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Old 28-11-2011, 05:38   #1
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Challenge: Voyaging with ZERO Navigation Tools - How Risky ?

Not had a Challenge thread for a while.........this in homage to the Polynesians and Vikings

Using only what you already know how to do / how to build and use - would you / could you set off on a transocean voyage? from home port to landfall somewhere that was secure (i.e. 10 miles out don't count as "arrived" ).

That likely means NO Charts, Compass, GPS etc etc and unless you can build your own sextant - not one of those either (same goes for a GPS ).

How risky would you consider the voyage?.....personally I think no more risky than free climbing (no ropes).....and I am a little surprised it is not already a sub-genre within the sailing world .........but others may disagree

Obviously we all do have one big advantage over our forebears - we know there is land on the other side even if in practice most of us have only a fuzzy idea of the specifics in the memory bank.
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Old 28-11-2011, 05:53   #2
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Re: Voyaging with ZERO navigation tools - how risky?

I once read that the Polynesians were able to navigate on as little as wave behavior. Islands would distort the waves and from that they were able to determine the location of the islands.

As for me, I'm a scaredy-cat navigator and will only head out when I at least have a chart of the area. It is weird when approaching the edge of a chart after which everything is terra incongnito. There is an invisible line that keeps me going further. I am amazed when I read of the early navigators in my area that saild without even a good chart. Hence the number of wrecks in our sailing area.
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Old 28-11-2011, 06:22   #3
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Re: Voyaging with ZERO navigation tools - how risky?

Navigating, thus, between continents would be much easier than locating a particular small island.
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Old 28-11-2011, 06:24   #4
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Re: Voyaging with ZERO navigation tools - how risky?

1985 CCA Blue Water Award: MARVIN C. CREAMER U.S.A For a series of offshore voyages culminating in a west to east circumnavigation via Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn without navigational instruments - compass - chronometer, sextant or electronics. An GODERICH 35, 36-foot, steel-hulled cutter 982
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Old 28-11-2011, 06:51   #5
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Re: Voyaging with ZERO navigation tools - how risky?

For some good reference material: Steve Thomas, the guy from the PBS show "This Old House" was a cruiser before his PBS days. He spent a few years in the South Pacific studying ancient navigation and wrote a book about his experience and what he learned. It's good stuff. Amazon.com: The Last Navigator: A Young Man, An Ancient Mariner, The Secrets of the Sea (9781439233498): Steve Thomas: Books
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Old 28-11-2011, 06:53   #6
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Re: Voyaging with ZERO navigation tools - how risky?

For myself, I'm pretty sure I can find North south east and west without a compass. + DR guestimating speed... Hitting an Island might be a bit difficult, but landing in Europe or Africa would be no problem
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Old 28-11-2011, 06:58   #7
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Re: Voyaging with ZERO navigation tools - how risky?

Follow the Portuguese-man-o-war. They always find a beach.

Some years ago, a high school science teacher here in Bermuda did a summer drift in the conveyor current from the Azores to Bermuda to study the little pests.
This was IIRC, more than 30yrs ago. so no GPS to get her home.
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Old 28-11-2011, 07:25   #8
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Re: Voyaging with ZERO navigation tools - how risky?

Henk Bezemer did a trip from the Netherlands to the Azores without any navigational equipment. Solo on a Waarschip.

Waarschip 570 | Nautisch Centrum Delfzijl
Zeilhelden.nl is de nationale galerij van Nederlandse en Vlaamse zeilhelden
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Old 28-11-2011, 07:30   #9
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Re: Voyaging with ZERO navigation tools - how risky?

Not a problem IF one has the benefit of several generations of experience that gets passed down...

Otherwise, not smart..
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Old 28-11-2011, 08:04   #10
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Re: Voyaging with ZERO navigation tools - how risky?

Quote:
Originally Posted by David_Old_Jersey View Post
Not had a Challenge thread for a while.........this in homage to the Polynesians and Vikings

Using only what you already know how to do / how to build and use - would you / could you set off on a transocean voyage? from home port to landfall somewhere that was secure (i.e. 10 miles out don't count as "arrived" ).

That likely means NO Charts, Compass, GPS etc etc and unless you can build your own sextant - not one of those either (same goes for a GPS ).

How risky would you consider the voyage?.....personally I think no more risky than free climbing (no ropes).....and I am a little surprised it is not already a sub-genre within the sailing world .........but others may disagree

Obviously we all do have one big advantage over our forebears - we know there is land on the other side even if in practice most of us have only a fuzzy idea of the specifics in the memory bank.
What if like me, (electronics engineer for Texas Instruments), you actually are capable of building a GPS unit?
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Old 28-11-2011, 08:45   #11
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pirate Re: Voyaging with ZERO navigation tools - how risky?

Quote:
Originally Posted by capn_billl View Post
What if like me, (electronics engineer for Texas Instruments), you actually are capable of building a GPS unit?
Aarrgh!!--I be sailin' wid Capt-billi.
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Old 28-11-2011, 08:57   #12
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Re: Voyaging with ZERO navigation tools - how risky?

The Vikings used a calcite crystal to find the sun, 'Magic' Viking Sunstone Just Natural Crystal | Viking Sunstone Compass, Navigation & Polarized Light | LiveScience

You can make a compass with a needle and a cork.

If I had to pull a "Captain Bligh", and was forceably dropped in a lifeboat with no supplies, (unlikely as I carry Spare GPS, and a hand compass in ditch bag, and another in my pocket, and have another digital compass built into my watch). I would head for the nearest large landmass.

If I wasn't allowed a sextant, how about an astrolab? You can make one of those from a ruler thumbtacked to a protractor. (just don't use it for sunsights).


It is still possible to tell general direction and position from the sun and the stars.

In the days before charts were common, not only was it common to run aground, but when it was suspected that shallows were near, the main ship was anchored and long boats were put out to take soundings.

And they were not aiming for a specific port as none existed. No aiming for a dredged channel, or marina.

Such a challenge could be done safely very simply by only allowing one crew member to use modern navigational instruments, and the rest of the crew to use traditional methods, (if the ship was about to fall off the world, the one observer can abort the test).

If anyone wishes to try in the Gulf of Mexico I'm game. I'm familiar with the coast of Texas enough, I can recognise what Bay I'm approaching by the skyline.
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Old 28-11-2011, 09:09   #13
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Re: Voyaging with ZERO navigation tools - how risky?

Follow the jet contrails to get to Hawaii.

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Old 28-11-2011, 09:16   #14
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Re: Voyaging with ZERO navigation tools - how risky?

David Lewis: We the Navigators. Out of print now, I think. Details Pacific Islander navigation techniques, and he sailed round the world in a Polynesian catamaran using those techniques. He did have a backup navigator in the other hull, though. A pretty one.....

Also, in these modern times, you can sail from the West Coast to Hawaii by following jet contrails. No kidding. Also, if you already know the location of islands, etc, in the Northern Hemisphere, keeping Polaris so many fingers above the horizon will take you there straight way, and then there are tell tale signs to note approaches to land mass or islands. Longitude is another problem all together. OTOH, people have been crossing large stretches of open water in sailing boats for perhaps 45,000 years. some died, some didn't. It is certainly possible. I could be talked into sailing to Hawaii from the West Coast without instruments. I'm not into stunt stuff, though, usually.
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Old 28-11-2011, 09:29   #15
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Re: Voyaging with ZERO Navigation Tools - How Risky ?

So did the twin brothers BERQUE, in the early 2000's, on a 4 meters boat, from Canarias to Gwada...
see their blog:
Emmanuel et Maximilien BERQUE (mainly in french)
and also:
http://www.sansboussole.com/ (english translation)
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