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    Re: Sextant and iPhone on the QM2
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2013 Nov 15, 10:25 -0800

    Nial McInerney, you wrote:
    "I recently crossed from NYC to Southampton on the Queen Mary and never having used a sextant on a big ship I brought a 3/4 size Simex and my iPhone along."

    That's a great story. :) I read it aloud to the celestial class I was teaching Sunday morning since it gave them a chance to use that exotic height of eye: "190 above the waterline" in a practice problem.

    You added that you "consequently got fixes within .4' of the positions reported from the bridge. This sextant isn't my favorite but is small, light, accurate and easy to pack inside a suit case."

    That's really impressive and tells us also that your sextant is very well adjusted. Of course weather helps. Even a stabilized cruise ship like the QM2 will roll when there are swells and big waves.

    Of your iPhone, you wrote:
    "I was disappointed to find the GPS stopped working about 800 miles into the journey and didn't pick up sat signals again until about 300 miles from the Western Approaches."

    This is fascinating and worthy of a separate thread. Look for a post under "Smartphones at sea".

    You concluded:
    "I spoke to some officers coming off the bridge and they said they never used sextants and didn't even know if there were any aboard. Makes one feel like an idiot to be messing around with obsolete nonsense."

    There's a lot of truth in this. Celestial is a minor backup for large vessels. There are very few scenarios where it would do them any good at all. In the ten years that I have been a member of NavList (my tenth anniversary is in just a couple of weeks), celestial navigation has declined steeply in significance as a real navigation method and even as a practice with historical interest. But "obsolete nonsense" can still be fascinating science --and good fun. :)

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