An Iwasaki Sextant with a Bit of a Mystery


Update:  I have managed to work out that the date of certification is August 16 1970.  The date on the certificate is a Showa date, Showa is part of a system of dates are based on the rule of Emperors, in this case Showa indicates a year is the reign of Emperor Showa or as we knew him Emperor Hirohito. 2016 is Heisei 28, after the current Emperor.

This date matches the condition of the box and sextant and is consistent with other Japanese sextants of a similar vintage.  It also matches the first to digits of the serial number.  This Yamatar sextant made by Taiyo & Co. LTD is almost identical, save that this has a brass scale and is lighted, it was for sale here at the time of writing.

I stumbled on a great deal on a sextant.  The person I bought it from had inherited it some time ago and had no information on its origin.  It is made by in Japan by Iwasaki & Co., Ltd, I have not found any reference to Iwasaki sextants on the internet other than the ad for this one.

The label, partly in English seems to state it was calibrated on August 16, 1945, the day after VJ day.  It is hard to imagine why a Japanese company would have English on a label at that point in history.


Iwasaki seems to be a common name in Japan, the founding family of Mitsubishi is Iwasaki and this family controlled a huge segment of the Japanese commercial cargo fleet at the outset of the war.  It seems possible this might be an in-house instrument company.  Alternately the Iwasaki Electric Company seems to have the right type of history, but again no reference to sextants.  More research seems to point to a number of small companies building sextants in the Tokyo area in the 60s and 70s.

The sextant seems to be very well made, it came with a 4x main telescope and a 12x.  The 12x has an inverted image, but I imagine it will be great for star sights.

DSC00079 12x telescope installed.

The drum does not have a vernier, but it is large and easy to read and I think I can get about 0.2′ precision on readings. The clamp and drum work really nicely and very accurately set up.  The overall condition does not match an instrument that might be over 70 years old. is 46 years old.


DSC00064The label on the case is just in English, could this be from 1945?


I could not be happier with my purchase, but I would love to find some more history of this sextant.

Bringing Mementos aboard

In such a small living space, there is no room for useless knicknacks or mementos, everything has to serve a useful purpose. So, as we are clearing out the land-base, what to do with all those runner’s bibs that adorn our refrigerator door? Can’t bear to part with them, but what use are they, other than for sentimental value? The answer: a lap quilt, for those cool evenings on board when a little blanket over your legs makes relaxing in the salon so much more comfortable. The runner’s bibs can continue to be favourite mementos, while serving a useful purpose aboard!


First step:  After some research, I found fabric sheets that allowed me to use our home printer to copy the bibs onto fabric suitable for sewing. Not cheap (about $3/sheet) but easy to use and look great.



The search for colourful scraps of cotton to surround the bibs gave me extra incentive to clear out my sewing-room closet, killing two birds with one stone. Just look at all those empty cubbies now!



Then it was on to blocking the quilt. Lots of fun, since the bibs were not standard sizes, and I had varying sizes of fabric scraps to work with. Like building a jigsaw puzzle. I am very pleased with the way it looks so far. Still lots of work to do, putting together the layers of batting and backing, then of course all the hand-quilting. That will be my next winter project while living aboard Kinship. Watch for future updates…

Winter Boat Projects

Someone asked me recently if I was getting bored in retirement yet. I assured them NOT! In fact, with all the preparations to be made for the big journey ahead, I have no idea how I would have got it all done if I was still working. Thanks, CMHC, for paying me to stay home and work on boat projects  🙂

Here a few things I have been doing to keep busy:

Taking a Navigation course. Digging up some old skills (when was the last time you were asked to “solve for x”?) and learning some new ones (navigation also has its own language – a cocked hat? Really?)




Stitching a new wheel-cover. Kinship’s wheel got a new paint job over the winter, so the grungy and slightly worn old cover had to go.  Stitching leather, even when the holes are pre-punched, can be a tough job.



Updating important equipment. Kinship came with two essentials for an ocean passage, a first aid kit and a ditch bag, but both were vintage 1998, so they came home for an inventory and update this winter. A quick trip to Ontario Medical supply with a 5-page order for re-fill supplies, and the First Aid Kits are updated and ready to go.



The Ditch Bag is that critical thing you grab on your way into the life-raft, so you definitely want it to be complete. A few trips to the Chandlery, and some on-line shopping for emergency rations, and it is now ready to go too. Here’s hoping we never need it!


So, boredom? Not an issue!