Navigational Skills – not only for boaters

If you think that this blog is about using your GPS or your Navionics phone app, you are incorrect. This is about navigation in ‘a pinch’, using no tool other than maybe your wristwatch.

Where is home?

Your compass is the most critical navigational instrument on your boat, but how do navigate without one? Let’s say you are taking your kayak for a trip, get lost in the mangroves and have only little energy left to get back home. Use the sun to determine your cardinal directions! The sun always rises in the East and sets in the West. Is it morning? The sun will indicate East, is it afternoon, the sun will be in the West. 

How much sunlight do I have left?

A question I often get is ‘when is sunset’? Boaters and aviators often stay away from trips in total darkness. Sure, you can use your fancy apps to tell you exactly how much sunlight you have left, but again, you forgot all of it and are currently stuck in the mangroves with your kayak…–Hold up your hand, index finger along the horizon, how many fingers fit between the horizon over the water surface and the sun? Each finger represents about 10 minutes before sunset. After sunset still have some light for about 20-30 minutes, we call that “civil twilight”. So,.. if you can fit 4 fingers between the horizon and the sun, you have about 40 minutes before sunset, and about 60 – 70 minutes before total darkness.

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