Notable New Books: The American Practical. by Nathaniel Bowditch

A bit over 200 years have elapsed since the great master Nathaniel Bowditch published his ubiquitous New American Practical Navigator, a book that essentially broke the salt barrier of navigation by introducing a more gentile way of deriving “lunars” for position fixing. The American Practical Navigator, known by navigation dorks as H.O. No. 9, is now being published in a bicentennial edition, offered for sale by the U.S. National Imagery and Mapping Agency and by a joint private venture between Celestaire and Paradise Cay Publications. The book is available for $49.95 through the private company and for $65 from the government — a function of the fact that material published by the government cannot be copyrighted. The only difference between the two editions is the fact that the Celestaire/Paradise Cay volume includes some colorized charts and photographs that are printed in black and white in the government edition.

Since buying the copyright from the original publisher, the Blunt family, in 1867, the government has published 52 editions of Bowditch. The book remains an incredible and invaluable resource, the only one of its kind available anywhere. It includes extensive sections on electronic navigation, oceanography and weather, traditional piloting and celestial navigation, charts and chart making. The traditional tables are also included.

National Imagery and Mapping Agency and Celestaire/Paradise Cay; 880 pages.

By Ocean Navigator