Survivalist Forum banner
1 - 16 of 16 Posts

·
Space Shuttle Door Gunner
Joined
·
173 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Dumb question. How does one navigate without a compass? I have heard some people can navigate using the sun, but what if it is a situation like in a snowstorm or rainstorm and the sun isn't showing?
 

·
6 Boys and 13 Hands
Joined
·
10,346 Posts
Plants can show you cardinal points.

Large bark trees such as Maple, the bark will be tighter on the north side of the tree and wider on the south. Also tree limbs tend to extend in a more horizontal position on the south side of a tree and more vertical on the north. Some flowers will also indicate a cardinal point such as sunflowers as they always point east.

Cows even tend to face north (according to Google). (but as a former dairy farmer I dispute this claim as they tend to face the barn and their source of food)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
821 Posts
Celestial navigation is reliable, but not always possible.

Get a compass. Get a relavant topo map of your area. Buy a book on "land navigation made simple" or something like that.

Learn the theory then go out and practice the method.

some things can't be taught on the interwebs.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,082 Posts
Get the book, Finding Your Way With Out Map or Compass by Harold Gatty. It explains how primitive people found their way across oceans and entire continents using only observation. Very good book in my opinion and a must for everyone's navigation library.

For learning navigation with map and compass get the book, Be Expert with Map and Compass by Bjorn Kjelstrom. Best book I've ever read on land navigation, and yet again, a must for your navigation library.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
217 Posts
Navigating with the sun is pretty easy - and even if it's overcast you can generally tell where the sun is in the sky.

Also, the north side of trees tends to be mossy :)
 

·
Knowledge is Power
Joined
·
177 Posts
Plants can show you cardinal points.

Large bark trees such as Maple, the bark will be tighter on the north side of the tree and wider on the south. Also tree limbs tend to extend in a more horizontal position on the south side of a tree and more vertical on the north. Some flowers will also indicate a cardinal point such as sunflowers as they always point east.
Also, the north side of trees tends to be mossy :)
This only applies to the northern hemisphere. Our Aussie brothers will need to reverse this guidance.

Land navigation is a very useful skill. Learning many different ways to determine direction is never a waste of time.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
821 Posts
If you're talking about dead reckoning using the sun as a rough guide, I'd hardly call that "Navigating". More like wandering.

If you're talking about putting a stick in the ground and watching the shadow move to determine north, there are better faster, more accurate ways to do this. Realize every time you want to make a course correction you have to have sunlight, a stick and then sit on your duff for half-an-hour, at least.

Using a sextant is a lot more troublesome than a compass. I wouldn't recommend a sextant, watch and map over a compass and map. As I understand it, you'd have to wait from noon until darkness to realize the difference between the solar measurement (latitude) and evening hours to calculate GMT for the longitude. That could be 10 hours , depending on season.

Moss growing only on one side of a tree is an old-wives tale and not a predictable indicator of direction.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
217 Posts
Well, good to see that despite the fact that you're extremely presumptuous, you do know a few things.

I'm actually referring to determining direction based on the position of the sun in the sky and the current time. I learned it as a kid and have used it many times:

*Edit (more concise reference): http://www.wikihow.com/Use-an-Analog-Watch-as-a-Compass

I don't think a sextant would work in most cases as it relies on the horizon - this is primarily for navigation on the sea. Although it would be more than adequate if it did work --- but then you'd have to be carrying a sextant. If you forget your compass but have a sextant, you have other problems. :)

Moss growing on trees is a trick I've verified on many occasions. It's not an old wives tale. As the sun traverses the sky, it spends a great deal less time (in our hemisphere) hitting trees on their north side. This means they are generally cooler and wetter on this side - more moss grows. Obviously there are conditions which can affect this, but if you know what I've written in this paragraph and are a little observant, it can be quite helpful.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
280 Posts
I don't think a sextant would work in most cases as it relies on the horizon
When you are on land and can't see natural horizon, buy special instrument which will show you so called artificial horizon. ;) It 'imitates' the natural one and works OK.
But i would agree that on land celestial navigation is not handy.
 

·
Bravo Zulu
Joined
·
13,133 Posts
Dumb question. How does one navigate without a compass? I have heard some people can navigate using the sun, but what if it is a situation like in a snowstorm or rainstorm and the sun isn't showing?
If it's a situation like a snowstorm or rainstorm, you sit tight and wait it out.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
364 Posts
It's not a bad idea to learn some nighttime navigation, although your best bet is to just remember that if you are in the Northern hemisphere and you are looking at Polaris, you're looking pretty much dead North. Well enough to navigate with, anyway.

Polaris is the lead star in the Little Dipper; also, two stars in the Big Dipper point directly at it.

Contrary to popular belief, however, it is NOT the brightest star in the night sky. That would be Sirius, which, when visible, lies roughly South. It's not an uncommon mistake to head in the completely opposite direction that you want to go because of this misconception. Sirius is significantly brighter than Polaris, although Polaris is still pretty bright.

Daytime navigation can be tricky as well. It's easy to find a general north, of course: the sun rises roughly in the east and sets roughly in the west. If it's morning, you can estimate where east is using your zenith and the sun to draw a line to the horizon, or west if it's evening. To increase accuracy, simply put a stick in the ground and mark the shadow every 10 minutes for half an hour and you have a decently accurate east-west line.

Don't go by the oak-on-the-tree method. I'm not even sure if there's any truth in it at all.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
821 Posts
Well, good to see that despite the fact that you're extremely presumptuous, you do know a few things.

Glad you noticed. Unlike some on the interwebs, I don't talk about things I don't know about. Unless I have personal experience on a topic, I'm reluctant to even offer an opinion. Unfortunately, most opinions are based 3rd party info, wishful thinking or based on knowledge gleaned from a movie.

I'm actually referring to determining direction based on the position of the sun in the sky and the current time. I learned it as a kid and have used it many times:

*Edit (more concise reference): http://www.wikihow.com/Use-an-Analog-Watch-as-a-Compass

I'm familiar with the technique. Tried it once or twice when in the scouts. I'd rather carry a compass and a map and leave the parlor tricks for when you have no proper equipment. Primitive survival is what you do when plans fail, not what you do for an enjoyable weekend. just my $.02

I don't think a sextant would work in most cases as it relies on the horizon - this is primarily for navigation on the sea. Although it would be more than adequate if it did work --- but then you'd have to be carrying a sextant. If you forget your compass but have a sextant, you have other problems. :)

lol

Moss growing on trees is a trick I've verified on many occasions. It's not an old wives tale. As the sun traverses the sky, it spends a great deal less time (in our hemisphere) hitting trees on their north side. This means they are generally cooler and wetter on this side - more moss grows. Obviously there are conditions which can affect this, but if you know what I've written in this paragraph and are a little observant, it can be quite helpful.

I've looked and looked and pretty much found moss growing at the entire base of most trees I've checked. Even going by where the thickest moss was located was very inconsistent with this theory, hence my opinion that the theory was invalid. Be aware most of my experience is in Arizona. Further North, the theory may be sound.
...............................
 

·
Research, Learn, Share
Joined
·
819 Posts
Make a compass using a needle from your sewing kit. You need either a magnet, or a piece of silk or other sheer material to to it, so make sure you have one or both in your BOB. A 1" square piece of silk takes up no room and will easily fit in your sewing kit - perhaps used to hold pins or needles together.

There are a number of places on the net that will show you how to do it. Once you have it magnetized you float a small leaf on water, lay the needle on it ans watch it point to magnetic north,
 
1 - 16 of 16 Posts
Top