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 Hakluyt is a purpose built sailboat designed to endure the rigors of high latitude sailing and remote exploration

"As it is 'easy' to climb up to Disko island, going further north requires specific preparation of the boat and great caution." - Gilbert Caroff

Hakluyt'S Astrolabe And Logo

GPS - Shmee PS


The Astrolabe is perhaps one of the most complex, intriguing, interesting, vexing, and beautiful navigational aids ever created.  They are often exquisitely ornate and intricate.  


S/V Hakluyt's Astrolabe is pictured below. 


We looked up "astrolabe" in the dictionary - and the definition caught our eye:


Astrolabe [ as-truh-leyb ]    Noun:    Not a "plug and play device" - but on a positive note, does not require electricity or satellites to operate.  Yet it will still faithfully provide a qualified user with an approximate amount of interesting information that is perhaps useful for navigation.  Astrolabes contain a complicated stack of dials and plates where stars may appear larger than they appear in real life.  One must know the season, the time, where north is, which 'climate' to use, and which part of the astrolabe is the rete (the center is generally easier to find).  Astrolabes may require a great deal of luck to operate - or not.  Do not operate if taking medication or intoxicated."  


Not all astrolabes are created equal.  Their beauty is often found in their Da Vinci like detail - like functional artwork.  Some have inlaid jewels or precious stones representing stars or astral body locations.  Historians suggest the original astrolabes date back to 200 b.c. They were perfected over time and became a standard instrument in the Middle Ages (6th century).  In the 6th century, the astrolabe was the personal computer of the day and was certainly unwelcome to 6th century luddites.  A better known navigational instrument, the "sextant", is a derivative progression of the astrolabe.  By any measure, a quantum leap in navigational accuracy.   

The astrolabe is especially interesting to Wes.   He purchased one in New Mexico in 2004 not knowing what it really was, or how it would circle back later in his life - he was fascinated by its raw beauty and exquisite intricacy.    


"What is it?" - Wes asked the Sante Fe antique dealer 

"Its an Astrolabe" - Came the instant response from behind a cluttered desktop situated in the store corner

 "Whats an asruuuuulaaavbb?"  - Wes inquired


"Astrolabe.  It was designed by old smart people to navigate and determine planting seasons" - Responded the knowledgable antique dealer

"Navigate? Seriously? How old is it?" - Wes asked

"It came from Mesopotamia, and while I don't have documentation to prove it, I can say with certainty, its over 100 years old and therefore an antique."  - Replied the possibly grifting antique dealer sensing a quick and easy transaction


"Does it still work?"  - Wes asked, already convinced of its value but uncertain of how it operated


"It comes with a lifetime guarantee" - The dealer responded

SV Hakluyt now has a backup navigational instrument, a real live astrolabe (climates, center point, and rete included), in case GPS satellites suddenly stop working and dead reckoning fail.  However, he will need to learn  to read Mesopotamian Arabic to understand the markings and climates before employing it.

S/V Hakluyt's Astrolabe

Click on images to enlarge

Plate example 1
Plate example 2

S/V Hakluyt's Astrolabe photos © MDO.PHOTOGRAPHY

Hakluyt's Astrolabe
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