Natural or sense navigation


A view is a small picture of a stretch of coast, which a sailor can use to recognise his position.

  • Go out into the country or even better take to the water. Divide yourselves up into two teams. Both teams draw some views, which the other team must then try to locate.

A mark is a position line, which is determined by two known points standing in line, i.e. they are seen on a line, one above the other. Marks are very precise position lines – but only if they have been described accurately!

  • This exercise is also intended for outdoors and in teams. Find some good marks and describe them orally for the other team who have then to identify them. If the exercise is carried out with two intersecting marks, an observed position is obtained which can then be marked on the ground with some object or by drawing a line in chalk.

The sun's height at midday can be used to find the points of the compass and determine latitude. South is there where the sun is at its highest. But how precisely can midday be determined?

  • Hide away your watches and mobile phones. Try to determine midday by observing the height of the sun, either without any instrument or using some objects found in nature. Who can be the most precise?

Most people also have an approximate perception of the points of the compass at other times of the day, based on the position of the sun.

  • Identify the points of the compass on the basis of the sun's position at a random time of the day. Do this exercise both with and without a watch.

It is also possible to identify the points of the compass and latitude at night if there is a clear sky and it is dark enough.

  • For this exercise you need to be up late. Find the North Star in the night sky. Find other stars and constellations too (depending of the time of the year).

Place names on maps and charts can often give an indication of lost navigation marks. Find a suitable section of map or chart.

  • Identify these place names and talk about what they could have referred to.

Today, we have instruments for very precise measurements of speed. But some people are very good to estimate how quickly they are moving.

  • This exercise takes place in a vehicle or in a boat on the water. Try to guess at intervals how quickly you are moving. Get one of your friends to give you the correct answer. See if your performance improves.

Probably the simplest instrument for measuring speed is an observation of the time it takes to pass an object. Use the formula: Distance = speed x time.

  • On water: Measure the distance between two places in the boat – one at the stem, one at the stern. Throw a stick or similar over board at the front place and calculate your speed on the basis of the time it takes the stick etc. to reach the place at the stern. Carry out this exercise both with a watch and by counting seconds in your head.
  • On land: Try the same exercise on a bus trip. Count how long a streetlight takes to get from the front to the back seat. On foot you can see how long it takes you to walk a known distance.