Maps and Navigation
If you want to be a good sailor, you will need to know about maps and navigation.
You will have to be able to read maps with latitude and
longitude and navigate through currents and winds.
Not only that, but you will have to use navigational tools to direct your
ship through the currents and winds. You will have to be precise with your
navigating or you may end up hundreds of miles off course!
Download a Freelance Graphics presentation on navigation
Make your own sextant
Sextants have been used by numerous
nations throughout the world. The sextant was a tool that was used consistently
for navigation. Today, it is still being used to navigate the most
difficult conditions. The sextant was designed with the knowledge of the
weather and ocean currents. With the sextant sailors opened new highly
profitable routes for trading, and business.
The lead line was one of the most
primitive tools used on clipper ships.
It consisted of a rope or chain with a weighted bucket
on the end.
It was dropped off the ship until it hit the bottom.
The sailor measured the
rope by fathoms as he let it down. When it
hit bottom it collected a small sample
of the sea bottom. They then determined about where
they were by
what it picked off the bottom and how deep it was.
This also helped them
not to hit the bottom. This device saved many
sailor's lives when they
got lost at sea.
The chronometer was a very accurate
clock used on clipper ships to
determine their position. Clock makers usually set
it to the UTC
(Universal Time Coordinated). To figure their position
on the ocean
the navigator noted the time and calculated the position
of certain stars.
They then compare these positions with tables that
show the star's
position at UTC. It was also called an atomic clock.
The most common navigation instrument found on ships
is the weather vane. They show the wind direction.
weather vane is very helpful when you lose sight
Sometimes when the wind changed direction the vane
would point a different direction and set the ship
The Vikings were one of the first to invent the
bearing circle. It was marked with the position
of the sun at sunrise and sunset. It was used to
find the latitude of a ship using a shadow from
a pin. The course was marked by a pointer on
The sun stone was used to find the location
sun on days that were very cloudy or stormy. One
disadvantage of the sun stone was that it could only
used when there was still a little bit of blue sky
there wasn't any clear sky left the sun stone was
The sun board was an instrument used to measure
the height of the sun. By figuring out the angle
sun compared to the time of the day sailors could
figure out their position in the sea. During cloudy
weather this instrument was impossible to use
making it hard to navigate.
The anchor was a heavy metal object
used on ships. It was used to stop the ship or keep the in one place
over night. It was connected to a large chain or rope which was connected
to the ship. It was put out and retrieved by a capstan (a large drum
turned by wheel-like spokes) which was turned by members of the crew.
Without the anchor many ships would float away.
The semi-wheel was much like today's almanac. It
contained information like the position of the sun
throughout the whole year. It also had information
about where the sun would be during sunsets and
sunrises. They could find out where the sun would
on the horizon. This was an easy way to find your
cardinal directions. (North, South, East or West)
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