×

Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Sextant: A Young Man's Daring Sea Voyage and the Men Who Mapped the World's Oceans
     

Sextant: A Young Man's Daring Sea Voyage and the Men Who Mapped the World's Oceans

4.5 2
by David Barrie
 

See All Formats & Editions

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.

Since its invention in 1759, a mariner's

Overview

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.

Since its invention in 1759, a mariner's most prized possession has been the sextant. A navigation tool that measures the angle between a celestial object and the horizon, the sextant allowed sailors to pinpoint their exact location at sea.

David Barrie chronicles the sextant's development and shows how it not only saved the lives of navigators in wild and dangerous seas, but played a pivotal role in their ability to map the globe. He synthesizes centuries of seafaring history and the daring sailors who have become legend, including James Cook, Matthew Flinders, Robert Fitz-Roy, Frank Worsley of the Endurance, and Joshua Slocum, the redoubtable old "lunarian" and first single-handed-round-the-world yachtsman. He also recounts his own maiden voyage, and insights gleaned from his experiences as a practiced seaman and navigator.

Full of heroism, danger, and excitement, told with an infectious sense of wonder, Sextant offers a new look at a masterful achievement that changed the course of history.

Editorial Reviews

SIMON WINCHESTER
“As lovingly and painstakingly constructed as the navigators’ one irreplaceable talisman, David Barrie’s exquisite book is a hymn to a now-vanishing feature of maritime life, a finely-chased reminder of just how much we all owe to that one small piece of apparatus”
Entertainment Weekly
“Beneath the book’s calm surface churns a melancholic message about how the comfort of technology — symbolized by the sextant’s almighty antagonist, GPS — has turned our gaze away from the stars.”
Shelf Awareness
“Even for armchair adventurers with no sea legs to speak of, Barrie’s Sextant is a compelling read.”
Library Journal
★ 07/01/2014
Before John Hadley and Thomas Godfrey independently came up with designs for the quadrant—a predecessor to the sextant, a navigation tool that measures the angle between a celestial object and the horizon—navigation at sea was less than accurate. Spanish explorer Alvaro de Mendaña, for example, mapped the Solomon Islands at the wrong location, and it was 200 years before they were "discovered" again. The sextant, invented in 1759, changed all that, allowing far more accurate navigation and cartography. Barrie, an experienced sailor and former member of the British Diplomatic Service, takes readers on a tour of the history of maritime navigation, focusing on the role of the sextant in guiding explorers and aiding their efforts to map the globe. He also recalls his own voyage across the Atlantic in 1973. In a wide-ranging discussion covering the principles of celestial navigation as well as the adventures of Captain Cook, Robert FitzRoy, Matthew Flinders, and others, the author offers a detailed picture of premodern sea travel. The epilog compares this form of navigation with today's GPS navigation systems, adding context for the modern reader. VERDICT This informative volume will appeal to maritime historians, sailing enthusiasts, and readers interested in celestial navigation.—Dawn Lowe-Wincentsen, Oregon Inst. of Technology, Portland

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062279347
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
05/13/2014
Pages:
368
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

David Barrie has sailed in many different parts of the world and made many long passages. After serving in the British Diplomatic Service, Barrie worked in the arts and as a law reform campaigner. The great-great-nephew of J. M. Barrie, he is married with two daughters.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Sextant: A Young Man's Daring Sea Voyage and the Men Who Mapped the World's Oceans 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
A_Sloan More than 1 year ago
Tried and true navigation... Unlike the good ole days, sailors now rely primarily on GPS to pinpoint their position at sea, as opposed to more traditional methods like star charting and using the sextant. Thankfully there is a revived interest in traditional boat navigation and ... boatbuilding, which you can learn about in SS Rabl's Boatbuilding in Your Own Backyard. The Sextant reads like an autobiography, novel, and historical account all at once! Dangerous and wonderful adventures of famous sailors and pirates are sprinkled amongst a vivid history of the development and use of the "mariner's most prized possession". Barrie also has a personal story to tell about his experiences with the sextant, which even in our technological age, still has great value! "What could be more wonderful than to join the line of those who have found their way across the seas by the light of sun, moon, and stars?" he asks. By the end of the book he had me and no doubt many readers asking this rhetorical question. This is an entertaining and enlightening read, which has opened my mind to a very respectable tool.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very informative and well written history of naviagation upon the seas.