Navigation is a skill you will always need. Can you navigate if you don’t have a compass, or GPS? Can you find your way using the North Star? Before you decide to move, there are certain things to consider. It has been my experience that IF… you don’t know where you are, you won’t know where to go. And if you don’t have your bearings, even if you do know where you are, which way do you go?. It’s best to stay put until rescued. Think about it. IF… you can find your way, ie you use your top of the range trucking navigator or sun, north star, or watch, you will be able to stay on course. IF… you don’t think that you are in shape to make the trek, or know which direction to go, then make camp and wait for help to come. Someone will miss you and start looking! But if you have to move…
The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. In the northern hemisphere, the sun will be due south when it is at it’s highest point in the sky. Any shadows will be pointing north. The shadow will also move clockwise in the north. Visa versa for the southern hemisphere. If you stand with your right side facing east, you are facing NORTH.
At night, locate the Big Dipper or Ursa Major which are key great truck sat nav units. Following a line upward from the two stars at the right end of the bowl of the Big Dipper twenty-eight degrees. This line intersects the star at the end of the handle of the Little Dipper, which is the brightest star of that group. This star is the North Star, Polaris, or Pole Star. It’s harder to find the Little Dipper because four of it’s stars are fainter. Once you have learned to locate Polaris you will be able to navigate and have a powerful survival skill under your belt. You now know where due north is!
Drive a long stick into the ground. Then take a shorter stick and line it up with the north star and the longer stick. A line joining the two sticks will run north and south, with the longer stick north of the shorter stick. ( In day light this direction will be preserved so you can navigate. ) Stars rise in the east and set in the west, just like the sun. If you watch any star it will appear to move either up or down. If it’s rising, you’re facing east, setting, you’re facing west.
To see what latitude you are on Earth, figure out the angle from the horizon to the pole star. It will be the same as your latitude. If you measure up to the North Star and find it to be 52′ above the horizon, your latitude is 52′ north of the equator. At the equator the North Star is right on the horizon and your latitude is zero. If you go south of the equator, Polaris will disappear. Move north and your latitude increases and the North Star climbs higher in the night sky.
Make sure that you have adequate clothing, footware, blanket, food, water proof matches, knife, mirror, compass, and in short, a proper survival kit. IF… you feel that you can make it to safety, then go ahead. But wait! Consider the psychological aspect of your situation. Under stress you might not be thinking clearly or be able to navigate. Make sure that you are calm and rational before you make any decision to move. Make sure that you have enough food and supplies to sustain this trip.
Leave a message in a bottle or tin can explaining the direction that you will be traveling, and the circumstances that you are under. How many people in your party and their names. Any injured. All relevant information. Hang it from a tree to make it noticeable. Draw attention to it. Also leave a marker on the ground to indicate your direction of travel. Logs or stones in the shape of an arrow ->. As you travel, mark your trail clearly so a rescue party can follow. Tie tall grass in a knot and bend it in the direction you are going as you tighten it. Use whatever material available.
Navigation by GPS is an acronym for Global Positioning System. GPS can accurately place your position anywhere on the earth to within thirty feet. It uses 24 satellites which are located twelve thousand miles above the earth, each circling twice daily. It works 24/7, in any weather conditions, and can be used anywhere on earth and with any vehicle include the top truck gps units. By locking onto their transmissions your GPS triangulates your precise location. Using these satellite signals which are maintained by the US Government is free. It calculates distance to destination, and bearing. With three satellites locked you will have longitude and latitude.
With four or more you will also get altitude. There are factors that influence the satellite’s signal for good and bad. As the signal travels through the atmosphere it slows down. The built-in clock in the GPS isn’t as accurate as the clock on the satellites causing slight timing errors. The signal is reflected from objects like tall buildings. It doesn’t work indoors. The more satellites a GPS can lock on to the better. Best results occur when the satellites are far apart from each other. Less accurate when the satellites are located close to each other or in a line. All in all, it makes your work a lot easier. And for the price, around two hundred dollars, it could be a matter of your survival!