March 25th, 2015
Last month, I found myself on the beautiful island of Maui in Hawaii. Unaware of its history, I learned that Hawaii’s first settlers were Polynesians from the Marquesas and Tahiti. To get to Hawaii, they travelled thousands of miles of open ocean in canoes. In order to navigate, they analyzed the motion of stars, the position of the sun and even the direction, size and speed of ocean waves. Quite impressive.
Somewhere along the way, it seems like we’ve lost our navigational skills. And let’s face it: who needs to know about celestial navigation when there’s Google Maps, right? It became an art almost; getting lost. ThTherefore you might be surprised that the International Search & Rescue Incident Database contains over fifty thousand incidents from the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the UK.
If you ever get lost in the wilderness – do not keep walking with the idea that ‘all roads lead to civilization.’ They don’t. Do not trust your sense of direction if you have none. Just because those Polynesians can do it, does not mean you can. Without external cues, humans are incapable of following a straight line, so you might end up where you started. The best thing to do, is to stay put. Hug a tree. Wait for your rescue party. And to calm your nerves, remember these statistics: 98 per cent of all search efforts are successful.
This editorial was published in our magazine’s “Splendid Isolation” issue, February 2012