counter Sextant: A Young Man's Daring Sea Voyage and the Men Who Mapped the World's Oceans - Free Download Books
Hot Best Seller

Sextant: A Young Man's Daring Sea Voyage and the Men Who Mapped the World's Oceans

Availability: Ready to download

In the tradition of Dava Sobel's Longitude comes sailing expert David Barrie's compelling and dramatic tale of invention and discovery—an eloquent elegy to one of the most important navigational instruments ever created, and the daring mariners who used it to explore, conquer, and map the world.Since its invention in 1759, a mariner's most prized possession has been the se In the tradition of Dava Sobel's Longitude comes sailing expert David Barrie's compelling and dramatic tale of invention and discovery—an eloquent elegy to one of the most important navigational instruments ever created, and the daring mariners who used it to explore, conquer, and map the world.Since its invention in 1759, a mariner's most prized possession has been the sextant. A navigation tool that measures the angle between a celestial object and the horizon, the sextant allowed sailors to pinpoint their exact location at sea.David Barrie chronicles the sextant's development and shows how it not only saved the lives of navigators in wild and dangerous seas, but played a pivotal role in their ability to map the globe. He synthesizes centuries of seafaring history and the daring sailors who have become legend, including James Cook, Matthew Flinders, Robert Fitz-Roy, Frank Worsley of the Endurance, and Joshua Slocum, the redoubtable old "lunarian" and first single-handed-round-the-world yachtsman. He also recounts his own maiden voyage, and insights gleaned from his experiences as a practiced seaman and navigator.Full of heroism, danger, and excitement, told with an infectious sense of wonder, Sextant offers a new look at a masterful achievement that changed the course of history.


Compare

In the tradition of Dava Sobel's Longitude comes sailing expert David Barrie's compelling and dramatic tale of invention and discovery—an eloquent elegy to one of the most important navigational instruments ever created, and the daring mariners who used it to explore, conquer, and map the world.Since its invention in 1759, a mariner's most prized possession has been the se In the tradition of Dava Sobel's Longitude comes sailing expert David Barrie's compelling and dramatic tale of invention and discovery—an eloquent elegy to one of the most important navigational instruments ever created, and the daring mariners who used it to explore, conquer, and map the world.Since its invention in 1759, a mariner's most prized possession has been the sextant. A navigation tool that measures the angle between a celestial object and the horizon, the sextant allowed sailors to pinpoint their exact location at sea.David Barrie chronicles the sextant's development and shows how it not only saved the lives of navigators in wild and dangerous seas, but played a pivotal role in their ability to map the globe. He synthesizes centuries of seafaring history and the daring sailors who have become legend, including James Cook, Matthew Flinders, Robert Fitz-Roy, Frank Worsley of the Endurance, and Joshua Slocum, the redoubtable old "lunarian" and first single-handed-round-the-world yachtsman. He also recounts his own maiden voyage, and insights gleaned from his experiences as a practiced seaman and navigator.Full of heroism, danger, and excitement, told with an infectious sense of wonder, Sextant offers a new look at a masterful achievement that changed the course of history.

30 review for Sextant: A Young Man's Daring Sea Voyage and the Men Who Mapped the World's Oceans

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bandit

    I've been trying to figure out whether I overestimated my interest in nautical navigation or Barrie just somewhat undersold me on it. To be fair, this is a perfectly decent book, it's just my personal preference for nonfiction mostly leans toward a more humorous and amusingly irreverent approach. I am actually genuinely interest in some of the topics covered in the book, such as early explorations, world travels and so on. I have a map of the world hanging on my wall (Mercator Projection) and of I've been trying to figure out whether I overestimated my interest in nautical navigation or Barrie just somewhat undersold me on it. To be fair, this is a perfectly decent book, it's just my personal preference for nonfiction mostly leans toward a more humorous and amusingly irreverent approach. I am actually genuinely interest in some of the topics covered in the book, such as early explorations, world travels and so on. I have a map of the world hanging on my wall (Mercator Projection) and often marvel at the delicate complexity of the coastlines, imagining the effort it must have taken to find and measure the boundaries of all the lands. Imagine no more, this book addresses the subject pretty thoroughly. The dedicated, brave, driven souls who sailed and surveyed in face of dangers and privation. And Barrie, a sailor himself, knows his subject and is obviously passionate about it, but the focus of the book was firmly on the tools in general and the eponymous sextant in particular it took to navigate the world and so at times it's about as exciting as one might expect the book about tools to be. At times positively arid for something with two water bodies within a title. So there was something of a disconnect, an exciting subject told in a non exciting manner. Thoroughly informative, mind you though not necessarily in a way that sticks, overwhelmed more often than not with a variety of facts and copious footnotes. Maybe I just subconsciously expected more from a man whose ancestor wrote one of my all time favorite adventures. I absolutely agree with Barrie about the fact that abandoning traditional methods in favor of the ever increasing reliance on modern technology is alarming and a balance must be found and I find it positively awesome that early Polynesian sailors were able to navigate completely tool free just using the cue from the world around them and, on occasion, their balls. Seriously, talk about ballsy sailing. Now that sounds like a fun book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    In this book Barrie tells us how and why this piece of technology changed the way that sailors navigated their way across the wild and unknown seas in the great age of exploration. There are tales of explorers like Cook, FitzRoy, Flinders and Worsley as they charted the new worlds of Australia and New Zealand, suffered the great storms of the Southern ocean and trawled across the vastness of the Pacific Ocean. Woven amongst these tales of men who sought to go beyond the map and discover the unkno In this book Barrie tells us how and why this piece of technology changed the way that sailors navigated their way across the wild and unknown seas in the great age of exploration. There are tales of explorers like Cook, FitzRoy, Flinders and Worsley as they charted the new worlds of Australia and New Zealand, suffered the great storms of the Southern ocean and trawled across the vastness of the Pacific Ocean. Woven amongst these tales of men who sought to go beyond the map and discover the unknown is Barrie’s own adventure. In 1973 he crewed on a boat called Saecwen, that was crossing the Atlantic from America to the UK. This was before the advent of GPS and modern navigational technologies, so he had to rely on the sextant and charts to determine his position every day. They suffered storms and near misses with giant ships, and saw dolphins and other sea creatures as they crossed. The journey proved to him that this precision instrument was capable of getting men safely across the huge oceans. Written in a similar vein to the book Longitude by Soble, this is a blend of science, history and adventure. It is interesting in parts and full of interesting facts and details. But like some ocean voyages, it does feel that you are becalmed occasionally, and just paddling along. Overall ok, but really only for those with a real interest in sailing and adventure.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tim

    Moving to my shelf of instant favourites, Sextant is one of those books that keep you reading through an entire night without noticing time going by. Barrie enlightened my world by retelling the brialliant discovery stories of Cook, Bligh, Vancouver, Flinders, FitzRoy and many others, and by which navigational techniques those Masters of the Oceans used to find their way. Being a technical surveyor myself, I found that his work was especially interesting and well explained. Barrie takes the read Moving to my shelf of instant favourites, Sextant is one of those books that keep you reading through an entire night without noticing time going by. Barrie enlightened my world by retelling the brialliant discovery stories of Cook, Bligh, Vancouver, Flinders, FitzRoy and many others, and by which navigational techniques those Masters of the Oceans used to find their way. Being a technical surveyor myself, I found that his work was especially interesting and well explained. Barrie takes the reader through many hundred years of navigational history and new developments, from simple star sightings on open oceans, to meridian altitudes, sextants, lunar distances, longitude chronometers, theodolites, and eventually radar systems and GPS. In a vivid and light way of writing, the author sheds light on these instruments by accompanying their stories with the tales of the great navigators and explorers of the seas. Barrie himself is an expert of analogue navigation himself: he recounts his pan-atlantic boat trip in a small sailing vessel from Halifax to England in 1973, navigating entirely by sextants and almanachs. He elegantly mingles some of his old log book entries between the well written chapters, additionally quoting log book entries of those old captains on many occasions. In this way, I felt like being on those trips myself. A lovely book, and as I said before, an instant favourite. I guess I'll pick up a log book of James Cook not before long.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Michael Burnam-Fink

    Sextant is an ode to the craft of nautical navigation, and the instrument which enabled the navigators of the Age of Sail to find their way across the seas. Barrie frames his history around his own crossing of the Atlantic in a small sailing yacht, which gives a human touch to his history of famous voyagers: Bligh, Cook, Vancouver, Fitzroy, and Shackleton foremost among them. Picking up from Sobel's classic Longitude, Barrie demonstrates that even after the invention of the chronometer, celestial Sextant is an ode to the craft of nautical navigation, and the instrument which enabled the navigators of the Age of Sail to find their way across the seas. Barrie frames his history around his own crossing of the Atlantic in a small sailing yacht, which gives a human touch to his history of famous voyagers: Bligh, Cook, Vancouver, Fitzroy, and Shackleton foremost among them. Picking up from Sobel's classic Longitude, Barrie demonstrates that even after the invention of the chronometer, celestial navigation was preferred as more reliable than mechanical gimcrackery. With a sextant for measuring the angles of the sun, moon, and key stars, along with a table of ephemera in a nautical almanac, a skilled navigator could get a fix of a few hundred meters. But navigation is more than the best route between ports. These are stories about cartography, strenuous missions to get trigonometric fixes on the mazes of channels that make up the Pacific Northwest, the islands of the South Pacific, and the horrific shoreline of Tierra del Fuego. These explorers were an austere crowd, at least compared to the genocidal conquistadors of the Age of Exploration, or the mercantile interests that would follow the initial mapping. Barrie presents a rather uncritical view of what was a vital part of the British imperial project, but he has a talent for turning the logs of these taciturn men into thrilling adventurers, invoking the magic of sailing by your senses and little bit of spherical trigonometry in an age when precise coordinate to anywhere are in your pocket.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    My favorite of the many hybrid memoir/history sailing books I have been devouring lately, a meaningful and well written combination, with excellent use of historic explorations and direct quotes mingled with a more modern day adventure the author partakes of in his youth using a sextant. There is mystery, and there is romanticizing. Mystery encompasses the journey that many sailors embarked on, and continue to do so, and were able to be mindful and observant of the deep beauty and depths of not My favorite of the many hybrid memoir/history sailing books I have been devouring lately, a meaningful and well written combination, with excellent use of historic explorations and direct quotes mingled with a more modern day adventure the author partakes of in his youth using a sextant. There is mystery, and there is romanticizing. Mystery encompasses the journey that many sailors embarked on, and continue to do so, and were able to be mindful and observant of the deep beauty and depths of not only their journey, but the landscape. We have become such indoor people, and can barely stand the dark without fear, and many of us have never even seen the Milky Way; but our ancestors might have had some magnetite that allowed them to navigate their nomadic hunter gatherer routes like butterflies and homing pigeons. “Sextant” allows for a little bit of mystery, and a lot of gripping storytelling. Before the HMS Beagle carried Darwin on his seminal travels, it travelled to Patagonia and its captain Robert FitzRoy writes of the navigational chart of a dangerous bay he wanted to anchor in, “the chart of it, with all its stars to mark the rocks, looks like a map of the heavens, rather than part of the earth.” I have been reading a lot of historical accounts of early navigation and exploration and that poetic description is utterly unique, and a perfect example of what makes “Sextant” inimitable and more lyrical than the others. With Darwin aboard, the Beagle sailed for 4 years to Tahiti and the Galapagos, New Zealand and Australia, Brazil and the Azores, and it seems to really sink in what that meant in that day and age. Ships had disappeared all the time, and each person on the ship must have felt like a modern day astronaut, ready to give their lives, just to know what was out there, a deep and abiding curiosity that is so beautiful in this day and age of cynicism and jadedness. I also know I would have liked history more if these details were teased out and presented next to rote memorization. “The heavens have always fascinated people, and we have long looked to them for guidance, though we were not the first animals to do so. Many different species use the sun, moon, and stars to reach their destinations…The magnificent monarch butterfly, for example, relies on an internal sun compass to find its way at the end of every summer from the eastern United States south to the mountains of central Mexico, where vast numbers pass the winter clinging to trees. On a more modest scale, dung beetles have recently been shown to use the orientation of the Milky Way to help them roll food back to their nests by the shortest route, and honeybees use polarized sunlight to navigate to and from their hives on foraging trips. Mystery still surrounds the exact nature of the homing pigeon’s skills, but they seem to involved a magnetic sense, coupled with a kind of sun compass and the ability to hear low frequency sound, such as that produced by the breaking waves that mark the line of the coast. Some migrating birds rely on Polaris, and seals too can steer by the stars.” The author spends a lot of time on the tale of Shackleton’s fated and failed trip for Antarctica on the Endurance and goes back and forth between Shackleton’s account and his chief navigator, Frank Worsley. It again contains delightful and unexpected language from harrowing circumstances that almost seems false: while taking sextant and chronometer readings, Worsley writes, “I knelt on the thwart-two men holding me up on either side. I brought the sun down to where the horizon ought to be and as the boat leapt frantically upward on the crest of a wave snapped a good guess at the altitude and yelled, Stop. Sir Ernest took the time and I worked out the result. Then the fun started! Our fingers were so cold that he had to interpret his wobbly figures...” Fun? They were staging a rescue of men they had left behind, and while all survived and the accounts were colored by the victory of survival, I wonder if it was dry British humor that called it “fun” and what really happened is lost to history. Worsley also writes of the immensity of the Southern Ocean and waves unimpeded by landmasses, “ the highest, broadest, and longest in the world, the swells race in their encircling course until they reach their birthplace again, and so reinforcing themselves sweep forward in fierce and haughty majesty, four hundred, a thousand yards, a mile apart in fine weather, silent and stately they pass along.” Yeah, that is what calls to me. Of native Pacific islanders’ navigational talents, the author writes, “After a long and rigorous training, the native navigators carried in their heads a vast store of knowledge about the rising and the setting of the sun and stars, the seasonal behavior of winds, the relative positions of different islands, atolls, and reefs, and the effects of these on the deep ocean swells as well as on the local, wind-driven waves. They knew exactly where on the horizon each prominent star rose and set and used this information to maintain a constant course when sailing out of sight of land. They may well also have known which star would stand vertically above each important island (in its zenith) when it crossed that island’s meridian. This would have enabled them to determine when they were in the same latitude as the target island, though not whether they were to the east or west of it…. they made up for their inability to measure longitude by taking advantage of the distinctive patterns of waves and swells, which revealed to them the presence and the direction of land long before it was visible…of course, they also carefully observed the behavior of birds, the nature of the clouds, and changes in the color of the water. In fact, every sense was put to work; sometimes even the taste of the sea could help them fix their position. It was extraordinary skills like these that enabled people not only to settle nearly all the islands of the Pacific, but to develop and maintain a cohesive culture…”

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Parham

    Being the maritime history nerd that I am, there were two things I really enjoyed about this book: 1) the history around the development of the sextant and the chronometer, and the evolution of celestial navigation based on the appearance of these instruments, and 2) the history of the explorers who bumbled their way around this planet with the various incarnations of these navigational tools in their employ. I will be honest – and this is just a personal preference, not a critique of Barrie’s a Being the maritime history nerd that I am, there were two things I really enjoyed about this book: 1) the history around the development of the sextant and the chronometer, and the evolution of celestial navigation based on the appearance of these instruments, and 2) the history of the explorers who bumbled their way around this planet with the various incarnations of these navigational tools in their employ. I will be honest – and this is just a personal preference, not a critique of Barrie’s approach to this book – I could have done without the “personal voyage” narrative. Sextant is one part Barrie’s own trek across the North Atlantic on a yacht in the 1970s and two parts history of the eponymous instrument. The personal voyage material was well-written and interesting, but I relished the history he presented, and I wished he had dedicated the entire book to it. He had more than enough material to make the book a compelling read. Because the two parts history is fascinating, and Barrie provides just enough detail in this compact tome – only 280 pages – that if you want to know more about the men profiled here, you will have to head back to the bookstore for the more comprehensive accounts of these navigators. Which is relatively easy to do since most of the big names from the Age of Exploration are here: William Bligh, James Cook, Robert FitzRoy, George Vancouver, and Ernest Shackleton, are just a few he tackles, but other names like Matthew Flinders, Louis-Antoine de Bougainville, and Jean-Francois de Galaup, comte de La Perouse also make an appearance. Barrie does a great job of providing broad brush strokes on these men’s stories, and their place in the history of oceanic exploration. I was also pleasantly surprised to learn more about the history of celestial navigation, and the real challenges these men faced in accurately pin-pointing their positions at sea in the eons before the arrival of GPS. I have seen references to these challenges in other maritime history works I have tackled, but they are only references. Barrie really delves into the detail – the faulty equipment (chronometers were a very in-exact instrument for decades), the lack of understanding the earth is not perfectly round, the lack of understanding the moon has a rather wavy orbit around the earth, and the complexities of the math involved are all part of why navigation – and calculating longitude to be exact – was (and still is) an imperfect science. Most thought-provoking of all, however, were Barrie’s ruminations on the effect technology has had on our interactions wit the natural world. He laments that early navigators, lacking the “push a button” equipment we have today, had a greater understanding, awareness, and appreciation of the majesty of our planet. They could feel the awe of nature, the open ocean, and the night sky in ways we don’t appreciate anymore because everything is done for us on computers. And I agree. Therefore, Barrie’s book has reiterated to me an importance in appreciating the natural world. Taking time to really relish in the beauty all around, especially at night when the stars shine down on us. And I want to read more about ALL of these early oceani

  7. 5 out of 5

    Tom Darrow

    Its not really clear what the author is trying to accomplish in this book, because it is essentially three books in one. It's titled "Sextant" and part of his goal is to tell the story of the development of this nautical device, but his accomplishment of this goal is haphazard, at best. In places where describes the workings of the sextant, he is over-technical and uses too many nautical and geometric terms without doing that good of a job of explaining them. There are a few diagrams, but severa Its not really clear what the author is trying to accomplish in this book, because it is essentially three books in one. It's titled "Sextant" and part of his goal is to tell the story of the development of this nautical device, but his accomplishment of this goal is haphazard, at best. In places where describes the workings of the sextant, he is over-technical and uses too many nautical and geometric terms without doing that good of a job of explaining them. There are a few diagrams, but several are a few pages away from the material that they are trying to illustrate. The story of the development of the sextant is also split among several chapters where he talks about how various navigators used incarnations of this device on their trips. The second part of the book are the chapters about various explorers of the Pacific, whose stories are well-known for people who have an interest in maritime history. He has a chapter or two on William Bligh and the Bounty mutiny, Magellan's expedition, and Shackleton's expedition in the Antarctic, for example, but this length of space is not enough to do these journey's any real justice. Furthermore, within each section, Barrie copies paragraph long sections of the journals of those captains. There is so much copying, that about half of the text in each chapter is not from the author of the book, which makes the reader want to just read the original text. The final purpose of this book is for the author to tell the story of his personal journey sailing across the Atlantic in a small yacht as a young man in the 1970s. In the first couple chapters of the book, Barrie provides a narrative of his trip up the Atlantic coast of Canada, but once the ship sails out into open water, his coverage consists of little more than a short journal entry from each day at the start of each chapter. Generally speaking, this book is three things in one, but it doesn't do any one of those three things well. If you are interested in the history of navigation, I would recommend Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time. If you are interested in the stories of famous navigators, I would recommend read the original stories like South: The Story of Shackleton's Last Expedition 1914 - 1917 or well done histories, like Over the Edge of the World: Magellan's Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe. There are also many other personal adventure biographies out there, like Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Allen Murphey

    Relating the trials, the triumphs, and the advances of such explorers as Cook, FitzRoy, Flinders, and Shackelton, Barrie weaves a history of oceanic exploration and the development of navigation tools (especially the titular sextant) with the log of his own first small boat Atlantic crossing. The narration flows (sorry) from one explorer to another, one danger to another. Barrie’s text is easy to follow as he reminds us of the almost unbelievable hardships that sailors endured, sometimes for yea Relating the trials, the triumphs, and the advances of such explorers as Cook, FitzRoy, Flinders, and Shackelton, Barrie weaves a history of oceanic exploration and the development of navigation tools (especially the titular sextant) with the log of his own first small boat Atlantic crossing. The narration flows (sorry) from one explorer to another, one danger to another. Barrie’s text is easy to follow as he reminds us of the almost unbelievable hardships that sailors endured, sometimes for years at a time, to advance the accurate charting of coastlines, islands, and dangers. Barrie’s own story of ocean crossing pales by comparison. Introducing each chapter, Barrie’s crossing really comprises no more than four or five percent of the narration. But then his adventure is not why we’re here. Barrie’s tales of mapping, exploration, frustration, and dogged determination are well researched and invitingly told. Comparisons to Dava Sobel may be a bit premature, but I’ll definitely be looking for Barrie’s next book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    John Benson

    I liked this book because the author tells the story of a trip he did across the Atlantic in a small boat in the 1970s using a sextant and other aspects of celestial navigation, while showing how the same types of navigation were used in earlier centuries to map out the coastlines of both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Though I am a geographer, I had not known much of this history. He brings out all aspects well.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Martin

    This has been a delightful book to read. It is also very informative. When in his teens the author was given the opportunity of helping to sail a cruising yacht across the Atlantic, from Halifax to Falmouth. During that 24 day crossing he was taught how to use a sextant, and other navigational aids. The book is unusually structured. Each chapter opens briefly with his day's work and thoughts during that voyage, and then goes on to review the achievements of many of the world's greatest navigator- This has been a delightful book to read. It is also very informative. When in his teens the author was given the opportunity of helping to sail a cruising yacht across the Atlantic, from Halifax to Falmouth. During that 24 day crossing he was taught how to use a sextant, and other navigational aids. The book is unusually structured. Each chapter opens briefly with his day's work and thoughts during that voyage, and then goes on to review the achievements of many of the world's greatest navigator-explorers, from Alvaro de Mendaña to Shackleton. The writing is so good that the easy reading masks the depth of research behind each chapter: there are 23 end-pages of bibliography and notes, many of which are interesting in their own right. As well as many colour plates, the book is enhanced by a series of maps/charts drawn specially for it, with every place named in the text marked on one or other of these. It will appeal to all interested in the history and personalities of maritime exploration. The men, and they were always men in those days, had varied experiences. Very few returned to a wealthy retirement, as Anson did. Some died during their voyages: Captain James Cook is well known for having been killed on Hawaii and La Pérouse's ships disappeared near the Solomon Islands. Some received little or no recognition of their fortitude and careful surveys. Vancouver had incurred the personal enmity of powerful aristocrats in spite of his meticulous survey of the western coast of North America, including the island that now bears his name, and died before his efforts in surveying and diplomacy were recognised. Even Pringle Stokes and Robert FitzRoy, who meticulously surveyed the difficult and dangerous waters of southernmost America in the Beagle (Charles Darwin was on one of these survey voyages), did not really get the recognition they deserved, and both committed suicide. Ernest Shackleton's heroic Antarctic voyage from Elephant Island to South Georgia is now well known, but its success depended vitally on the expert navigation of Frank Worsley who is comparatively unknown. Chapter after chapter in this book grips one. We take it for granted that Harrison's invention of the chronometer (so well described in Dava Sobel's "Longitude") solved the difficulties of fixing a position on the globe and did away with the need for the difficult calculations from astronomical measurements: "lunars". Far from the truth. This book makes it clear that the chronometer remained a costly but untrustworthy instrument right up until modern times. FitzRoy had 22 chronometers aboard the Beagle. By the time he returned home in 1836 half of them had stopped or were working erratically. When Shackleton had to abandon the Endurance in 1916 only one of the original 24 was still 'in good going order'. Again and again these explorers were regularly using "lunars" and other astronomical measurements to check not only on their precise location, but also to check on the reliability of their chronometers! David Barrie ends with the comment that modern battery-quartz watches are likely to be more reliable and accurate than most clockwork chronometers. He makes a strong case for maintaining training in the use of the sextant for determining longitude as well as latitude, in spite of modern GPS and radio-location aids to navigation. Sextant is both thoughtful and very readable.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ralph

    Although the subtitle implies that the primary subject of the book will be a de tag of the author’s “...daring sea voyage...”, the vast majority relates the evolution of navigational instruments over several centuries. The most revolutionary instrument is, of course, the sextant. As noted, the description of the author’s voyage takes up a minor part of the narrative, generally limited to a half page or less at the beginning of each chapter. Sometimes there is a bit more information given. Howeve Although the subtitle implies that the primary subject of the book will be a de tag of the author’s “...daring sea voyage...”, the vast majority relates the evolution of navigational instruments over several centuries. The most revolutionary instrument is, of course, the sextant. As noted, the description of the author’s voyage takes up a minor part of the narrative, generally limited to a half page or less at the beginning of each chapter. Sometimes there is a bit more information given. However, the development of navigational instruments takes on a most enlightening story of how various explorers managed to find their way around the globe. Often these explorers and native peoples were sailing into unknown waters trusting the observation of stars, water color, birds, and other natural features or just plain “dead reckoning” to estimate their location. It seems too often, especially for the European explorers, this lead to ship wrecks and the loss of life.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Hans Rigelman

    Before GPS We Navigated by the Stars David Barrie wonderfully weaves together stories of scientific expeditions from the past several centuries with his own experiences crossing the Atlantic. Many dangers faced those early explorers, and the dependence on their instruments and wits drove them to seek more dependable means of navigation. Sextant does a better job of explaining the history of navigation than does Sobel's Longitude or Gurney's Compass. Well done. Before GPS We Navigated by the Stars David Barrie wonderfully weaves together stories of scientific expeditions from the past several centuries with his own experiences crossing the Atlantic. Many dangers faced those early explorers, and the dependence on their instruments and wits drove them to seek more dependable means of navigation. Sextant does a better job of explaining the history of navigation than does Sobel's Longitude or Gurney's Compass. Well done.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Peter C

    The Stars declare .... .Rom1 It has been said "Knowledge not passed down is knowledge lost " This is an excellent example of how our knowledge has increased but our lack of sophistication in understanding how it got there. Sailing, history, mathematics , travel.... All the things I like. As it was said " These were men " author included . The Stars declare .... .Rom1 It has been said "Knowledge not passed down is knowledge lost " This is an excellent example of how our knowledge has increased but our lack of sophistication in understanding how it got there. Sailing, history, mathematics , travel.... All the things I like. As it was said " These were men " author included .

  14. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Briant

    I did not think I would enjoy this book as much as I did. Barrie effectively wove together his own adventure across the Atlantic with tales of great navigators. His writing was sophisticated, well paced, and inspires the desire to sail and to set off for the great unknown. A surprisingly lovely read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nick Nobbe

    Sound survey of navigation Covers history of advances in celestial navigation coupled with two current sailing voyages relying on use of the sextant . Nota bene: Neophytes are advised to refer to other sources to learn more about the fundamentals & mechanics of reckoning & use of the sextant.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nick Forbes

    A diverting and informative voyage through the history of this important navigational tool, and one man's relationship with the sea. In an age of increasing navigational automation and digitisation (and perhaps infantilisation), the sextant represents a different, perhaps more enriching, relationship with the oceans. A diverting and informative voyage through the history of this important navigational tool, and one man's relationship with the sea. In an age of increasing navigational automation and digitisation (and perhaps infantilisation), the sextant represents a different, perhaps more enriching, relationship with the oceans.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Henry Petruskewic

    This book is a s text book to teach navigation to an up and coming generation plus giving a fun and novel way of practical examples throughout! This was a book that explained many things I never could master in my youth. Enjoyed reading this book and the new knowledge gained.

  18. 5 out of 5

    William

    I found this book very uneven. I enjoyed the early explorer accounts but not the modern journey of the author. The book was too full of quotes from other writings by these explorer/ authors but they were a little too much. Towards the end, I just skipped whole paragraphs without missing much.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Joan

    Good book. sextant was informative and a lot of history., very enjoyable.. the story was a combination of modern sailing with "modern" navigation tools and a history of sailing before and during the development of these tools.. Good book. sextant was informative and a lot of history., very enjoyable.. the story was a combination of modern sailing with "modern" navigation tools and a history of sailing before and during the development of these tools..

  20. 5 out of 5

    Roger Rosenberg

    Used a different sextant as an Air Force navigator but the mathematical principles,were,the same. Fascinating discussion of the seafarers who invented the modern sextant wrapped around the Author’s crossing of the Atlantic under sail.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ralph Lavelle

    A nice bit of travelogue business, with satisfying science and history interludes. I bought a copy of this for friends I liked it so much.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Dale Bay

    Nicely interleaved stories of personal experience learning navigation while on trans-oceanic sailing voyages and historical background tying both together.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kerry Meservia

    Much like the book, Scurvy. Without the sextant and curing scurvy it would have been hard to find what they did.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Dennis

    The history of navigation was interesting. The challenges were well-presented.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    A very excellent read, quite enjoyable.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Rosanova

    I thought this book was an excellent blend of personal journey and history with most of the emphasis on the history. It’s well written and engaging. Highly recommended.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Meg Coulson

    Interesting

  28. 5 out of 5

    Don

    Not enough info about how the sextant is made and is used for my taste. There are some wonderful stories about sailing ships and their use of sextants.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Michal Paszkiewicz

    A pretty decent history of the sextant in navigation. I just wish the book had a full description with diagrams as to how to use it and the other techniques and tools mentioned.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Thomas

    Great book, kept me in awe and occupied in my spare time when I was a cadet on my second sea voyage. Vital to understanding, if only slightly, how our modern global world came into to being.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...