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Old 02-01-2018, 11:08 PM   #1
Join Date: Feb 2018
Home Port: Whitefish
Posts: 1
Default plotting tools

I'm new to the forum and this is my first post so apologies if this has been addressed before. I' preparing to prepare for a passage to Mexico and later Polynesia. Right now I'm working on navigation techniques. The boat I'm about to make an offer on has a plotter but I'm a DIY guy. I' looking for a source for plotting tools - parallel rules, dividers, protractor, etc. I looked at Landfall and they have a lot of Weems & Plath stuff at maybe reasonable prices. But this could add up in a hurry. Is there a celestial expert out there with a recommendation?

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Old 02-02-2018, 02:13 AM   #2
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Join Date: Jan 2005
Home Port: Darwin
Vessel Name: Sandettie
Posts: 1,917

Hi Mitch and welcome to the CL site. There are many of us still sailing who commenced our boating love affair well before the advent of satellite navigation. A cheap RDF, sextant, calipers, protractor, a thousand pencils and other bits were a part of the nav desk. Thankfully, most of these things are still necessary for pilotage and, for those who still love to use paper charts, they are still vital to an extended passage.

It's fun to use a sextant and, if you look on ebay, you will still find Davis Mk25 instruments for sale for between $200 and $500, and the Davis Mk15 is also a good bet at an average, I guess, of about $120.They are light, accurate and relatively inexpensive. The same goes for all the other chartroom instruments. They can be bought from ebay, but they are also available for not a lot of money from the big chandleries such as West Marine. Weems and Plath remains a great name and their gear is good, but as with jeans, many manufacturers equal Levi's at a fraction of the cost.

Another good source of nav instruments is the local marine bookstore...in fact any reseller who stocks marine charts will have what you need. Also take a look at Amazon and search for Davis instruments kits.

Aside from the basics as above, you will need a good hand held compass (search for vintage Sestrell, Saura or Plastimo), a cheap digital anemometer ($20 brand new), mouth operated fog horn (these are about $10 and work brilliantly with little effort...and they can frighten the c**p out of the cat...or small children) and you will need a high output LED spotlight (for determining just how long it will be before you hit the rocks when your anchor is dragging in a gale, in the middle of the night.

I am guessing that Whitefish is the one in Montana US. I don't know if there are any big boat jumble sales/flea markets there, but generally in sailing communities, these are always good for a few good cheap items.

I hope you find what you are looking for and look forward to hearing more from you.
PS. There are now a lot of good e-programs which make celestial and sun plotting a whole lot easier than burrowing into math and sight reduction tables. And while Norries and such are nice additions to the boating bookshelf, they're not quite so valuable as they used to be.
"if at first you don't succeed....Redefine success"!

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