What do you do when your compass breaks down? The Catlin Arctic Survey recently came up with an unusual idea. They are on their way to the North Pole to measure the shrinking icecap. But when compasses get so close to magnetic north they stop working correctly, and it’s too cold for GPS equipment to function. The team had to begin relying on the position of the sun for direction, but when it’s cloudy they do something a little more racy – they attach lingerie to the end of a ski pole to measure the direction of the wind.
Arctic explorer Pen Hadow, the first person to make a solo journey to the North Pole, said
“It is an entirely genuine situation. If you can get gossamer thin material and attach it to your ski pole, it is particularly useful for this project because we cannot use the compass as we are so close to magnetic north and it is too cold to use GPS…The knickers have taken up a whole new value operationally”
Navigator Ann Daniels explains,
“Due to our proximity to the Magnetic North Pole, our compasses are currently going haywire. The earth’s strong magnetic field on this part of the ocean means that the compass needle simply spins uselessly in its housing. As such, we’re currently relying on more traditional methods for day-to-day navigation, using the sun (for those few precious hours each day when it graces us with its presence), and using wind direction, as indicated by the panties.”
Mr. Hadow said that the panties were “kindly donated by a supporter of the expedition.” Picture of Ann Daniels with the famous knickers courtesy of photographer Martin Hartley.