Story and illustrations by Nandhini Chandrasekaran.
You might want to read my previous story, The North Star, Nature’s Navigator.
Mia is at Grandpa’s home for a holiday.
“Little Mia, my neighbour has lent us a boat for today. He needs it in the morning though,” Grandpa informed Mia.
“Wow! Boat ride would be fun, grandpa!” exclaimed Mia.
“Yeah, it will be. But, we will have to leave early. Else, we would have to return home in the dark,” Grandpa sounded a little concerned.
“In the dark? How will we find our way back in the dark, Grandpa? That would be scary.”
“We don’t have to get scared. There’s a lighthouse near the beach, so that should help us to navigate,” said Grandpa.
“What is a lighthouse, Grandpa?” asked Mia.
“I shall tell you when we get into the boat. Let’s wear our life jackets now, pack water and some snacks and start right away, lest we might get late,” said Grandpa, pointing to the life jackets.
“Can I take my sand toys too if we are going to the Merry Beach?” asked Mia.
“Of course, you can, my little Mia!” said Grandpa, picking up two life jackets.
“Why should we wear a life jacket, Grandpa?” asked Mia, extending her hand to the smaller of the two jackets.
Mia and Grandpa buckled their life jackets tight while Grandpa began to explain, “Life jackets prevent us from drowning, in case we accidentally happen to fall into the water.”
“How does the life jacket work?”
Exercise I: You will need a bucket or a vessel of water, a spoon and a paper boat. Follow Grandpa’s instructions below.
Place a spoon in a bucket of water. Observe what happens. The spoon would get to the bottom of the bucket. Why? Because, the spoon is heavier. Now place a your paper boat on the water surface inside the bucket. The boat would float instead because it is made of paper which is light in weight. This is exactly how a life jacket works. The inside of a life jacket is made of a material called foam, which is lighter in weight, keeping it afloat on water.
Grandpa continued, “That is why wearing a life jacket is an important boating navigation rule. Also, we must take care to wear the right size of the jacket. If you were to wear my jacket, it would be too loose for you, making you less fit to float. On the other hand, if you wear a tight jacket, it might tighten your neck while floating.”
“Now, it makes sense to wear my life jacket. But, Grandpa, why are life jackets orange in colour?” asked Mia.
“Imagine that someone wearing a green or a blue jacket is crying out for help, after been caught in sea waves. How likely are you to spot the person from a distance?” asked Grandpa.
“May be not easy,” answered Mia.
“May be because green and blue are too close to differentiate,” reasoned Mia.
“Brilliant, Mia! Orange, yellow and red are bright colours that can be easily identified even from a distance. That is why most life jackets come in these colours,” explained Grandpa.
Exercise II for kids: How many orange jackets and blue jackets can you find in the picture below?
If you could spot three orange jackets and five blue jackets, you’ve found all of them! Check the circled life jackets in the picture below.
Which colour was easier to find?
Mia enjoyed the boat ride as Grandpa moved the boat away from the shore.
Grandpa began, “Do you see a tall building in white and red, near the shore?” asked Grandpa.
“Yes, what is it?” asked Mia.
“It is a lighthouse,” answered Grandpa.
“Why is this building so tall, Grandpa?
“I’ll tell you why,” Grandpa continued to brief a few facts about the lighthouse:
- A lighthouse is a tall tower, located mostly near the shores of oceans or seas, which helps the sailors in navigation.
- The top of the tower has a bright light which keeps rotating in some light houses. During night, sailors can spot the light from the lighthouse even if they are sailing far from the shore, because the light in the lighthouse is situated at a huge height from the land. The light warns the sailors that a shore or rock is near.
- During times of heavy fog, the light from the lighthouse might not penetrate through the fog, to be seen by the sailors. In such times, a foghorn which produces warning sound, operates from the lighthouse.
- Thus, navigation in dark is made easier by the light and foghorn from the lighthouse.
“Awh! The lighthouse is interesting, Grandpa.”
“It is, little Mia. Here we come to the Merry Beach. Let’s get down to play.” informed Grandpa. Mia had fun building sand castles while Grandpa enjoyed the fish bites on his feet in water. As dusk had set in, Grandpa called out Mia to get back to the boat.
It became dark and the light that reached them from the distant lighthouse, helped Grandpa to keep a track of the direction they had to move towards.
All of a sudden, halfway through the sea, the light from the lighthouse went off. Grandpa and Mia were caught in darkness.
“It’s unfortunate! I’ve hardly seen the light go off in several years,” exclaimed Grandpa.
“Can we still find our way, Grandpa?” asked Mia.
“I don’t think so,” replied Grandpa worried.
A thought struck to Mia, “Grandpa, which direction should we move towards, to reach home?” asked Mia.
“The North, my little girl,” answered Grandpa with worry and concern filling his voice.
“I know how we can find our way back home, Grandpa. Last week, Mommy and I were at the terrace where she explained how the North Star can help sailors to navigate,” spoke Mia with great interest. (Check the link to the previous story where Mommy explains Mia about the North Star).
“The North Star? Yes, you are right, Mia. The North Star always points to the North which has helped sailors in early days to navigate through the seas. I used to tell stories about the stars and moon to your mother and uncle when they were little children like you,” said Grandpa.
“Yes, it was one of your stories that Mommy told me the other day. I think I know how to find the North Star. First look for the Big Dipper. Hmm……here it is. Isn’t that the Big Dipper, Grandpa?” asked Mia, pointing to the sky.
“Oh yeah, you are right! That’s the Big Dipper,” Grandpa sounded relieved now.
“Locate the two stars that are farthest from the tail end. Here they are. Draw a line with your vision and come a little downwards…..and here it is, the North Star!” screamed Mia in joy.
“Good job, Mia. I am impressed with your navigating skills,” appreciated, Grandpa. “Let’s ride our boat towards the direction of the North Star, we shall reach home in sometime,” said Grandpa, feeling happy about how one of his own stories has come for their rescue, after several years.
Thus, guided by the North Star, Mia and Grandpa reached home safely.
It was an interesting boat ride, wasn’t it?
If you and your children enjoyed reading this story and doing the exercises, please drop in a line below. I would love to hear your experiences.