So I am an idiot--wanna make something of it?

Posted by: Anonymous

So I am an idiot--wanna make something of it? - 04/01/02 05:32 PM

I am not sure that there is anyone out there that could possibly be as stupid as I am, so this post may be unnecessary. I actually considered skipping this post, or thought I should at least change my nickname before making it, but it may be useful, so just in case, I will put aside any notions of pride.<br><br>My Wife and I just returned from a Holiday in London. Since I tend to lose my direction much more easily in a big city than in the woods, I added a small compass (that includes a whistle, thermometer and magnifying glass) to my pocket carry. I put it on a ring with my micro-light and a small Gerber lockblade knife. <br><br> One morning we took a walk to Kensington Palace. We got turned around and, since I had left the map in the hotel (no need to have it for this short walk) and it was too foggy to use the Sun as a reference, I whipped out the pocket compass to head north toward the palace. My wife, who has an excellent sense of direction was surprised at my choice for north. She was pretty sure it was directly south. <br>I expressed to her how lucky it was, then, that I had included the small compass in my carry.<br><br>We walked about 10 blocks and seemed to be getting nowhere. I took out the compass again, and was shocked to discover that my choice for North had become almost due West! <br><br>You are WAY ahead on me on this.....right? I realized that my compass was not showing me the direction of North, it was showing me the direction of my Gerber knife! I cringed and audibly groaned and desperately tried to figure out a way to explain this to my wife without admitting my idiocy. Since I decided that she probably would not believe that they had moved Kensington, I decided that honesty was the best policy and we had a good laugh and a long walk. However, this could have been a life-threatening mistake in the wilderness, so PLEASE remember to take the compass off of your keychain, or out of your pocket tin before you rely on it for a bearing. It also would not be a bad idea to ALWAYS carry your map.<br><br><br>Robb <br>
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: So I am an idiot--wanna make something of it? - 04/01/02 06:01 PM

Could have been worse. Could have been your big marlinspike folding knife in your pocket while you were standing at the helm of a sailboat. I'm admitting nothing... :-)<br><br>Actually, that was pretty obvious- the compass dial wheeled around more the closer I leaned toward it.<br><br>But, since I already told another one to Barry at Blue Line, I'll share it here...<br><br>A couple of months ago I was delighted to find a "Brunton Nexus 27LU" compass in a very large sports store locally- it's virtually identical to my old favorite, a "Silva Landmark 27", which is a mirror-sighting compass scaled down to matchbook size. It was selling for $12.99.<br> <br>Unfortunately, when I got it up to the counter they tried to charge me $20 for it. They apologized, said it had been entered into the computer wrong, had to get a manager to change something, and eventually I paid what was labeled- but I didn't notice that after this hassle I was not given a receipt.<br> <br>So, naturally, when I got home I found that the compass was lacking in one quality I never thought to check in the store... it didn't point North. At all. In fact, It had a very, very slight tendency to point South, but it wasn't really strong enough to overcome bearing (or maybe liquid) friction most of the time.<br> <br>Not having been given a receipt, I couldn't take it back to the store... but Brunton was good enough to give me an RMA and exchange it... eventually. Only took a month and 3 days, and of course a few more bucks to ship it...<br><br>You don't really appreciate how important a magnetized needle is, to a compass, until someone sells you one without it... :-)<br><br>Next time you buy one, you might want to take a second to check that little feature...
Posted by: Pat_Galea

Re: So I am an idiot--wanna make something of it? - 04/01/02 06:41 PM

Not so daft. I've done similar things myself. I guess that's why it's good to try these things out before we go 'live' with them!<br><br>On a similar note (though less emergency related) it is possible to get 'turned round' even in a familiar setting because something has changed that you've never noticed before.<br><br>My girlfriend and I had an odd experience in the main branch of the New York Public Library. We used an elevator to get to the floor we wanted, and when we'd finished, we used it to get back to street level. On emerging from the library, we were a bit shocked to find that we'd been turned round and had come out of the side entrance on 42nd street!<br><br>It took us quite a while to figure out what had happened, but eventually we got it.<br><br>In the library, they use these Tensa-Barrier things to create temporary partitions. Now that day, when we'd got into the elevator, the barrier had been on the far side of the elevators (i.e. away from the main entrance), so if they'd left it there when we came down, we'd naturally have come out the way we went in. But instead, while we were moseying around upstairs, they moved the barrier to the side nearest the main entrance. When we came back down, we turned the wrong way; we must've subconsciously just avoided the barrier, with the result that we ended up coming out the 'wrong' exit.<br><br>Very odd experience indeed! And very silly. :-)
Posted by: Chris Kavanaugh

Re: So I am an idiot--wanna make something of it? - 04/01/02 07:09 PM

I was duty helmsman on a cutter in complete zero visibility fog. Radar displayed a "large object" and our new ensign determined it was a charted small island. We made a course correction and proceeded ahead slow. Radar announced "the island" was moving on intercept.The ensign replied to maintain our heading. Within seconds I could feel a "bite" in the swells and made a light adjustment to the wheel. A few seconds later I was furiously yanking with all my strength to port as a monster supertanker passed within several meters. The ensign lost all decorum and was yelling " hang a left, for God's sake hang a left!" I managed to reply "hanging a left aye sir ! " The chief calmly freshened our coffees and talked about floating islands in nautical folklore. The ensign became a very good officer. He learned his lesson and so did you. Being humble ( and lucky enough) to share and learn from mistakes makes us all better ;O)
Posted by: peanut

Re: So I am an idiot--wanna make something of it? - 04/01/02 08:23 PM

Chris, yours is a case of a mistake being made. It could be worse, please see <br><br><br>It oughta be true<br><br>yours in comedy<br><br>Peanut
Posted by: corpsman

Re: So I am an idiot--wanna make something of it? - 04/01/02 08:38 PM

My brother in law and I were checking trap lines late one summer in the high up yonder- some very rough country to the north of Zion NP. We used horses since the loop was about 20 miles.<br><br><br>We'd already checked several of the traps - yeas - all legal. We'd tied up the horses and carefully worked our way down and to the south. Nothing in the trap, so we headed back up to our horses. It took us a little longer, since we were heading back uphill in heavy brush. When we came out, no horses. We could see the tracks - ours and the horses. <br><br>After a smoke and a drink from our canteens - although we carried bigger ones on the horses, we both always carry our own on our person, since we would end up riding whathever (sometimes half-broke) stock was around.<br><br>We finally decided we'd crosed over in the brush. It took us 45 minutes to walk over the ground it took us about 20 minutes to cover on the horses just a couple hours ago.<br><br>Fortunately we had the basics and were able to "hug a tree" until we figured out what we'd done wrong.<br><br>Since we'd ridden horses in from the end of a 50 mile dirt/gravel road....<br><br>
Posted by: inkslngr

Re: So I am an idiot--wanna make something of it? - 04/01/02 08:51 PM

Twenty years or so ago, when my outdoor pursuits were controlled more by testosterone than gray matter, I too had an interesting experience.<br><br>My younger brother and I had gained permission to hunt a friends property in southern Ohio. Two hundred wooded acres backed up to several thousand more of state forest land. Not exactly the last wilderness frontier, but plenty of room to get turned around. Not much chance of becoming self extractably lost since walking in a straight line for several miles in any direction would bring one to a frequently traveled road.<br><br>After several hours of being engrossed in tracking, stalking, etc., it became suddenly apparent I had no idea were the hell I was.<br><br>Good time for lunch and a nap thought I.<br><br>After lunch the assesment began. Visually nothing looked familiar. Marking my back trail well, a short climb to a nearby hilltop brought some familiar sights to veiw. With confidence returning a course was chosen. Ten minutes of walking brought me to a stream crossing that looked vaguely familiar. Foot prints in the mud indicated the recent passing of a heavy individual. Closer inspection revealed the prints to be my own! <br><br>The realization of my actual location was instant, and I was walking in the opposite direction I needed to be.<br><br>Lessons learned-<br><br>(1) you really do walk in circles when lost<br><br>(2) Having a compass along and having taken a reading on my back trail first thing in the morning would have saved a lot of shoe leather.<br><br>(3) a map of the area would have been VERY handy<br><br>Mistakes happen, hopefully we learn in the process and remain unscathed.
Posted by: Chris Kavanaugh

Re: So I am an idiot--wanna make something of it? - 04/02/02 12:47 AM

Peanut, I heard that legend when I was on active duty. I have heard it retold at least 5 times by people who swore they were participants, including Coast Guardsmen naming the USS Enterprise as the carrier vs. a lighthouse thats been a museum for 30 years ;O)
Posted by: OldBaldGuy

Re: So I am an idiot--wanna make something of it? - 04/02/02 05:19 PM

I get a ton of use out of my Casio Triplesensor watch, complete with digital compass. It is not my only compass of course, but it is always on my wrist and always works (when the batteries start to go they give plenty of warning before actually failing)...
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: So I am an idiot--wanna make something of it? - 04/02/02 10:29 PM

I have a question. Does carrying a compass too close to something such as a knife cause the compass to carry a memory, or in some way, error? Is there a minimum amount of time that a person should wait after the compass has been in close proximity to steel?<br><br>Thank you,<br>Xavier Phx AZ
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: So I am an idiot--wanna make something of it? - 04/03/02 12:25 AM

ROFL--Chris, may be the wrong forum, but I GOTTA ask. Did you REALLY reply "Hanging a left, sir!" ? That has got to be an story enhancement, right? It is really too perfect. I have been laughing all day.
Posted by: johnbaker

Re: So I am an idiot--wanna make something of it? - 04/03/02 01:40 AM

As I understand it, the compass needle is magnetized so that it will point to the large iron deposit in the earth, the magnetic north pole, which is near the earth's true north pole. Compasses are regularly stored & carried in proximity to other products made of ferrous metal all without apparent effect. Compass manuals do not warn of any such hazard. Indeed vehicular compasses are made with adjustments for biases due to nearby steel & electromagnetic fields. In normal use compasses do not seem to be particularly susceptible to permanently biased readings due to minor storage influences. I'm a lot less confident about what happens when they're subject to powerful magnetic fields.<br><br>When taking compass readings, it's a good idea to test for how much influence the steel products you're carrying cause. Moving the compass towards & away from metal items indicates their range of influence. Knives, multitools, handguns, magazines, & long guns are commonly carried influences. The influence seems to dissipate around 6" from the ferrous metal object. YMMV.<br><br>You may want to try your own experiments. BSA stores offer a number of inexpensive books on compasses & orienteering. A lot of other vendors such as REI, Sports Chalet, & Cabela's carry similar materials. <br><br>John
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: So I am an idiot--wanna make something of it? - 04/03/02 04:57 AM

If you are like me, you need to watch out for the steel elements (e.g., screws) in my eyeglasses frame - a factor if I get real close to the compass trying to get a very precise reading.<br><br>Also, look out for the local geology. I have seen a compass carried on iron rich basalt fields go nearly 70 degrees out because of the local attraction of the rocks.
Posted by: Trusbx

Re: So I am an idiot--wanna make something of it? - 04/03/02 06:29 AM

Nope.<br>As far as I know, compasses have no 'memory' per se.<br>Also (correct me if i'm wrong) they will not lose their efficacy unless their magnetism has been affected by a stronger magnetic field.
Posted by: johnbaker

Re: So I am an idiot--wanna make something of it? - 04/03/02 07:38 AM

I've been using an inexpensive Casio digital watch for about 10 years. It's still on the original battery! I use the stopwatch function a lot, but not the light. I'm amazed. None of our other watches' batteries have lasted over a couple years. I'm not sure what it signifies, especially in a survival context, but I'm still amazed.<br><br>John
Posted by: aardwolfe

Re: So I am an idiot--wanna make something of it? - 04/06/02 09:22 PM

> As I understand it, the compass needle is magnetized so that it will point to the large iron deposit in the earth, the magnetic north pole, which is near the earth's true north pole. <br><br>Close, except it's not a "large iron deposit" it's an elecromagnetic field generated by molten metallic materials in the earth's mantle (the molten layer beneath the crust), at least that's according to the latest scientific evidence. (Or at least, according to Time magazine :-0 ) As such, it moves around - on a daily basis, I understand, it moves in an ellipse about 60 miles across, and is currently (no pun intended) moving northward at the rate of about 10-15 miles per year. <br>(see<br>But the bottom line is, the earth is a giant magnet (or electromagnet) and the compass needle lines up with the lines of magnetic flux that the earth creates; hence the compass needles points north (or south).<br><br>I can actually outdo the original poster - I had a cheap dashboard-mounted compass that I bought for my car, and I was using it to demonstrate to a group of cadets how to find North. Well, all the other methods we were using said N was *that* way, and my dashboard compass said N was *this* way, 180 degrees out. I concluded that the thing was hooped and threw it out (it only cost a couple of bucks). Only later did I realize that the compass was designed to be read from the side, not the top. Thus, when you were facing N, the "N" would be facing you - i.e. the "N" pointed South, not North. <br><br>This may not make sense unless you buy one and see for yourself. But trust me - if the compass you're using is designed to be read from the side (as most small airplane compasses are), don't try reading it from the top, even if you can, because chances are you'll be 180 degrees out.<br><br>That mistake could result in a very bad day; I'm truly thankful that I figured it out while teaching cadets and not trying to navigate my way to safety after a plane crash.
Posted by: johnbaker

Re: So I am an idiot--wanna make something of it? - 04/07/02 08:46 PM

Aard,<br><br>Thanks for the clarification & info.<br><br>By the way, what is "St. John Ambulance Brigade"?<br><br>John
Posted by: aardwolfe

St John Ambulance brigade - 04/08/02 03:08 AM

johnbaker;<br><br>What is St John Ambulance? Basically, it's the oldest volunteer service organization in the world (at least, by some reckoning :-). It started out as a religious order that founded a small hospital in Jerusalem in 600 AD. Currently, it's a world-wide (mainly British Commonwealth, I think, but not exclusively so) non-denominational organization (i.e. no religious affiliations) that deals with various aspects of First Aid and hospital care. St. John Ambulance provides First Aid training; mainly a 1-day Emergency course, a 2-day Standard course, and a 3-day Extended course. There are a number of other courses - Advanced First Aid (equivalent to the EMR level), Wilderness First Aid, We Can Help (aimed at 6 to 10 year olds), and others. The Brigade is a volunteer arm that provides First Aid coverage for local events. I'm the Training Officer for a small cadet division (most of our cadets are girls aged 15 to 16 currently). <br><br>For more information:<br><br>St. John Ambulance of Canada :<br><br>St. John Ambulance of in the UK :<br><br>My own brigade (Calgary, Alberta) :<br><br>For information about our cadet program in particular, and SJA in general, this is an excellent site maintained by an Ontario (Canada) cadet division:<br><br>Hope this answers your question. :-)