A born wanderer, Tristan Gooley has made a career honing his exploration skills. He’s led expeditions on five continents, has studied the survival methods of indigenous people across the world, and is the only person to fly and sail solo across the Atlantic.
“I was a restless kid, a bit of a searcher,” he says. “[My] restlessness grew into a love of navigation. . . . It’s probably the one art that lets you see journeys of all different flavors.”
In his latest book, How to Read Water, Gooley offers up a host of simple, actionable tips readers can use to understand the world around them. He shared a few of those insights with me in an interview.
What’s in a puddle is in an ocean
Most of the patterns Gooley reveals loosely apply to all bodies of water, regardless of size or shape. Wind creates ripples in puddles just as it makes waves in the ocean (in conjunction with other factors). And when the wakes behind two ducks swimming on an otherwise quiet pond in England converge, they leave a criss-cross pattern much like those created by waves intersecting near islands in the Pacific.
This universality was Gooley’s inspirational tipping point for How to Read Water. And it’s why the book’s lessons within hold just as much relevance to a landlocked desert rat as a sailor.
Water illuminates the past and predicts the future
When read thoughtfully, water says a lot world around us. A puddle on a dirt road, for example, indicates the passage of heavy vehicles or a much-trafficked intersection. Eyed carefully, Gooley writes, junction puddles can indicate the direction travelers have most frequently turned, perhaps toward a town or other point of interest. That’s helpful info for lost travelers seeking civilization.
Water also presages events to come. Waves often come in rapid succession before a storm, and unusually high water levels may suggest a drop in atmospheric pressure (another indicator of stormy weather).