- 16 May 2001
I'm reading Jonathan Raban's Passage to Juneau. In it he describes how the ancient Polynesians ( who probably knew nothing about stability curves ) navigated before the advent of the compass needle. They used things like the wave size and height , bird types and flight path , and water colour to get from A to B. I short they were utterly in tune with the elements in a way we can't possibly understand now. For example if they were near a land mass but couldn't see it they could detect the difference in wave patterns caused by the land mass. The way the navigator did this was to put it mildly , interesting. Because the subtle way the wave pattern changed , something your modern day navigator probably wouldn't notice , the navigator needed a VERY sensitive organ to detect the change. He ... er ... used his bollocks. He would sit with the aforementioned organs on the boat's stempost and feel the boat's movement due to the wave train , and could detect any changes in the wave pattern. Like to see him do that in a Solent chop ! Ouch !!! Jonathan Raban omits to tell what he used to point with !!!!