Map navigators see the world around them as a whole. Their base is still used for finding direction and describing position but they also see features in relation to each other and frequently use a feature or the sun, stars, or the wind to orient themselves, even though their mental map remains orientated to their base. If they look at the midday sun and say 'There's north,' this is immediately followed by 'and that's the way
4.2 Route Navigation home.' Compare this to navigating by map and compass, where you always orientate the map, and yourself, to north.
Map navigators can change routes to include intermediate destinations or make diversions if it is not possible to follow their chosen route (see Figure 4.3).
In areas they do not know, map navigators head in the general direction of their destination. If it lies to the west, they head westwards until they are close to their destination. Then they close in, either through recognising features around their destination or asking their way, a navigational trick my grandmother described as 'using your guid Scottish tongue'.
The Polynesians used islands along their route to confirm that they were on course. They called this Etak. More often than not the Etak island was out of sight over the horizon, as shown in Figure 4.4. Instead they looked for the zenith stars (see Chapter 16) that marked the Etak island and used these stars to judge the island's position and where they were in relation to it. Knowing which islands to use as Etaks, together with their zenith stars, was an important part of plotting their sailing routes.
4.3 Map Navigation. Map navigators carry mental maps of entire areas from which they can put together routes as they are needed. The scale of a mental map reflects its use. This map takes an overview but a map navigator can zoom in to a street map of Newtown or a floor plan of the Abbey. If you sketch a mental map for others, try to use easily understood symbols. Drawing mental maps to scale is very difficult. Journey times are a better indicator.
4.4 Etak Sailing
Etak navigation appears esoteric, but we use it without a second thought. I live in the North-east of England. On the other side of the hill is the town of Sunniside, shown in Figure 4.5. I cannot see it but I know that it is just to the right of the tall radio mast. Now that the mast has told me where Sunniside is I can fit other towns and villages over the horizon into my mental map.
The radio mast plays the role of an Etak star and Sunniside the Etak island. As long as the mast remains in sight I can check my progress. With luck, when I lose sight of it some other feature will play the same role. Without radio masts breaking their horizon the Polynesians used zenith stars.
Landmark, route and map navigation are not mutually exclusive skills. A good navigator switches from one to the other as circumstances require.
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