Sextant: A Voyage Guided by the Stars and the Men Who

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 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 worldThis is the story of an instrument that changed the world In prose as crisp as the book s subject, David Barrie tells how and why the sextant was invented how offshore navigators depended on it for their lives in wild and dangerous seas until the advent of GPS and the sextant s vital role in the history of exploration Much of the book is set amidst the waves of the Pacific Ocean as explorers searched for the great southern ocean, charted the coasts of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Alaska as well as the Pacific islands Among the protagonists are Captain James Cook, the great French navigator, La P rouse, who built on Cook s work in the exploring the Pacific during the s, but never made it home, George Vancouver, Matthew Flinders the first man to circumnavigate Australia, Robert FitzRoy of the Beagle, Joshua Slocum, the redoubtable old lunarian and successful pilot of a small boat across the wild Southern Ocean and Frank Worsley of the EnduranceTheir stories are interwoven with the author s account of his own transatlantic passage aboard Saecwen in , using the very same navigational tools as Captain Cook, and the book is infused with a sense of wonder and dramatic discoveryA heady mix of adventure, science, mathematics and derring do, Sextant is a timeless tale of sea faring and exploration A love letter to the sea, it is narrative history for star gazers and sailors, for everyone with a love of salty breezes and a sense of adventure Beautifully produced, Sextant offers storytelling at its very best


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

  1. Bandit Bandit says:

    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 ahumorous and amusingly irreverent approach I am actually genuinely interest in some of the topics covered in the book, su


  2. Paul Paul says:

    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 acr


  3. Tim Tim says:

    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


  4. Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin says:

    This book is about voyages of mapping and exploration of the 18th and 19th century Some of the names are famous like Cook and Banks on the Emdevour or Fitzroy and Darwin on the Beagle or Shackleton on the Endurance Some are less well know like Vancouver s exploration of the Pacific Northwest for which the city is named for There are others like Bougainville and Flinders The book writ


  5. Cheryl Cheryl says:

    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 amodern 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, an


  6. Rachel Parham Rachel Parham says:

    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 th


  7. Tom Darrow Tom Darrow says:

    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 ter


  8. Allen Murphey Allen Murphey says:

    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 rem


  9. John Benson John Benson says:

    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. Martin Martin says:

    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 goe


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