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Sextant: A Young Man's Daring Sea Voyage and the Men Who Mapped the… (2014)

af David Barrie

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1153186,282 (3.1)5
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.
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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. ( )
  PDCRead | Apr 6, 2020 |
History of the development of modern navigational tools (especially the sextant) and techniques along with accounts of various naval expeditions during the discovery of the worlds oceans.
  JohnLavik | Mar 29, 2020 |
I grew up within spitting distance of the sea, in a fishing port, yet have never sailed. But I know a bit about sailing (all bar actually how to do it) so the terminology, the charts, the apparatus are vaguely familiar to me, even if I'd be all at sea when let loose aboard a boat. So this has elements that I recognise, but was also a mine of interesting information. It traces the attempt to answer that human imperative question - where are we? That's hard enough to answer on land, at sea it becomes a whole different ball game. Nowadays you'd plug in the GPS (and possibly discover you're lying at anchor half way up a mountain, but that's a different kettle of fish). This traces the evolution of navigation, and the tools of the trade. It looks at the difficulties of navigation, and how various voyagers overcame them and gradually filled in the map of the seas. In parallel to this is uses extracts of a voyage he made as a teenager, crossing the Atlantic on a yacht, practically taking sighs and finding their position in the same way that the voyagers he discusses were doing.
It's an interesting history, with some technical details on what a sextant does and how it does it, as well as a tale of great adventure and struggles. Interesting enough. ( )
  Helenliz | Nov 17, 2015 |
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Im Gedenken an meinen Vater, Alexander Ogilvy Barrie (1910-1969), der mir als Erster die Sterne zeigte, und an Colin McMullen (1907-1991), der mich lehrte, nach ihnen zu navigieren.
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Sextant. Ich war neun Jahre alt, als ich dieses magische Wort zum ersten Mal hörte.
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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.

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