Sunsights

Originally written somewhere in the Pacific

Sunsights are when you take your sextant and measure the height of the sun above the horizon. With this measurement, a bit of maths and some drawing lines on a chart; you can calculate your position. I have a great picture of two sailors stood on the deck of a ship taking their sights – and feel jealous every time I see it.

On a good day, I can sit comfortably on the coach roof with a clear view of both the sun and the horizon. I don’t remember such a day this trip. At the very least the boat is rolling so I need to jam myself in some where and the mainsail rocks gently in front of the horizon occasionally.

Jammed on the coach roof searching for the sun

Yesterday I was jammed in to a corner of the cockpit trying to sight the sun under the radar and the solar panels while the horizon disappeared behind the outboard motor and windvane. Occasionally there would be a clear view past everything and, if we were really lucky, no wave blocking the horizon and no cloud in front of the sun.

With two hands needed to operate the sextant I was falling over each time the boat rolled in the swell. Heidi, who also needed her hands free to write down times and measurements, jammed herself against me and held me tight. Together, we managed to take the sights and document them but it was a challenge.

Sunsights. Just another example of the difference between theory and practice.

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