Facebook is a wonderful tool if you think outside the box a bit. You start with the usual friends, but whenever you see a comment by someone you don’t know, check them out. If they’re interesting, make friends. Rinse and repeat…
Last year, I started following friendship threads towards people interested – and often deeply involved – in classic sailing craft. I suppose I should not have been surprised to find that this led me to Brittany, Marseille and la Rochelle. Now I can improve my French at the same time as joining in a wide range of discussions about traditional craft, art and music. Recently, I came across a man called Emmanuel Berque.
It was a bit like a couple of real-life random meetings I remember – the night watchman who used to be a lighthouse keeper, and the old boy on the front at Lee-on-Solent who turned out to have been skipper of Blue Leopard.
My friend Jim Murrant frequently bemoans the fact that so many of today’s yachtsmen put too much faith in their electronic navigation aids. They don’t understand their limitations, and they can’t cope if the instruments fail. I think he might enjoy talking to Emmanuel Berque.
Emmanuel and his twin brother have designed, built and sailed several small and primitive craft on long ocean voyages, but perhaps their most interesting voyage was in a 6.5 metre craft based on a Polynesian outrigger canoe, which they sailed from Lanzarote to Guadeloupe in 2003. That was quite a challenge in itself, but the real goal was to return to ancient techniques of navigation.
- they had no clock
- they had no compass
- they had no navigation tables
What they did was identify a small constellation that would tell them when they had reached the correct latitude, and make every effort to get down there before they had made too much westing. Their log tells where they thought they were, and they carried a beacon (but no radio) that allowed others to record their actual track.
Take a look here to see how successful they were.