By David Barrie
This is an absoulutely wonderful hymn to the sextant as an elegant instrument, and the reward of fixing your position by reference to the heavens, and not just by pushing a button.
Barrie begins with his first voyage across the north Atlantic about which he says “the 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 truely sublime experience”.
The book also introduces the great explorers of the 18th and 19th centuries. Included, among others, are Cook, Bougainville, La Perouse, Vancouver, Flinders and Worsley. It includes a much more balanced history of the lunar/Maskelyne/Harrison Clock debate than is seen elsewhere. The classical astronomers and almanac compilers who followed Copernicus are mentioned. Polynesian methods are described briefly but with credible detail. HC, 2014, 340 npages. SW 1.0 lb