A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Mark Coady
Date: 2016 Jul 20, 10:25 -0700
I understand the point certainly, but actually I would take my sextant with me. It's usefulness or not would be somewhat dependent on circumstance. I will confine my thoughts to a "liferaft" which has mostly drift capbilities. Obviously any type of jury rigged vessel with sailing capabilities of any kind increases the desireability of navigational devices. I am assuming you also equipped it with a personal watermaker and fishing gear.
The reasons I might want to take my sextant are based on two things: the physical and psychological.
1. Obtaining positon might provide guidence in:
If i were to drift through a shipping lane, it might provide when to deploy my sea anchor to prolong my drift time in that lane. If i were drifting toward one, I would not deploy it to increase travel toward it. Areas outside of shipping lanes may be untraveled to an extreme.
If I were say drifting through or toward chains of islands, it might provide positve ID on my landfall. It might also prove to me it is in my best interest to move on, before or after foraging. Many small attols & islands lack water and resources. I might then decide to drift on because better landfalls might lay in my drift path near ahead. Or more traveled ones at least.
My sextant has a 7x telescope and a mirror. That increases my distance vision, and gives me a signaling device that might attract attention at a distance in open ocean.
If I were to make a landfall by drift, it might tell me what direction to head for help or resources if i was still ambulatory but landed in a more remote area. I also might know who to expect to meet for a risk and caution asessment of friendly/hostile so I can decide how I move & behave, and when.
2. Psychologically, even if the above are far fetched in many cases:
People faced with long internment and isolation are often faced with psycolgical effects of boredom. It breeds depression and despair. Sitting in a life raft in open water with nobody else can be mind numbing. It can drive people over the edge.
The sextant in its little waterproof box hopefully with its essential companions provides a daily thing to do, mental stimulation, a way to determine progress, even if uncontrolled. It provides a link to sanity. It provides regimentation. Even if it seems relatively useless, grasping something of familiarity that is mentally stimulating can ward off despair. Discipline, taking care of oneself, recording types of plankton on the pad, fish sightings, all are regimenting oneself to maintaining self direction and discipline rather than sink down and drift into total abandon. That can lead to poor hygiene, foolish acts brought about by lack of thought, etc. You have to be in charge of yourself pschologically in disaster situations, and be your own psychologist.
Oh, yes,LOL, a third reason, if you happen to be sharing a liferaft with someone (or more ludicrous : ) meet another adrift), it will provide ample stimulation arguing the finer points of celestial navigation with him as you drift together aimlessly to your doom.
So yeah, its probably pretty useless, but just in case, I will carry it anyway. At the very least when they find my remains, they will have a chart plot and my sextant to use for the movie...oh wait..never mind...they only make the movie if the guy lived..right?