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Ever since I was given a nautical sextant by our friend Pete, I have been looking for someone to give me a mini lesson in its operation. While I have come across many people who reportedly had the knowledge, I have never been quite able to pin any of them down so that I could learn the technique myself. When I came across the photo of young Roy with a sextant on Makai’s blog, I knew that yet another opportunity had presented itself. And fortunately for me, Eric was more than happy to spend a bit of time with me to give me that much needed first lesson. Will we be throwing away all of the GPS chartplotters on ZTC? No, not just yet. Being able to fix your position with a sextant is still, in my opinion, a nice nautical skill to have.

This morning we’ll be raising anchor and making way to the USVIs. We have a few friends there that we’re hoping to meet up with. It’s a good thing that we don’t have to rely upon my budding celestial navigation skills to get us there though. If we did, it’s entirely possible that we’d end up in St. Johns, Newfoundland instead of St. Johns, USVI. πŸ™‚


  1. If you make it to STX I can share some great hiking trails with you.

  2. If you are ever able to enter St Johns, NF harbour make sure that you are the first to do so on New Years Day. You will then be crowned Fishing Admiral for the year.

  3. If you need any more help by the time you get back to Grenada, I used to do a fair bit of sextant work in the USN. It would help if you had the Nautical Almanac for 2013 onboard.

  4. Satellites may be shut down “during war or conflict”.
    Luckily there are several systems

    I’ve read several blogs and quite few mention use of sextants. Lars HΓ€ssler/s/y Jennifer wrote that his sextant keeps getting buried deeper and deeper into his boat.

    I find the starry sky quite romantic and there is some nostalgia and appreciation to old seamanship to get ‘how it’s done’. Many sailing books from the 60-80’s talk about these measurements done on the way. One told about forgetting his sextant to another boat and having to navigate only by relying on his countings on dead reckoning.

    Nice program to eg. look how the sky should look like next evening

    The navigation school here organizes an offshore course every winter which emphasizes on celestial navigation. I have participated three hours every Wednesday evening. Next week we have scheduled three evenings in hope to have weather to have “hands on” practice measuring moon and stars in the dusk. I wish it will be warmer than today.

  5. Hi guys!
    I follow another blog of an older Italian couple who have sailed around the world about 8 times… and in a book they wrote, they tell about there experience in using a sextant. They first sailed to an island of the west coast of Italy, so they physically knew where they were, and took reading from sun up to noon.
    It took them about 2 weeks to finally pinpoint their location within about 5 k… plenty of accuracy on the water… but their FIRST reading placed them in the middle of continental Africa!
    I agree… reading of a sextant could, after all S**T has hit the fan, be a lifesaver!

  6. You can have fun with the sextant. It can be useful for measuring angles. Even more useful for establishing the ‘distance off’ a landmark of given height, or measuring its height if you have your position. Check your almanac, it will have the table there and save you the trigonometry.

    You may find that position fixing is “interesting” around there. The fix is not precise, you end up with a ‘cocked hat’, ie a triangle, in which you are probably placed. The accuracy of this can be within a few miles. Not good for navigation in reef strewn waters and amongst coral heads. One reason of course why there are so many old wrecks.

    Have fun with it πŸ™‚


  7. Interesting! I once helped a friend sail from Fiji to the Bay of Islands (N.Z) in 1981, I had no experience in cruising let alone navigating. So being just the two of us on board I felt it very inportant to learn ( in a hurry) all I could about navigating in case of an emergency. I was only 21 and not great in math skills. So It took me nearly the whole passage (21 days) to figure it out. So I would think anybody doing a passage across the oceans, would fell more comfortable knowing how to (just in case) shit happends.

  8. HI guys, Noticed that you said ,you learned to take Noon sights, in addition, to LAN sights(noon sights), you may wanto to learn or brush up, on Latitude by POLARIS, another way to know your latitude, be well , Mark

  9. Gerry
    Any chance of listing the blog / book of the italians. Yes ‘Cook ” and the crew did a great job.

  10. A good blog post from MV 3@sea on the subject:

  11. Sure thing Mr. Stewart! is the their site. I got their book “Sailing Around The World” a few years ago, and it was gasoline to my desire to sail. It is a “coffee table” book (ie: Large!) and a compilation of about 4 of their round world trips. Basic format was to take Verne’s Round the World in 80 Days” and highlight their favourite 80 destinations!

    The Website is in Italian, and their blog is updated when they can. They spend a significant amount of time in fairly remote sailing areas, but the book is an inspiring read. Google translates it for me… πŸ™‚

  12. Gerry
    Thankyou muchly –

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