Originally Posted by Ninefingers
I would love to know how to use paper charts better, but I don't believe there is any formal teaching in my area.
I think there are a couple things you could do in leu of formal training on marine charts.
1: Buy the charts or at least a chartbook and keep it in the cockpit, open to the page where you're at. Continue to rely on your current methods but start practicing looking around and spotting islands and buoys and seeing them in relation to your chart. "That island must be this one on the chart, and my iphone says we're here, so if I come around the corner I should see a red buoy. Lets look for it."
2: Take an orienteering or land navigation course from your local hiking/backpacking/mountaineering club. About 90% of the skill you need to be a good marine paper chart navigator crosses over to orienteering. Once you get good at reading land maps you can look at your chart, and look around, and just know "you are here."
I was never trained on marine charts, but grew up in the scouts and my school did orienteering competitions every year. The transition to marine charts was nearly seamless. The only issue is that I didn't buy "chart 1" which is the chart's legend of symbols. Ask me some day how I found out what "green" means on the chart.