Emergency Navigation (2nd Edition).

David Burch’s book is a comprehensive review of emergency navigation at sea that is a
pleasure to read. Th roughout the book he keeps returning to fi rst principles of navigation,
which he expounds with admirable clarity. His emergency procedures are explained in
terms of natural (oft en astronomical) laws, so that their rationale is fully comprehensible and their
practical applications and limitations clearly defi ned. Th e book is a far cry from some emergency
handbooks, with their mixed bag of semi-anecdotal advice, and is not intended to serve as such.
Yet in an emergency situation, with the sextant overboard and the watch broken, it would be of
far more use to the unfortunate mariner.
But this work, despite its title, is far more than an essay on the principles and practice of
emergency procedures. It is a particularly well-written account of the principles of navigation in
general, and as such, cannot fail to bring fresh insights to all of us. Certainly it clarifi ed for me
certain areas of nautical astronomy that I thought I had grasped, but had not.
It is rare to read a book that is equally successful in expounding matters of principle and the
practical realities of their application on the real ocean, but David Burch has succeeded in this
It is well to be overly conservative in matters of marine navigation—the reefs of the Pacifi c are
littered with the wrecks of the overconfi dent. I merely want to stress that emergency navigation,
as explained by David Burch, is not so very hard. Given this book to study, its practice is within
the reach of any of us.

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