Saturday, 26 March 2016

Second hand metal sextant

I learnt celestial navigation on an RYA Yachmaster Ocean course in the 1980s, from a woman who lived in rural Oxfordshire and whose name I am sorry I cannot recall. She had many ocean crossings under her belt and had a wonderfully un-mathematical way of understanding the mathematics and an incredible ability to recognise navigational stars as they peeped out from between clouds perhaps by knowing where they should be and their colour and magnitude but with out the need for constellations as a guide.

Davis Mark 3
My first sextant was a Davis Mk 3, a very cheap plastic vernier sextant while much better than it looks (it looks like a toy) it is not very accurate. A few years ago I bought a Davis Mk 25 and could find my position on dry land to within about a nautical mile by sun sights. Better than that if I averaged five sights and used liner regression. My problem with the Mk 25 is that it seems to need alignment every time I use it. I like the "beam converger" which means you can see the sun and the horizon superimposed across the full width of view.

Mark 25
Eventually I decided to buy a "proper" metal sextant. I bought a Tamaya MS-2L for £275 on ebay. It was made in 1984 and as far as I can tell has sat on a merchant ship unused all its life until the ship was broken up in India and it fell in to the hands of a dealer. Its certificate says it has a fixed error of 0''.  It has a 7x35 monocular scope and I added a zero magification sight tube from Celestaire.   . It comes in a very practical protective plastic case. I am still getting used to using it. For example it is much heavier and taking a series of sights in rapid succession and you feel the weight. Also it takes some getting used to using the monocular as it is harder to find a star. As expected though it stays in adjustment unlike the Davis.

I understand that modern new Chinese Astra sextants are excellent value and in particular lighter, but a good Tamaya is probably the best value to be found second hand. 

I look forward to trying my new one at sea!

Leaving Hartlepool

A couple of photos by Matt Colquhoun of Tui leaving Hartlepool Marina bound for Grimsby.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Photos from first trip of 2016

Scarborough,   Flamborough Head

First outing of the season, Hartelpool to Grimsby

We were offered a long term visitors berth at Humber Cruising Association last November, but there followed a series of named storms so we didn't venture out. Its all very well insisting there is no off-season for sailing but the reality is we only got moderate northerly winds with a ridge of high pressure and that means it is cold.

By March we had high pressure and winds W or NW 3 or 4 forecast and reasonable temperatures (up to 10 deg C).  We had clear skies, no swell except a horrible one the first day. We saw porpoises, seals and no other yachts.

It was sad to leave Hartlepool. One of the friendliest and most economical commercial marinas we have encountered. While the town is not so interesting near the marina are big supermarkets, a cinema and a fun maritime museum. The cruising ground is superb with plenty of short hop ports to visit and lots of marine life to see.  It also has the advantage that you can often get out the lock 3 or 4 hours either side of HW.

We spent two nights at Whitby and one at Scarborough.  Whitby is our favourite NE port to visit with a picturesque and vibrant town, shops (including a chandlers) excellent showers. The down side is the swing bridge opens every 30 mins only two hours either side of HW. Like most harbours along the NE coast the port authority staff will often "talk you in" over VHF as they watch you on cameras.  Whitby and Scarborough both said they did not really have visitors berths as they had moved residents on to them for maintenance, but they seem to have a tradition of finding a place for you somewhere. We filled up with diesel from the fuelling point at the fish dock. Commercial quantities means minimum 250L or 55 g. That was what we needed to fill up so fine with advance notice.

It was a shame that we had to motor, as the wind was no more than F3 and we had a schedule driven by tides. But is was sunny, clear and calm, so we couldn't have everything. We saw porpoises on every leg or the trip. They don't seem to stay with us when we are under engine, which was a shame. The seals however pop up to take a good look at us (and maybe to see if we have any fish).

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