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Finding Your Way Without Map or Compass Format Kindle
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I've always thought it would be fascinating to learn navigation or tracking from a native or someone who has learned information that has been passed down from generation to generation. Low tech, but very skillful. Art more than science. That is exactly what this book teaches.
The most interesting part for me was the explanation of how Polynesians navigated at sea: following migrating birds, seeing land beyond the horizon by watching reflections on the bottom of clouds, wave variation, and star positions.
There is a lot of good information for both land and sea, plus some for air. The author taught naviation to the US Air Force about the middle of the 20th century.
If you are travelling in the wilderness (or city; there is even a chapter on how to find your way in a strange city), I strongly recommend this book.
In this book Gatty puts together his broad knowledge of simple navigation techniques used by some of the earliest settlers such as the Vikings, Polynesians, Portuguese, Native Americans and Aborigines. The author does a great job of creating an informative book and conveying it in an interesting way so that it isn't dry. You never know when this information might come in useful, plus you gain a greater appreciation for nature.
I did however find it a wee bit frustrating to read. I've never read a book that beats a dead horse so badly. Halfway through the book I felt that if I read one more word about how 'there's no sixth sense' I was going to burn it. There's even a whole chapter based on it... and this isn't the only point he beats to death either. He's very long-winded when it comes to describing things, for example, here he lists things a person can hear of the land while he is offshore (as if we didn't already know): "He can listen to the sound of chopping, sawmills, church bells, whistles, to the rumble of trains and other industrial and highway noises, to the lowing of cattle, the crowing or cackling of poultry, the bleating of sheep, to waterfalls and rapids or the sea's surf". --now, tell me that couldn't have been shortened a bit. Ugh!
He also tends to give way too many examples from the pages of history or his own experience. While this is pretty informative and sometimes appreciated, it's not the most useful information... like I don't need you to prove what you just said; I believe you, man. Once he explained the point I didn't feel that I learned anything further from him then beating it into me with some explorer's logbook from the year 1577. I definitely feel this book could have been summed up in about 50 pages without leaving anything practically important out. In the end, the information contained within this book is well worth finishing it in spite of any frustrations you just might have while reading it... especially if you don't mind loading up on history facts.
The author, who was an accomplished navigator, describes how to use the wind, sky, clouds, sun, shadows, reflection in the sky, trees, animals, termite mounds, etc. to determine direction (north, south, east, or west). Also, he makes it clear that no part of the world is without signals--whether it be desert, the Arctic, the sea, Antarctica, etc. It is clear that we as a society have lost our quick ability to observe what nature is telling us. This is not a "how to" book; instead the author explains through stories and examples of how previous explorers found their way and how he has done so as well.
In addition to using natural surroundings, he also describes how to navigate your way through towns and cities by determining direction based on the way a house was placed or where the kitchen is. The reason you can do this is that certain regions face their houses toward the sun or toward the wind - it depends on the place.
Of course, this book will only guide you and it is not designed to be your only reference source as the observer must learn the prevailing details associated with their area, such as from which way the prevailing winds blow, before they can be a successful navigator. Mr. Gatty ecouranges you to pay attention to your surroundings and to pick out directional details from everything in your environment (including insects or houses). In a beginning example in the book, he describes how he can tell where a picture was taken, at what time of day, and which direction the house is facing. For instance, in the picture the shadow of the tree is at the base of the tree indicating it's around noon.
Since the author travelled extensively, he was well versed in navigating in almost any terrain and describes his techniques well in a scholarly sort of way. I know that as a result of this guide, I will be paying more attention to what nature is telling me and the natural details typical of my area. I will also pay attention to man-made details such as the way houses are positioned in a specific area of the country. For fun, I will also try to determine what information I can gleam from pictures alone.
You might ask yourself, can I navigate in an unknown never seen land just by reading this book? I think you can navigate somewhat as a result of reading this book. However, to truly be successful with the techniques he describes, in my opinion, you must learn a little bit about what is typical in the area--the birds, winds, etc. Despite this, I feel this book is priceless especially for those who don't want to rely on technology to get around!
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