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Hardy navigator makes his own

Jan 1, 2003

Dropping his sextant into the North Atlantic didn't deter a participant in this year's Bermuda One-Two Race from winning the celestial navigation trophy.

On his way to Bermuda from Newport, solo-sailor Francis Chichowski quickly fashioned a device similar to a kamal, an ancient Arabic tool used for measuring the sun's angle, out of a transparent plastic ruler, a length of twine, a lens from a pair of sunglasses, and some surgical tape. Chichowski noted in his log, "Sextant overboard on this shot (discouraging)." After making his jury-rigged sextant he was back on deck taking sights. "With this," he noted later, "I'm ready to find Bermuda."

Chichowski employed the device by gripping the end of the string in his teeth, holding the ruler in one hand and stretching it out toward the horizon. He then slid the marker (and the lens) up or down to measure the sun's angle.

The only drawbacks, he conceded, was being partially blinded by the weak filters and only being able to shoot the sun at low angles. Chichowski was awarded an A.G.A. Correa/Ritchie Telltale Compass by Ocean Navigator for his efforts.


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