Sextant: A Voyage Guided by the Stars and the Men Who Mapped the World's Oceans

3.83 avg rating
( 234 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780007516582: Sextant: A Voyage Guided by the Stars and the Men Who Mapped the World's Oceans

In the tradition of Dava Sobel's Longitude comes this dramatic tale of invention and discovery—an eloquent elegy to one of the most important navigational instruments ever created, and to the daring mariners who used it to explore, conquer, and map the world.

Barrie takes readers straight to the helm of some of history's most important expeditions, interweaving these heroic tales with the account of his own transatlantic passage as a young man. A heady mix of adventure, science, mathematics, and derring-do, Sextant is infused with a sense of wonder and discovery. At once a dramatic history of maritime endeavor and a love letter to the sea and sky, it is timeless storytelling at its best.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

Review:

David Barrie

The Story Behind Sextant

The story of Sextant began in 1973 when a family friend - Colin McMullen - asked me to help him sail his 35-foot yacht back across the Atlantic from America. I was nineteen and it was such an exciting offer that I immediately accepted. After cruising up the coast of Maine, we set sail from Halifax, Nova Scotia, at the end of July.

In those days the only one safe way to navigate a small boat across an ocean was with a sextant to measure the heights of the sun and stars above the horizon. You also needed a chronometer to determine the exact time of each sight. This was exactly how Captain Cook navigated back in the 1770s.

I learned a lot during that 24-day voyage, and not just about celestial navigation. I was sometimes frightened, often cold, wet and uncomfortable, but there were also many moments of delight and exaltation. The majestic spectacle of the black immensity of the night sky sparkling from horizon to horizon with the undimmed light of countless stars was astounding. And to fix your position in mid-ocean by the light of the sun and stars is a truly sublime experience.

So one of my aims in writing this book was simply to tell the story of that life-changing voyage, of how I learned to use a sextant. Also 1973 was the year the US armed forces began developing the satellite navigation system we now know as GPS. At its heart is a network of satellites in precisely determined orbits each carrying its own atomic clock. A GPS receiver picks up the faint signals from these satellites and a computer chip uses them to determine its position. Since 2000 anyone with a GPS receiver has been able to fix his or her position to within a few meters.

The golden age of celestial navigation has now come to an end, but for two hundred years or more the sextant was an indispensable navigational tool. So my second aim is to celebrate the achievements of the mathematicians, astronomers and instrument-makers who made this great navigational breakthrough possible, and to illuminate the crucial role the sextant played in it.

I also wanted to commemorate the extraordinary men who put the sextant to such good use in exploring and mapping the world. Some, like Cook, are still famous but many have been almost forgotten. I tell the remarkable tales of just a few of these heroic mariners - including Bougainville, La Pérouse, Vancouver, Flinders and FitzRoy.

And I could not resist including accounts of three astonishing small boat voyages - by William Bligh, Joshua Slocum and Frank Worsley - the success of which depended on accurate celestial navigation. Sextant is an elegy to a technology that has now all but vanished.

It shows how much we owe to this elegant instrument and to the courageous people who used it. And I hope it also gives some sense of how rewarding it is to fix your position on the open ocean by reference to the heavens above - rather than just by pushing a button.


From the Back Cover:

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 to the daring mariners who used it to explore, conquer, and map the world.

Barrie takes readers straight to the helm of some of history's most important expeditions, interweaving these heroic tales with the account of his own transatlantic passage as a young man. Among the many inspiring stories are those of the legendary Captain Cook and the great French navigator Jean-François de Galaup, comte de La Pérouse, whose disappearance has long remained a mystery. Other intrepid navigators include George Vancouver, the indefatigable surveyor of the American northwest; Matthew Flinders, the first to circumnavigate Australia; and Captain Robert FitzRoy of the Beagle. And, along with Joshua Slocum's single-handed yacht voyage around the world, we are told of two almost unbelievable open-boat voyages, undertaken in desperate circumstances by Captain William Bligh and Sir Ernest Shackleton.

A heady mix of adventure, science, mathematics, and derring-do, Sextant is infused with a sense of wonder and discovery. At once a dramatic history of maritime endeavor and a love letter to the sea and sky, it is timeless storytelling at its best.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Top Search Results from the AbeBooks Marketplace

1.

Barrie, David
ISBN 10: 0007516584 ISBN 13: 9780007516582
New Quantity Available: 5
Seller
GreatBookPrices
(Columbia, MD, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # 19177639-n

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 7.63
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 2.64
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

2.

David Barrie
Published by HarperCollins Publishers, United Kingdom (2015)
ISBN 10: 0007516584 ISBN 13: 9780007516582
New Paperback Quantity Available: 10
Seller
The Book Depository US
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description HarperCollins Publishers, United Kingdom, 2015. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 198 x 129 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. 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. This is the dramatic story of an instrument that changed history. Built around David Barrie s own transatlantic passage using the very same navigational tools as Captain Cook, Sextant tells how one of the most vital navigational instruments was invented and used - and why the golden age of celestial navigation has now come to an end. From Cook, Bligh and Vancouver to Bougainville, La Perouse, Flinders and FitzRoy, Barrie recounts the fortunes of the explorers who risked their lives in charting the Pacific, as well as the intrepid adventures of Slocum, Shackleton and Worsley. A heady mix of history, science and adventure, this elegy to a lost technology is infused with the wonder of discovery and the sublimity of the cosmos. Bookseller Inventory # AA89780007516582

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 10.28
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

3.

David Barrie
ISBN 10: 0007516584 ISBN 13: 9780007516582
New Quantity Available: 1
Seller
BWB
(Valley Stream, NY, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Book Condition: New. Depending on your location, this item may ship from the US or UK. Bookseller Inventory # 97800075165820000000

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 10.37
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

4.

David Barrie
Published by HarperCollins Publishers, United Kingdom (2015)
ISBN 10: 0007516584 ISBN 13: 9780007516582
New Paperback Quantity Available: 10
Seller
The Book Depository
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description HarperCollins Publishers, United Kingdom, 2015. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 198 x 129 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. 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. This is the dramatic story of an instrument that changed history. Built around David Barrie s own transatlantic passage using the very same navigational tools as Captain Cook, Sextant tells how one of the most vital navigational instruments was invented and used - and why the golden age of celestial navigation has now come to an end. From Cook, Bligh and Vancouver to Bougainville, La Perouse, Flinders and FitzRoy, Barrie recounts the fortunes of the explorers who risked their lives in charting the Pacific, as well as the intrepid adventures of Slocum, Shackleton and Worsley. A heady mix of history, science and adventure, this elegy to a lost technology is infused with the wonder of discovery and the sublimity of the cosmos. Bookseller Inventory # AA89780007516582

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 10.41
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

5.

David Barrie
Published by William Collins (2015)
ISBN 10: 0007516584 ISBN 13: 9780007516582
New Softcover Quantity Available: 3
Seller
Rating
[?]

Book Description William Collins, 2015. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # EH9780007516582

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 11.08
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 2.23
From Germany to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

6.

Barrie, David
Published by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd
ISBN 10: 0007516584 ISBN 13: 9780007516582
New Softcover Quantity Available: 9
Seller
Kennys Bookstore
(Olney, MD, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Ltd. Book Condition: New. 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. Num Pages: 368 pages. BIC Classification: HBTM; WTLP. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 199 x 129 x 25. Weight in Grams: 280. . 2015. Paperback. . . . . Books ship from the US and Ireland. Bookseller Inventory # V9780007516582

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 14.43
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

7.

Barrie, David
Published by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd (2015)
ISBN 10: 0007516584 ISBN 13: 9780007516582
New Softcover Quantity Available: 9
Rating
[?]

Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, 2015. Book Condition: New. 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. Num Pages: 368 pages. BIC Classification: HBTM; WTLP. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 199 x 129 x 25. Weight in Grams: 280. . 2015. Paperback. . . . . . Bookseller Inventory # V9780007516582

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 14.97
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From Ireland to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

8.

David Barrie
Published by HarperCollins Publishers 2015-06-04, London (2015)
ISBN 10: 0007516584 ISBN 13: 9780007516582
New paperback Quantity Available: 5
Seller
Blackwell's
(Oxford, OX, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description HarperCollins Publishers 2015-06-04, London, 2015. paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # 9780007516582

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 11.78
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.82
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

9.

David Barrie
ISBN 10: 0007516584 ISBN 13: 9780007516582
New Quantity Available: 3
Seller
Speedy Hen LLC
(Sunrise, FL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # ST0007516584. Bookseller Inventory # ST0007516584

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 16.35
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

10.

David Barrie
Published by William Collins (2015)
ISBN 10: 0007516584 ISBN 13: 9780007516582
New Softcover Quantity Available: 17
Seller
Ria Christie Collections
(Uxbridge, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description William Collins, 2015. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # ria9780007516582_rkm

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 12.35
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 4.92
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

There are more copies of this book

View all search results for this book