This blue marble

– and yet it spins

Lost

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“It says we can see this island at sixty degrees starboard, so have to be here, just off that rock.”
“No way, sixty degrees starboard means we’re already way past that island, so we must be right here… wait, that looks like dry land?!”

And on and on, for another two hours it went, before we solved our position and direction, using some very unorthodox methods of projecting off the map. Reading a map is relatively easy when you know where you are. But how about when you are out at sea, need to broadcast your position to ask for help, and you think you recognize a landmark off the map but have no idea exactly where you are? For very obvious reasons, this type of problem was the main one, repeated throughout my sister’s navigation course book.

In the end, navigation with a map is all very simple logic and trigonometry, but boy did it take me hours and a quite some googling to swipe away the dust and cobwebs over the section in my brain that stored the crumbled remains of a navigation course I attended some fifteen years ago. My sister pushed on with admirable resilience, after realizing that the classes she invested in all fall would not guarantee a passed exam. Two days later and with the help of Youtube tutorials (in Danish!) we were finally able to find ourselves, on demand.

(My sister’s exam was canceled due to COVID, of course. But hopefully this time around the skill is not lost).

(Loviisa, Finland; December 2020)

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