Herndon's Sextant (Octant )- The Key Navigational Tool of the S.S. Central America [158843]

Currency:USD Category:Artifacts / Shipwreck Artifacts Start Price:2,500.00 USD Estimated At:5,000.00 USD and UP
Herndon's Sextant (Octant )- The Key Navigational Tool of the S.S. Central America [158843]
13,000.00USD+ (2,600.00) buyer's premium + applicable fees & taxes.
This item SOLD at 2022 Dec 03 @ 12:11UTC-8 : PST/AKDT
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This is quite simply the most important artifact on the S.S. Central America. Without it, no one ever would have found the ship. Without it, Capt. Herndon would not have been able to holler the coordinates to Capt. Stone of the Schooner El Dorado. Without it, the Ship of Gold would have remained lost on an ocean floor so massive that it is like looking for a pinhead in more than five million football fields. When Bob Evans spotted what appeared to be the ship's sextant on the ocean floor, he knew an attempt had to be made at recovering this remarkable device. A sextant is a very delicate navigational tool, that when used in conjunction with chronometer and a nautical almanac, was the only way to locate your present position out in the open ocean. By utilizing many components with complicated internal workings and some fancy math, longitude and latitude can be calculated. Without it, you're lost. Thought to be invented in 1751, the sextant was the advanced brother of a celestial navigational tool called Hadley's Quadrant, which had been invented twenty years earlier. These devices could measure the angles between different celestial bodies in comparison to the horizon and known Greenwich Mean Time. Interestingly enough, fragments of celestial navigation devices similar to a sextant have recently been discovered in much older wrecks, and unraveling the mystery of how man navigated on the ocean through time is still in the discovery phase. The instrument here is known as an octant, a variety and a brother of the sextant, and is a remnant of the original. It has many of the intricate cross beams and none of the parts. It is delicate, to say the least. But this is Herndon's navigational instrument. An octant is similar to a sextant, but it is built on a 45-degree angle -- one-eighth of a circle -- with a scale from zero to 90 degrees used to measure the angular distance above the horizon. A sextant is built on a 60-degree angle -- one sixth of a circle -- with a scale from zero to 120 degrees used to measure the angular distance between objects in the sky. In 2014, more than twenty years had passed since the last recovery of gold and artifacts in 1991. New methods were used at sea, new recovery techniques invented, and better processes of discovery were in place. One of those processes was establishing an accurate photo-mosaic and tracking lines to graphically locate and map the ship's remains. During this process, the octant was discovered. As a tremendously delicate object, the crew built a special spatula designed to carefully slip under the artifact and lift it. With its many parts composed of different materials that deteriorate in a different way in the seabed environment where it sat, it was a gamble to even touch it on the ocean floor. After 150 years of exposure was there any competence left at all in any of the components? The crew had extensive experience with iron artifacts on the ocean floor. As an example, when the purser's safe was located during the 2014 mapping process, as soon as the feelers of the recovery vehicle barely and lightly touched the safe, some external parts exploded into a cloud of iron dust. The only thing left were the contents, which had only just begun the degradation process because of the lack of oxygen. This is why the silver coins, coin bags, vest, and papers are so well preserved today. As the special spatula was carefully placed under the octant, it was indeed incompetent, a mere shadow or "ghost" of its original self. With great care, the ghost was removed, recovered, and conserved as best as possible to this point. We have placed these remnants in a soft nest to retain the original juxtapositions as found. The lenses and other recoverable parts are present. Captain Herndon's use of the octant in the eye of the hurricane was magnificent. Through its use over the last 40 hours of the ship's life, he recorded their position accurately whenever cloud cover allowed. This navigational position, determined by celestial readings and complex calculations, allowed him to communicate the Central America's exact position to a passing vessel an hour before the sinking. This position and set of coordinates nudged Columbus America's probability map to the west, and the S.S. Central America was found at the western edge of the search area. "We should have given this coordinate more weight in our analysis," said Bob Evans. "It became key in leading us to the place where the ship was found 7,200 feet deep, about 150 years later." The Ship of Gold was not lost. It was close to where Captain Herndon told the world where it was it in 1857.

Date: 1857
Country (if not USA):
Provenance: SS Central America Collection