Back working with the sextant and even though my latest fix puts me near New Orleans (which I am not), at least now I know where I went wrong, which is, of course, half the battle. Phew. It’s finally starting to make some sense. Finally.
AND, finally, the cyanotypes have started to work. Or I’ve started to actually figure that part out too. Relief all round…
The reason I’m so far off with my navigation (apart from trying my best to do this myself without help from Captain Ken) is that I did not realize until today that 12:00 is not actually noon. I know right? But it’s true: clocks “keep the time of a fictitious or mean sun”.
Anyway, little wonder I’m plotting myself as being on the other side of the Gulf of Mexico. There is nothing like navigation to make you feel like a total idiot who knows nothing about the basics of the world.
So now I have to figure out when my ‘local noon’ actually happens. I could, as at sea, take a sight every 3 minutes until the sun’s altitude stops increasing. But as anyone with a toddler knows, trying to do anything every 3 minutes (accurately or not) is an exercise in futility and frustration – plus, I’m not actually moving so I can cheat a bit. Enter, the stick:
finding local noon
I’ll see how this works tomorrow.
The original idea was to take a navigational fix every day using the sextant, plot it on the chart, and then photograph the chart and turn the image into a cyanotype immediately after (using the sun to develop a negative). Simples right?
Well, I’ve done two. Sometimes (ok, quite often), I set myself ridiculously unrealistic goals. It sounded simple (ish), but then I hadn’t used a sextant before or really done many cyanotypes before either. The whole process takes me around 5 hours from start to finish (not accounting for interruptions, so basically it takes the whole day).
So I have a new goal: plot where I am every month as I, quite by serendipitous accident, took my first sight on December 21st (though only completed the calculations later), and then my second today, January 21st. So I’ve decided this will be an ongoing project and not something I’m going to be able to ‘finish’ in the next week. I actually think it’s better this way. I’ll have to make sure I have a chart for wherever I’m going to be on the 21st of the month, and hopefully my navigation will get faster and more accurate (let’s face it, it couldn’t really be any slower or more inaccurate…).
But I’m happy with the photographs I’m getting of the sextant as I fix and correct for ‘index error’ (basically ensuring the horizon lines up):
And there’s some small consolation in having to use my iPhone to take the photos instead of my Nikon that was stolen – I don’t think I would be able to shoot through the sextant telescope with the Nikon anyway (at least that’s what I’m telling myself).
Somehow, in this second to last week here it’s all starting to come together…