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Pre-history of navigation
on 6 December 2013
A very interesting review of the origins of navigation and seamanship, starting from the exploration of Oceania on double sailing canoes.
The author, an anthropologist and he himself a sailor, describes how the ocean currents and winds can be deciphered and exploited in the absence of modern navigation instruments. This introductory, easily readable text tells about the origins of the arts of orienteering, boat-building, and sailing. Navigation started during the stone age, much before iron or even bronze became available, using dugouts canoes either paddled or downwind sailed; to return home the ancient mariners exploited predictable reversal of the prevalent winds, patience and rudimentary orientation with the stars. In spite of these limits and at the cost of many lives these ancient mariners were able to cover thousands of miles of open ocean and to populate remote islands.
A beautiful story, nicely written.