Celestial Navigation

Celestial Navigation Tools

Celestial Navigation

I did my RYA Ocean Masters Theory a couple of years ago, but never been able to put it into practice. In fact never really got to use a sextant during the course. It truly is a theory course. So one of my little goals whilst doing the clipper is to do enough practical to get the Ocean Master Skipper certificate of competency.

Whilst I was doing the course I picked up a Davis Mark 15 (read basic) sextant off eBay but never really used it in anger, or even tried to do a plot with it. The main issue is (or was); with living so far away from the sea there is no visible horizon to take the altitude readings from. However this week I managed to pick up a Davis Artificial Horizon, again from off eBay, for less than a tenner. So now I can take sights at home and see if my calculations place me at my house?!?.
(Note: subsequently discovered I could have done this just as well with a pan of water or oil)

In addition to the instruments I’ve had to order this years almanac and air sight reduction tables so I’ve got all the current data. It wasn’t till all this arrived in the post that I realised how much of this I’ve forgotten! Good job I got Tom Cunliffe’s book as a refresher at the same time.

So first attempt today taking a noon sighting to calculate my lattitude, one of the easiest things to do apparently – FAILED! Hundreds of miles out…… DOH!:( So looks like plenty of practice required – at least I can do it in the comfort of my own home now and do the calculations without feeling queasy!

Fancy having a go? then this is what you need to get started:

  • Sextant
  • Nautical Almanac
  • Air Sight Reduction Tables – Pub No. 249 – Vol 1
  • Air Sight Reduction Tables – Pub No. 249 – Vol 3
  • Accurate Watch!
  • Dummies guide to Celestial Navigation – I got Tom Cunliffe’s
  • Plotting sheets (blank ones in Tom Cunliffe’s book)

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