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[pct-l] What's a backstaff?


I'm listening to a book-on-tape called the Birds of Prey about sailors off
of Africa in the 1600's.  In preparation to take an extended journey by
foot across land they list the top three essentials; compass, chart (map)
and a good backstaff.  

Well, being a journeyist across extensive land, the first two made a lot of
sense, but what the hell is a backstaff, I wondered?

A site on the web came to my aide indicating that a backstaff is a
precursor to the mariner sextant and when used properly gives accurate
latitude from stars or the sun.

Isn't it interesting that we rely so much on accurate maps now that we take
it for granted and no longer would even consider carrying such a device.
Any crester out there ever carry a sextant to chart his northward (or
southward) progress?

Happy New Year, Good Luck and Godspeed '98ers!

Greg "Strider" Hummel
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