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For Van Read Boat

Someone is watching you!

Progress with the East Midlands Branch Astro-Van has languished, because of the shortage of one vital component, a caravan. Not wishing to let the idea go off the boil, we decided to convert river cruiser Zephyr instead. We made a new hatch with a suitable hole to take the Smiths sextant mounting liberated from Dominie XS714 when she was scrapped. The new hatch just sits in place of the original, so it can be removed when not required. The recess would catch rain and cause leaks. The RAF Mk2C sextant pushes up in the normal way, and two AA batteries are attached to the power lead. The swivel eyepiece allows different heights of operator to use the sextant easily. Unlike some sextants, you have to wind the Smith’s sextant up to get the reference. It’s like that so you don’t try to start an unwound sextant in a noisy dark aeroplane. As you don’t need to use the averaging mechanism when stationary, you have to remember to run it down again when you’re finished to ease the spring. We’ve recently had our first tryout. Everything fitted, but someone (I can’t think who) had messed up the marking-out, and the 10mm chamfer built in to allow for the fore and aft slope of the roof had found itself applied athwart-ships instead. Fortunately, the vessel has a natural list in that direction, so it looks as though it’s there on purpose. The Smiths mounting still has plenty of wiggle angle left, so we figure if we don’t tell anyone, no one will notice. Unfortunately, it was 8/8 cloud all day, so we’ll have to wait until next visit to shoot some astro.

  • 14 August 2015
  • East Midlands Branch

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