Our Guiding Light

The sextant is a miracle object all of its own. It guided us every day for 30 days across the Atlantic Ocean, it found “needles in haystacks” of tiny islands in the middle of nowhere, it carried us to California, it was never wrong. As I noted earlier on several occasions, pleasure craft satellite navigation was in its infancy in the 1980s, and GPS systems were non-existent. We didn’t have enough money to buy an extensive radar system, so navigating with the sextant, just like the early explorers did, was our only option. But just as important is the memory the sextant evokes of our dear friend and mentor to Michel, Pierre. Pierre was a weekend sailor, a venerated "sage," and a fatherly figure to us. He encouraged us to follow our dream voyage. It was his dream too that he would never fulfill. Only about a week before we left, he sat Michel down on the beach, and gave him a lesson with the sextant. He demystified the whole process for Michel and I was forever grateful that Pierre gave us his “guiding light.” This ancient and beautiful device sits on our shelf today, just as ready to function as it always did. It’s a beautiful object to look at, a work of engineering art and furthermore, it embodies Pierre.