Without A Compass?

This article teaches the compass points without the aid of a compass, use the stars, moon, and sun to determine position.

One important rule that I have always followed is: Never go into unknown terrain without a compass in your pocket. However, if you do find yourself in this position the first rule is: Do Not Panic. There are still alternative ways to put yourself back on course.

First, almost everyone knows that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. This is a good "General" rule but, depending on where you are, it may not rise in a due east position or set in a due west position. Further there may be overcast days when the sun is not visible.

The "Sun-Dial" method is the preferred way to go. In most instances it can be used on cloudy days and even if the moon is bright enough to cast a shadow. Here is how you do it:

The first thing you need to do is cut 4 sticks. One stick should be 3 to 4 feet in length. This will be the shadow stick.Two of the other sticks should be about 1 foot in length. These will be marker sticks. The next step is to find a spot that is flat and free of vegetation. If not, make one. Once you have located a spot, drive the long shadow stick into the ground. This stick should be casting a shadow. Take one of the shorter marker sticks and drive it into the ground at the end of the shadow. Mark the time. In thirty minutes, take the second marker stick and drive it into the ground at the end of the shadow (The shadow should have moved). The next step is to cut a direction stick (the 4th one) and sharpen one end. Lay this stick up against the two (Short) marker sticks. Make sure that the sharpened end of this stick is against the 2nd marker stick that you placed. The sharpened end of the direction stick is now pointing to the east and the blunt end is pointing to the west. Finally, position your body so that your right hand points toward the east (the sharpened end) and your left hand points west (the blunt end). Once you have aligned yourself, you are now facing north and your back is to the south. Now that you have established all 4 compass points, you can plot your course home.

If you find yourself disoriented at night, and there is no moon to cast a shadow, and the stars are visible, locate the North Star. This star is the last star in the handle of the Little Dipper. If you cannot locate the Little Dipper, find the Big Dipper. Locate the last two stars that make up the bowl of this constellation and draw an imaginary line straight up. These two stars point to the North Star. If you still are not sure of the star, the entire constellation is in a generally northern direction.

If you are totally confused with using the North Star as a guide,pick a star...any star and try this little trick.

Cut 2 sticks about 3 to 4 feet long. Push one stick in the ground and pace off about 6 feet and then push the second one into the ground. Sight across the two sticks to the star you have chosen. Once you have it in sight, focus on it for 10 to 15 minutes. If the star rises, you are facing east. If the star falls, you are facing west. If the star moves to your left, you are facing north. Finally, if the star moves to your right you are facing south. To simplify this further, you only have to know that a rising star indicates east and a star that moves left indicates north.

© High Speed Ventures 2011