P. Edronkin

Navigating With Your Brains

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Oceanic or long-range navigation over the water always requires two things: suitable vessels and good means to establish positions and courses. Even in the middle of the most dire survival situation it is possible to navigate successfully, as many examples of shipwreck survivors stranded on boats and rafts prove: people have managed to survive thanks to good instruments or their navigational skills, or both.

It is incorrect to believe that in order to navigate over long distances, it is mandatory to have at hand any sort of sophisticated devices or instruments: the Phoenicians made incredible voyages along African coasts, reaching points very far away from their home cities and without any sort of instrumentation. By the proper use of pilotage techniques they went as far south as to get acquainted with gorillas, without a clue about the particular conditions of the waters that they were navigating over: and those events were not just incidental but repeated more than once.

In fact, the Phoenicians managed to navigate around the whole African continent, which they knew only as 'Libya' and initially believed it to be a relatively small island; it is certain that they did that because the navigators described how the position of the sun changed as they went on their trip and their descriptions match exactly what happens to the sun from the perspective of someone who navigates over the equator, going from the northern hemisphere to the south and vice versa: so there is no doubt that the Phoenicians managed to sail around Africa thousands of years before any other human accomplished the same thing. And this is a very significant history, for it shows that in any sort of outdoor activity or context that implies the need to find a bearing or navigate, mind remains more important that matter.

The moral is that you don't need to overload yourself with a lot of equipment: what you have between your ears is more than enough to go around any continent.

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