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    Re: re posts on buying a sextant
    From: Andrew Seligman
    Date: 2011 Apr 8, 20:09 -0400

    Captain Andrew F. Seligman
    U.S.C.G. Licensed Master
    Certified ASA Sailing Instructor

    On Apr 8, 2011, at 5:30 PM, Anabasis75@aol.com wrote:

    C&P seems to still be going strong.  I was just looking at their online catalog yesterday.  http://www.cassens-plath.de/index.php?id=18   They are more into magnetic and other style compasses, but still make sextants as well.
    My C&P bought a couple years ago now was made a few weeks before I received it, so I am pretty sure that their production runs are pretty small and infrequent.
    As for buying a sextant.  I would first look at your goals and financial position. 
    If you are just interested in getting some readings to play with mathematics and aren't interested in maximum precision, then a nice Davis plastic sextant might do the trick.  Likewise, if you are not sure if you are going to like CelNav, this might also be the way to go since they are relatively inexpensive.
    If you are a CelNav hobbyist and are interested in shooting lunars and really refining your skills, I would suggest a metal sextant.  The Astra IIIb is a good choice for this if the budget is lacking, and any of the other makes are great if you have slightly looser purse strings.  Ebay finds will also be a good choice for the hobbyist, but caveat emptor, since any damage will be hard to notice by an ignorant seller and may be difficult and/or expensive to repair.
    If you are navigating a vessel of any size on the oceans and will need to actually use the LOP's then I would strongly suggest getting a new, metal sextant.  You won't have to worry about prior abuse and you can be certain that the positions will be free from practical error.  Any of the current brands will be suitable for this purpose.
    Once you have made the major choices of metal or plastic and new and used, you have to decide  what quality and features you want on your sextant.
    For me it was all about the polarizing shades on the C&P Horizon Ultra.  I love them, and was willing to pay for them.  In addition, I like high magnification scopes, so the 7x35 went in the box as well as a bottle of lubricating oil.
    On small boats a lower powered scope is better.  3-4x is probably best.  For lunars or on stable platforms (land and ships), I'd suggest a 6-7x scope.
    For land based sextant users, I'd suggest either a bubble horizon attachment or artificial horizon to make inland use possible.
    If you want to get fancy, a 5x data-scope can be added as well as an astigmatizer but these are pretty low down on the list of accessories.
    There is much debate on the type of horizon mirror.  The whole horizon mirror is easier to use, especially with lower power scopes, but you can loose the horizon at the edge of twilight.  Traditional half-mirrored glasses are better at the edge of twilight, but get annoying when trying to rock the body on the horizon, or finding a star in rough seas.  The best of both worlds can be had with a traditional mirror and high powered (7x) scope, but these are hard to use on small boats.  I have used both kinds extensively and much prefer the whole horizon with a 4x scope and the traditional with a 7x scope.  If I had to choose between one or the other, I'd choose a whole horizon mirror for ease of use despite it's limitations. 

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