked at the subject since passing my exam in phase 1.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Flaw View Post
                  A book I found really useful was actually written for WAFIs. It made everything really simple to understand, explanations and all, and the WAFI bits offer some amusement to potentially dull paragraphs, regardless of the fact they were written in all seriousness. :P

                  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Celestial-Na.../dp/0470666331

                  I basically taught myself Celestial Nav from this book during phase 4, having not looked at the subject since passing my exam in phase 1.
                  I think you are being a little rude about Tom Cunliffe.

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                  • #10
                    Not really. WAFI is a generally used term, some paragraphs about celestial navigation will unavoidably be dull, and I happened to find the thought of a sailor lying down, in a scupper, on a yacht with a sextant fairly amusing. Have I missed anything?

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                    • #11
                      Well the FI stands for ****ing idiot, hardly a polite term. And the guy was actually a merchant seaman.

                      And I'm not sure whats funny about it really. Just highlights the lengths people had to go to get a fix before GPS.

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                      • #12
                        I also said "written for" and not "written by". My, you are touchy.

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