"OK, wait...Got it!" says Jelte. "Kees, did you mark the time?
The sextant angle is 37 degrees, 20.8 minutes" As the time and angle between the horizon and the star is written down with the aid of a small red torch on the dark poopdeck Maarten urges on: "Right guys, that was Sirius, now we can see Canopus as well. Look at it's changing colors,go ahead...Shoot!" And while we try to find the small star in the viewer of the instrument and bring it down to the dim horizon to measure it's height, Maarten already mentions another one: "Acrux, a star of the Southern Cross will be next!"
And we are lucky!
For days now Europa has been sailing in the Tradewinds and the clear and almost cloudless skies present us a magical starcarpet when it gets dark. These skies are only found at sea or in the desert. It's a perfect opportunity for the students of the Enkhuizer Zeevaartschool (the nautical college in Enkhuizen) to grab the sextant that are on board the Europa and practice their celestial navigation. And we are lucky! We have Maarten with us. Also a student of the school in Enkhuizen but with a tremendous knowledge of the stars and it's constellations. He has given a few lectures on the dark fore- and poopdeck, and with his typical enthusiasm he shared his knowledge. Everybody listened quietly, even the permanent crew was there, during these entertaining talks. It was during these evenings that we got really inspired to put the celestial navigation we've studied at school into practice. The stars came alive because of Maarten's keenness to teach us who's who in the skies. The position acquired that evening -called the fix- was close enough to our GPS position to be proud. Thanks Maarten!
Approximately 2500 miles of 'starry' nights to go...
South Atlantic 0º55'9 S 19º18'3 W (GPS position...;-)