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Navigation is the story of the evolution of tools, of practical people making the best use of the materials and means at hand. As each generation of mariners sought to answer the question, "Where am I?", the instruments in this book were invented, rediscovered, and redesigned in a diversity that defies the imagination.
Latitude Hooks and Azimuth Rings is for people who like to work with their hands and who appreciate traditional nautical craftsmanship. You don't have to be the master of any craft to undertake any of these projects--from a simple kamal or latitude hook to the more-complex pelorus or octant--just a careful and enthusiastic worker.
The 18 projects fall roughly into three categories: decorative, useful, and somewhere in between. Some, such as the astrolabe, are mainly for display. On the other hand, the sounding line is an important and practical tool for small-craft navigation, particularly in the absence of an electronic sounder. The cross-staff falls somewhere in between, equally at home in the den or the ditch kit.
Each of the devices discussed here--with simple, proven building instructions complemented by clear illustrations--has at one time or another been used for the practical business of navigation, and each is worth reviving for its beauty, historic value, or sheer usefulness.
Dennis Fisher has designed these objects with an emphasis on simplicity and reasonable cost. Everything can be scratch-built using easily obtainable materials and tools, and each is true to the spirit and function of the original instrument.