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Coastal navigation

Updated on November 12, 2012

Home Study Coastal Navigation

This lens will introduce the fundamental skills and knowledge required to navigate a vessel in coastal waters.

Successful completion of the home-study Coastal Navigation course leads to Canadian Yachting Association certification.

The knowledge of Coastal Navigation is of benefit to anyone who operates a sail boat, power boat, kayak or fishing boat. If you work or play on the water and need to know how to read a chart, determine your position, and use the Tide and Current Tables, will find this course useful.

Material Connection Disclosure:

Gulf Islands Cruising School Ltd. may have an affiliate relationship and/or another material connection to the providers of goods and services mentioned on this site and may be compensated when you purchase from a provider.

You should always perform due diligence before buying goods or services from anyone.

Skills you will learn

The Coastal Navigation course teaches:

How to read a chart, Symbols and Abbreviations

How to plot a course

How to take bearings

How to plot a fix

How to read Tide and Current Tables">

Boating FAQ's
Boating FAQ's

Boating FAQ's Ebook

Boating FAQ's written by Bruce Stott is now available on-line

71 tips to make your boating safer and more relaxed.

Some of the topics covered include:

Navigation - chart symbols and abbreviations and the common mistake many boaters make regarding currents

Regulations and Licensing - what Regulations apply to Pleasure and Non-Pleasure vessels

Chartering and Instructing - what do I need to charter a vessel and how to become an Instructor

Safety - mandatory equipment, float plan, pre-departure checklist

Anchoring - choosing an anchorage, scope, anchoring procedure

Navigation Equipment

Required navigational equipment is a little different for large and small boats but all marine navigation is dependent upon knowing these five things:

- Direction

- Speed

- Time

- Distance and

- Depth


Since you need to know these five things, you require navigational gear that will give accurate information about all five of them regardless of the size of boat.

A compass is a necessity and we aren't discussing one of those freebies that come in breakfast cereal. You need a big and steady compass that can be easily read even in adverse weather conditions. A compass gives direction which is the first information that you need for navigation.

If you wear a digital watch (water proof and shock proof,) and one with a stop watch function, you can determine the next three pieces of required information for navigation. If you know any two of the next three factors (speed, time and distance) the third can be easily calculated using the Sixty D Street formula covered in the Home Study Coastal Navigation Course .

Essentially you can cover 4 of the 5 required pieces of navigational information with a compass, a digital watch and a knotmeter which will give you speed and distance travelled.

A simple depth finder can cover the 5th requirement but if you can, find and buy a good GPS/Chart Plotter/Depth Sounder unit. These units aren't all that inexpensive but when you consider the value of human life they aren't all that expensive either.

You should always carry paper charts covering your planned route. As anyone who operates a personal computers knows all too well, electronics can breakdown and it's always at the worst possible moment. A compass and a paper chart will still be there even if the entire electrical system on your powerboat fails.

How to take Bearings

When taking bearings from a moving vessel, it is important to take the bearings quickly so that there is little change in position. Bearings that are taken off to the side of the vessel will change more quickly than bearings that are ahead or astern. Therefore, take the bearings to either side of the vessel together to minimize the position error.

Navigation Books on Amazon

Free Introduction to Coastal Navigation

NEW! Free Introduction to Coastal Navigation delivered to your In box over five days. You will receive periodic emails containing tips, news and product information. You will be able to unsubscribe at any time.

Sign up for the Free Introduction..

Introduction to VHF Radio Operations

Restricted Radio Operator's Certificate (Maritime) ROC(M)

Anyone operating a fixed or portable marine radio in a pleasure boat is required by law to have a Restricted Operator's Certificate (Maritime).

Note: Operating a VHF radio without an operator's certificate may result in a fine.

Follow the link for a free 8 lesson Introduction to VHF Radio Operations

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      8 years ago


      I like your lens, very useful and inspiring. thank you.


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