Sextant

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

3.84 (285 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

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.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 340 pages
  • 137.16 x 213.36 x 40.64mm | 476.27g
  • William Morrow & Company
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Maps; Halftones, black and white; Illustrations, black and white
  • 0062279343
  • 9780062279347
  • 1,374,994

Review quote

"Even for armchair adventurers with no sea legs to speak of, Barrie's Sextant is a compelling read."--Shelf Awareness
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Back cover copy

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 to the daring mariners who used it to explore, conquer, and map the world.

Barrie takes readers straight to the helm of some of history's most important expeditions, interweaving these heroic tales with the account of his own transatlantic passage as a young man. Among the many inspiring stories are those of the legendary Captain Cook and the great French navigator Jean-Francois de Galaup, comte de La Perouse, whose disappearance has long remained a mystery. Other intrepid navigators include George Vancouver, the indefatigable surveyor of the American northwest; Matthew Flinders, the first to circumnavigate Australia; and Captain Robert FitzRoy of the Beagle. And, along with Joshua Slocum's single-handed yacht voyage around the world, we are told of two almost unbelievable open-boat voyages, undertaken in desperate circumstances by Captain William Bligh and Sir Ernest Shackleton.

A heady mix of adventure, science, mathematics, and derring-do, Sextant is infused with a sense of wonder and discovery. At once a dramatic history of maritime endeavor and a love letter to the sea and sky, it is timeless storytelling at its best.
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Rating details

285 ratings
3.84 out of 5 stars
5 23% (66)
4 45% (128)
3 26% (75)
2 5% (14)
1 1% (2)
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