No Roads Expeditions

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Finding The Southern Cross

How do I find the Southern Cross?

When you are in the Southern Hemisphere there is one celestial body that you can always count on, the Southern Cross. We all know what it looks like from how it is represented on so many flags e.g New Zealand, Brazil and Australia to name a few.

However as the Earth rotates so the appearance of the Southern Cross changes. To help you and to put an image in your mind, we have made this little diagram showing the Southern Cross in various stages of the night sky.

The Southern Cross helps us find south and thus all other compass points. The 2 pointer stars are our best guide to finding the Southern Cross.

How to work out south? Run a line along the long axis of the Cross and extend it 4.5 times the length of the long axis past the star closest to the horizon and towards the horizon. Run a similar line that dissects the pointer stars towards the horizon. Where the two lines intersect, run a line down to the horizon and this will give you south (ok the celestial south not true south but close enough).

Check out the diagram as it will make a bit more sense.

Southern Cross No Roads Expeditions


How Many Minutes To Sunset

How Many Minutes Until The Sunsets?
Have you sat on a beach or on a mountain watching the sunset and wondered "How long will it take for the sun to set below the horizon?". Well we have!

Close all your fingers together on one hand, just like a you would if you were doing a karate chop. Then place that hand up to the sun so that the top finger is touching the very bottom of the sun. Count the fingers below down to the horizon. Each finger will represent approximately 15 minutes. So 4 fingers would be 1 hour, 6 fingers 1.5 hours.

Be careful though as this changes slightly in winter when the sun will drop quicker.


12 Steps To Survival

12 Steps to Survival
Survival should be thought of as a journey. Once you're past the precipitating event you're cast away at sea or told you have cancer you have been enrolled in one of the oldest schools in history. Here are a few things from Laurence Gonzale's book "Deep Survival" that make some survivors and others not:

1. Perceive and Believe
Don't fall into the deadly trap of denial or of immobilizing fear. Admit it: You're really in trouble and you're going to have to get yourself out.

2. Stay Calm Use Your Anger
In the initial crisis, survivors are not ruled by fear; instead, they make use of it. Their fear often feels like (and turns into) anger, which motivates them and makes them feel sharper. Aron Ralston, the hiker who had to cut off his hand to free himself from a stone that had trapped him in a slot canyon in Utah, initially panicked and began slamming himself over and over against the boulder that had caught his hand. But very quickly, he stopped himself, did some deep breathing, and began thinking about his options. He eventually spent five days progressing through the stages necessary to convince him of what decisive action he had to take to save his own life. 

3. Think, Analyze, and Plan
Survivors quickly organize, set up routines, and institute discipline.

4. Take Correct, Decisive Action
Survivors are willing to take risks to save themselves and others. But they are simultaneously bold and cautious in what they will do. 

5. Celebrate Your Success
Survivors take great joy from even their smallest successes. This helps keep motivation high and prevents a lethal plunge into hopelessness. It also provides relief from the unspeakable strain of a life-threatening situation. 

6. Be a Rescuer, Not a Victim
Survivors are always doing what they do for someone else, even if that someone is thousands of miles away. People cannot survive for themselves alone; their must be a higher motive. 

7. Enjoy the Survival Journey
It may seem counter-intuitive, but even in the worst circumstances, survivors find something to enjoy, some way to play and laugh. Survival can be tedious, and waiting itself is an art. 
Singing, playing mind games, reciting poetry, counting anything, and doing mathematical problems in your head can make waiting possible and even pleasant, even while heightening perception and quieting fear. 

8. See the Beauty
Survivors are attuned to the wonder of their world, especially in the face of mortal danger. The appreciation of beauty, the feeling of awe, opens the senses to the environment. 

9. Believe That You Will Succeed
It is at this point, following what I call the vision, that the survivor's will to live becomes firmly fixed. Fear of dying falls away, and a new strength fills them with the power to go on.

10. Surrender
Yes you might die. In fact, you will die we all do. But perhaps it doesn't have to be today. Don't let it worry you. Forget about rescue. Everything you need is inside you already. 

11. Do Whatever Is Necessary
Survivors have a reason to live and are willing to bet everything on themselves. They have what psychologists call meta-knowledge: They know their abilities and do not over or underestimate them. They believe that anything is possible and act accordingly.

12. Never Give Up
If you're still alive, there is always one more thing that you can do. 
Survivors are not easily discouraged by setbacks. They accept that the environment is constantly changing and know that they must adapt. When they fall, they pick themselves up and start the entire process over again, breaking it down into manageable bits.


A Watch As A Compass

How to Tell Direction with Your Watch 
You can determine direction using a common or analogue watch--one that has hands. The direction will be accurate if you are using true local time, without any changes for daylight savings time. Remember, the further you are from the equator, the more accurate this method will be. If you only have a digital watch, you can overcome this obstacle. Quickly draw a watch on a circle of paper with the correct time on it and use it to determine your direction at that time.

In the northern hemisphere, hold the watch horizontal and point the hour hand at the sun. Bisect the angle between the hour hand and the 12 o'clock mark to get the north-south line. If there is any doubt as to which end of the line is north, remember that the sun rises in the east, sets in the west, and is due south at noon. The sun is in the east before noon and in the west after noon.

Note: If your watch is set on daylight savings time, use the midway point between the hour hand and 1 o'clock to determine the north-south line. 

In the southern hemisphere, point the watch's 12 o'clock mark toward the sun and a midpoint halfway between 12 and the hour hand will give you the north-south line. 

Watch as Compass No Roads Expeditions


Building A Fire When It's Wet

How to Build a Fire When It's Wet
"With great difficulty" we hear you say. However if you carry a few clean twigs inside your fuel bottle for your stove, says Norman Lu, our expedition leader in Indonesia. The fuel soaked twigs will jump start a stubborn camp-fire. Doing it this way you are assured of having something flammable to start a fire even when its raining."Believe me," he says, "those fuelled up twigs will light."


Finding Direction Using The Wind

How to Find Direction By The Wind 
If the direction of the prevailing wind is known it can be used for maintaining direction - there are consistent patterns throughout the world that dominates at some seasons, and often all seasons. Where a strong wind always comes from the same direction plants and trees may be bent in one direction, clear evidence of the wind's orientation. Thus, if the prevailing wing is a northerly then trees maybe bent towards the south.

But plants are not the only indication of the prevailing wind direction: birds and insects will usually build their nests in the lee of any cover and spiders cannot spin their webs in the wind. Snow and sand dunes are also blown into distinctive patterns by a prevailing wind.

As a remote traveller it is handy to know how to to interpret the forces of nature and the way it can give to direction.