Henry Howey Shufeldt, 87, a retired Navy captain, leading expert on sailing and navigation and the author of several books and articles on those subjects, died Nov. 1 at Anne Arundel General Hospital after a heart attack.
Capt. Shufeldt, a resident of Annapolis for the last 30 years, wrote much of the material in the early 1960s for the 12th edition of Dutton's "Navigation and Piloting," a basic text on navigation and ship handling published by the U.S. Naval Institute.
He was coauthor in 1981 of "The Calculator Afloat." According to Richard Hobbs, an editor at the Naval Institute, it is one of the few authoritative and comprehensive books in print on the use of hand calculators for navigation.
Although not widely known outside the nautical community, Capt. Shufeldt's work was familiar to navigators, sailors and yachtsmen all over the world. Since his retirement from active duty in 1954, he had been a consultant to the Navy on his field of expertise. He remained in the Naval Reserve until 1960.
"He was one of the world's leading experts on celestial navigation," said retired Rear Adm. Gene R. LaRocque, the director of the Center for Defense Information in Washington.
Although a variety of sophisticated electronic instruments now are used to establish a ship's location at sea, those systems sometimes fail and "no ocean liner or sailing yacht would go to sea without a knowledge of how to judge where you are from looking at the stars," said LaRocque.
Born in Chicago, Capt. Shufeldt was raised in the United States and England. He served as an enlisted man in the Army in Europe during World War I. Between the wars he developed an interest in sailing and navigation and earned a living in the yacht and brokerage businesses in New York and Chicago.
He received a commission in the Navy at the outbreak of World War II. His wartime assignments included commands of a repair ship and an ammunition ship in the Atlantic and the Pacific and serving as an instructor in navigation at the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis.
In 1948 he commanded the yawl, Saluda, the last operational sailing vessel the Navy had in commission, on a three-month voyage from Annapolis through the Panama Canal to San Diego. The Saluda later was used to track whales. The Constitution, which is maintained as a museum in Boston Harbor, is the only sailing vessel now in commission in the Navy.
In retirement, Capt. Shufeldt was a founder and director of the Pearson and Bristol Yacht Corp., a yacht manufacturing company based in Bristol, R.I. He also was a member of the New York Yacht Club and in 1982 was admitted to the Royal Institute of Navigation in England.
Survivors include his wife, Hilyer, of Annapolis; two daughters, Alexina Shufeldt and Ann Copeland, both of New York City, and two grandchildren.