Even with all our electronics, sextants – dating to 1759 – are making a comeback. The Navy, for example, has reinstituted its celestial navigation and sextant training because of fears about jammed GPS satellite signals. Whether you’re on a warship or a 65-foot blue-water cruiser, if you lose your electronics, for whatever reason, in the middle of the ocean, it certainly would help to have at least a working knowledge of celestial and a sextant. As Davis Instruments points out, with a wristwatch, a copy of The Nautical Almanac and a chart, you could find your way back home using the sun and the stars.
Davis now makes three sextants to fit any skill level. The company also says that while mastering celestial navigation is not easy, it can be rewarding in its own right. And it ships an instruction booklet with each sextant, in case you need a fast refresher.
The Mark 3 Sextant (at the center of the picture, above), is for the beginner, and uses a sighting tube instead of optics; it costs $59.99. The Mark 15 (at the right of the picture) has a half-silvered mirror, adjustable index mirror and seven large sunshades; it’s $239.99. The Mark 25 (at the left in the picture) is at the high end and has a Beam Converger full-horizon mirror, LED illumination and coated optics for superior low-light transmission, and it’s $279.99. For more: