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Wayfinding: a wonderful rabbit trail

September 12, 2008

“Preparing for a voyage on a canoe is like preparing for the voyage into the future.”

Chers Amis,

Last Friday was our book club meeting for Call it Courage. All hands decided that it was an excellent book that would appeal to all readers – except maybe ‘girly-girl pink pony, tutu, Hannah Montana wanabees and even they would love the exotic location and the surf-pounding adventure. Before moving on to our next book, I wanted to share a few links that we found fascinating au Moulin while surfing about, researching the various rabbit trails. Caddie and Scarlett were both interested in how Mafatu and the early Polynesians were able to navigate through the wide expanses of Oceania without compass, map, sextant, geographic coordinates, clocks, or even GPS. The answer- Wayfinding. Wayfinding is navigation without instruments using careful observation of natural signs such as the sun, star position, weather, cloud formations, sky conditions, animal signs, and wave swells. If you are interested in this amazing skill that was almost lost in the modern era, visit the PBS site Wayfinders: A Pacific Odyssey that accompanies a video of the same name. Try your hand at virtual wayfinding by playing the game. We could not find a copy of the PBS video on-line or in our local library but did find Light at the Edge of the World: The Wayfinders on YouTube. There are five 7-10 minute segments to the film. It is worth watching. For more information tailored to children, check out the Educational Resources at the Polynesian Voyaging Society. We particularly liked Reading the Wind, Navigation and the Environment in the Pacific and Nature as a Guide. I can’t speak for the girls, but I’m ready for a ‘voyage into the future’ – or at least a trip to Hawaii!

 

–Marjorie

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