For thousands of years, people have been sailing across
the oceans and around the world. Knowledge of ocean
currents and wind patterns has allowed people to reliably
reach their destinations even after crossing huge expanses
of open ocean.
In this photograph, a sailboat uses wind and currents
to move among the islands of Micronesia. Before modern
navigational techniques were developed, navigators in
the South Pacific relied on stick charts to indicate
island locations relative to winds and currents.
Move your cursor over the sailboat image to see an illustration
of a stick navigational chart.
Today, racing sailboats is a sport, and teams test
their skills by racing around the world. Navigation
now relies on satellites, but knowledge of wind patterns,
ocean currents, and potential obstacles in unfamiliar
waters is still essential for sailing.
In this investigation, you'll plot a course for racing
around the world in a sailboat. You'll explore some
of the obstacles you might encounter on your route;
then you'll have the opportunity to revise your route
to improve your speed.