Let’s Talk about Sextants: Celestial Navigation

November 18, 2021

Author: Audrey Cardwell & Sophia Lacambra , Brevard College & Barnard College

Captain Sean demonstrating how to use the sextant on the quarterdeck.

Ship's Log

Noon Position
Lat 30˚ 14.1’ N x Lon 123˚ 48.6’ W

Weather / Sail Plan
Sailing under the Jib, Fore & Main Staysails, and Mainsail Winds Force 3 from the W

Taffrail Log
332.0 nm

Souls on Board

At promptly 1430, the ship’s company met on the quarterdeck in the afternoon sun for our daily class. Some shipmates shared reports on engineering (Audrey), navigation (Oscar), science (Cassie, Hannah, & Alice), and a field weather report (Carson & Sophia). Some things to note from these reports…

Stevie making her first attempt at shooting the sun.* Our first science deployment was a success! The science team deployed a carousel and a neuston tow net after a few days of technical difficulties that prevented us from doing so. Thanks to our Chief Scientist, Jan, for being a super nerd and getting our systems back up and running.

* On the engineering front, a crisis was averted yesterday! With the majority of the ship’s company looking on, our Chief Engineer took a chilly dunk in the big blue about 200nm off the coast of California to remove a colony of mussels that made home in one of our pipes, causing a flood in the lab on deck.

* As for the weather there is a low pressure system to the north of us that we are currently outrunning and enjoying a sunny day with puffy cumulus clouds. After the entertaining reports given we finally broke out the sextants! We’ve been learning about how to use these celestial navigation instruments and all the various calculations that are associated with them for the past few weeks. Captain Sean led us in a lesson on how to properly shoot the sun with a sextant to begin the process of determining our location the old fashioned way. It definitely took some practice but we’re getting there! Hopefully we won’t sail a circle back to California...

In other news, we’ve all managed to all get our sea legs under us after a few days of touch and go. We are now taking from the sea more than we are giving back to it…if you know what we mean. Thanks to our stewards, Ashley and Talia, for all of the saltines and candied ginger!

With weather warming and sunny skies ahead we continue onwards towards the equator.

- Audrey Cardwell (Brevard College) and Sophia Lacambra (Barnard College)

Contact: Douglas Karlson, Director of Communications, 508-444-1918 | dkarlson@sea.edu

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