About a month before my first son Garrett was born, I started to look for a gift to give him at his berth, to commemorate this occasion. I was at an antique maritime store in Miami when I found the right gift. It was a lifeboat sextant. A small compact sextant that they placed in lifeboats for emergency, if stranded at sea. It is a really beautiful piece of form & function, brass & dials. I felt it perfect for my first son to begin his life with a way to find out where he was, where he wanted to go and how to safely get home. I had engraved upon it, “When’ever your lost, look to the heavens”.

We all aren’t so lucky to begin our lives or journeys with an internal sextant. Every voyage is one of some form of discovery if you are paying attention and looking for signs. Identifying these signs usually requires a teacher/master to point them out at first. Over time through lessons, one can pick them up without them being identified. Eventually you start instructing and passing on your observations as lessons to others. This is how we as humans became the only species to knowingly discover all the Continents, religion, science through teaching of lessons learned passed down through known history.

What has me puzzled and I am concerned about as we move forward towards the future, is all the modern technology actually better for us as a human race? Thousands of years traversing the seas and oceans with only the assistance of heavenly bodies, nature, passed down lessons and observations. The ancient Polynesians could cross vast oceans and hit a distant island with incredible accuracy, without the use of even a now outdated tool like a sextant? When I say outdated, I am only referring to how long mariners have relied upon them and their replacement, first Loran and now GPS. My concern and puzzlement is it is not aligned with the KISS principle (Keep, It, Simple, Stupid). It has added enormous amounts of complexities and reliance upon technology and it’s (tech) demands. Don’t assume that I feel modern technology and it’s advancement is wrong and all hurtful, I just have concerns of losing the knowledge, skills and lessons from the past that simplified the same final objective. To get from A to B, one place to another.

How many other day to day skills have become more technically complex and reliant to tech, that the basic objective was far simpler in it’s basic form? Close observations of nature you can see displays of adaptive and simplified actions, to stream line actions towards an objective. As humans in nature we simplified through time actions towards an objective, until we entered the industrial age. Look at the amount of actions required by individuals and resources to provide a once simple task. How much labor and resources it takes to create a tool to service a simple need, is not necessarily simplifying a process. Simplification of a process in nature could be defined as the least amount of energy spent to preform a task. Energy for a task, is the labor and resources expelled to achieve the task.

I spent years involved with companies manufacturing boats and yachts. Over time I witnessed these companies try to stream line manufacturing through processes like Six Sigma and Lean Manufacturing. Bottom line of these principles in manufacturing, was to expend the least amount of energy and resources to a task. Fewer labor hours and resources, greater profit margin. Isn’t this what nature has been doing for biological systems since the beginning? Path of least resistance. It could be quite possible that we are looking at things from the wrong perspective, over complicating the obvious solution to a problem or task?

A question I need to ask myself? If I want to sell t-shirts, hat’s, stuff to promote my Waterman Blog and Watermen Marine, what’s the process to expend the least amount of labor and resources? One would be, promote nothing. But I wouldn’t be expanding/promoting a process to highlight Watermen and their ways. So the next step is to define the process to KISS, “Wayfind” the minimal steps, impact, resources, transportation to achieve our objective. I will document my process in the hope that others if so desired, can use it as a pathway to “Wayfind” their on process to achieve their destination.

I hope you enjoy our journey.


Published by tvincent2014

Over 25 years as a mariner and maritime industry professional.

One thought on ““Wayfinding”

  1. Hi Tripper,

    An excellent treatise on humankind that goes to the heart of why, as you so succintly put it, we have indeed lost our way. Predominently, because of our abject reliance on technology. How simple it is to consult the myriad of worldwide-web sites, rather than to study the relevant problem, gain a deeper insight and draw one’s own conclusions. Or to rely on the latest gizmo in order to satisfy, what is essentially, a commercial ploy.

    In the manner of those Polynesians, the Norsemen, and before them the ancient civilisations of Asia and Egypt who also relied on their instincts and the heavens to guide them, we need to go back to the way of thinking instinctively and intuitively as individuals -and not follow the herd.

    And in this age, with the clamour for more and more access to cheaper and yet cheaper technology, sadly, with the consequent carbon footprints, if man continues to pollute the planet, the sky will be so clouded that we will, most certainly, lose our way.

    Best wishes in your endeavors.

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