A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Greg Rudzinski
Date: 2016 Mar 10, 07:24 -0800
Wikipedia offers a short explanation of history and use. References are lacking. Literal translation : Kamal - excellence (arabic); Kamala - light red (hindi)
I have made several types of kamals over the years and find them accurate up to 12° altitude and good enough up to 25°. Above 25° requires switching to the cross staff to maitain useful accuracy.
I read somewhere that pirate avoidance was the big motivator for hiring the kamal equipped Indian Ocean pilots. Sailing dhows between Bombay and The Red Sea area would have had pilots with kamals aboard. Navigating by Polaris 1000 years ago would have required a larger correction vs. today. A second kamal overlapping the first was used to help correct for the Polaris offset. I haven't seen any details or explanations anywhere regarding the second kamal or how to use it.