Surf Tips

HOW TO: Navigate Without Instruments

HOW 2: Navigate Without Instruments.

Shipwreck is gnarly. Sure, it’s unlikely, but if fate should be so that it were to happen to you, some old school navigation skills aren’t gonna hurt now, are they?

Celestial navigation: Northern Hemisphere.
First you need to find Ursa Major. This constellation is everyone’s fave, the big dipper, the plough, etc, the one that looks like a ladle with a big handle. The pointer stars, the two stars of the end upright of the ladle point towards Polaris.

Polaris is located about five times the distance from it than the distance between the two pointer stars. Polaris is in a constellation called the Little Dipper, the end star of the ‘handle’ of the Little Dipper, and also the brightest star in this constellation.

From Polaris, a line down to the earth’s horizon will give you north. Once you’ve found north, well, everyone remembers the old saying from school right? Going anticlockwise: NWSE (Never Wread Surf Europe).

If you are in the southern hemisphere, you can use the Southern Cross and the Two Pointers. If you draw a line lengthwise along the SC, and another line perpendicular between the stars of the TP, where the two lines meet is the south celestial pole.

The Polynesians used a system called Wayfaring, using stars, the moon, trade winds, swell direction as well as wildlife to navigate about the South Pacific. During the day obviously we don’t have stars, so being aware of the predominant trade is a decent bet for gaining a sense of direction, as with the predominant swell direction.

In terms of locating landfall, birds fly away from land during the morning in the search for food, and towards it again in the afternoon/at dusk. Remember that.


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