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Meeting Minutes
Torch Club of the Fox Valley
08 September 2016
Atlas Coffee Mill & Café

Notes taken by: Jude Kuenn, secretary
Attendees:  Karen Bachhuber, Jim Baumbach, Nancy Bodway, David Debbink, Marcia Debbink, Mary Flanagan, Paul Freiberg, Jean Hedges, Walt Hedges, Jean Jepson, Jude Kuenn, Cam Maurice, Mary Poulson, Richard Schoenbohm, Helen Thiel, Peter Thiel, Scott Valitchka, Donna Weis, Sofia Wilson

Guests: none


Meeting called to order at 6:32pm.

Business segment adjourned at 6:48pm for dinner.
Walt Hedges presented “The History of Navigation”
Wayfinding encompasses all of the ways in which people orient themselves in physical space and navigate from place to place. Ancient cultures figured things out in their own time, but it is the victor who writes history.
In 400AD, St. Brendan left the shores of Ireland, mythical or not, may have traveled as far as Iceland and returned to Britain, where he died. How did he navigate his way? Arabs as desert travelers also knew how to navigate their landscape.
While said in 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue, the Vikings explored in today’s Boston harbor ~900AD, one Viking found eastern Canada in 850AD.  North America was mapped 60 years before Columbus’ voyage.

The Ocean peoples: Micronesians, Melanesians, and Polynesians, spent 800 years traveling 16 million square miles of ocean, civilizing every island explored due to population pressures. ~500 AD Hawaii was settled by Polynesians while Europeans hadn’t even thought of ocean travel. How did these peoples travel? They watched birds’ migration, followed wind directions, noted wave patterns, looked at the curve of the earth and used the frigate bird. The frigate doesn’t exceed flying 90 miles from land (usually 40-50 miles), and cannot land on water. Taken on a voyage, the birds would be set loose. If they found no land, they returned to the boat. Different fish and water plants also were indicators of water wayfinding.

These cultures groomed special people as navigators. Brought up from birth for the role, male or female, they learned chants, songs, knew legends and set up charts. These were literally stellar navigators and knew which stars were over which island. Navigators had no ship duties other than finding/keeping a course. They worked 20 hours a day.

Wayfinders were not scientific. It was the Arabs who used science, creating true navigational methods to determine position, location, distance traveled, and course to a known destination.

It was ~1770 when Captain Cook met the Tahitians, that western people were exposed to Oceanic cultures. 

With handmade examples, Walt shared some tools of navigation:

Next meeting is 10/13/16; speaker will be Amy Oberg.
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