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Celestial Navigation

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So I picked up this handbook on Celestial Navigation in a yachting store on Granville Island in Vancouver.

Celestial Navigation for Yachtsmen

Has anyone ever tried this?

I have always wanted to know how this works, especially after hearing about the guy who went to Micronesia to hang out with The Last Navigator

(Not just because I watched Master and Commander) :-)

If anyone has tried navigating this way is it difficult to learn?

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    Will O'Neil

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Forty-five years ago I spent two years as navigator of the ammunition ship (!) USS Vesuvius (AE 15) of the U.S. Navy, crossing the Pacific three times. We navigated very much as Captain Cook had in the same waters, two centuries before, and never failed to find our way. It was not very difficult then, and it is a good deal easier today. I'd encourage you to try it.

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check out this site:


They have been sailing the Hokulea all over the pacific out of Hawaii using this navigation for a couple of decades.

Some of the physical cartography (as opposed to performance or oral cart) from the pacific island communities are star maps created with shells and sticks that map navigation routes or star relations.

I haven't learned much of it but have a couple of friends that can sail this way. It most definitely works quite well if one is well versed, but I'm partial to GPS these days (until the batteries die). At least a little knowledge of this type of nav on the water is probably a good thing to know.


Martin Gamache

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Volume two, book 3 of The History of Cartography focuses on traditional cartography and has an extensive section on Pacific societies navigation methods. It is by far my favourite book in the series.

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