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Old 06-19-2010
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Chart Navigation

Hi everyone,

A little background...I am finishing a tour in Iraq as a Communications Officer in the Army and will be purchasing my first sailboat in a couple months. About to make an offer on an Aleutka 25!

My background is in flying...learned to fly at age 15 and received my license at 17. I also have quite a bit of ocean going experience as a cadet at one of the state Maritime Academies in Marine Engineering before life threw a curveball and I wound up with a degree in English and an Army Commission. That being said, my love for the ocean when I was with the merchant marine is what possessed me to purchase a sailboat and enjoy the water as a pleasure activity instead of work.

With all of my flying experience I know quite a bit about navigation and particularly how it is a meshing of many different sources into one "complete picture." Flying light aircraft will prove that it is not if, but when, you will lose your electrical system and be left with your paper charts and dead reckoning...things I quite enjoy (well the navigation, not losing electricity!) and am pretty comfortable with.

So with my free time over here in the sand box I have been reading all sorts of learn to sail type stuff and the last couple days I started taking a serious look at marine navigation. I will be able to transpose alot of my aviation skills to the marine world, but one question that I cannot find an answer to online is driving me nuts!

What charts do you use to plot on when you are crossing an ocean? I know, sounds stupid, but I can't nail this down. All the NOAA charts are near coastal. British Admiralty?

Let's say for example I left Costa Rica on the Pacific Side and set sail for Australia. Navigation plan as follows:

Will use electronic chartplotter/gps and will also take lat/long GPS readings and plot on my PAPER CHART as well as carry a sextant as a contingency should the chartplotter/gps and my handheld gps both fail to provide lat/long and of course I would continue plotting and correcting off of my paper chart.

I stumbled onto some weird answer to a question like this that suggested you need to use blank lat/long charts and transpose them onto another chart if you want to plot using paper across an ocean because the small scale ocean charts do not have a compass rose? That sounded weird.

Trouble is, all people want to talk about, at least online, or teach, at least on line is about chartplotters and what the latest greatest and best/worst thinga about electronic charts is. Could someone bring me up to speed on open ocean passagemaking charting? Particularly what you use to chart/plot your lat long on while on long passages as well as use to update your heading? A primer.

Thanks all, looking forward to joining the discussion here!

Resectfully

Greg
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Old 06-19-2010
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Plotting Sheets (do a search on a Chandlery website). It's also possible to use another chart at the same latitude, and then just change the longitude to whatever you need.
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So, yeah, I looked up plotting sheets...but they mainly seem somehow connected with celestial navigation...could someone explain what/how these are used? You see, with stuff like plotting sheets, this is exactly the type of thing that I cannot use any aviation navigation experience to understand...

So...my new boat will be located in South Texas on the coast. I saw a navigational chart for sale from the British Admiralty that shows the entire GoM...I could not transpose my Lat/Long coordinates onto this nav chart? I would need to use plotting sheets?

I would like to learn a technique whereby I can rely on GPS for Lat/Long information and carry a few redundant systems but I just can't shake the need/desire to do paper plotting and I would like some understanding of how one might navigate over open ocean with a chart and GPS. Now of course we can get into chartplotters and electronic charts here, and I got it, but I am trying to figure out how to do this by paper, at least at first.

Is BA the only source to find large area maps for long distance open water crossings? All the NOAA charts are near coastal.

And don't anyone worry, I have lurked around sailing boards during my deployment long enough to know there are folks who come on and ask a bunch of basic questions thinking they are about to sail off on a single handed circumnavigation...I am looking forward into enrolling into sailing classes and just learning over time...but this is a nagging question that I really would just like know for the sake of knowing and future reference...open ocean voyaging with paper charts.

Respectfully,

Greg
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greggyN View Post
So, yeah, I looked up plotting sheets...but they mainly seem somehow connected with celestial navigation...could someone explain what/how these are used? You see, with stuff like plotting sheets, this is exactly the type of thing that I cannot use any aviation navigation experience to understand...

So...my new boat will be located in South Texas on the coast. I saw a navigational chart for sale from the British Admiralty that shows the entire GoM...I could not transpose my Lat/Long coordinates onto this nav chart? I would need to use plotting sheets?

I would like to learn a technique whereby I can rely on GPS for Lat/Long information and carry a few redundant systems but I just can't shake the need/desire to do paper plotting and I would like some understanding of how one might navigate over open ocean with a chart and GPS. Now of course we can get into chartplotters and electronic charts here, and I got it, but I am trying to figure out how to do this by paper, at least at first.

Is BA the only source to find large area maps for long distance open water crossings? All the NOAA charts are near coastal.

And don't anyone worry, I have lurked around sailing boards during my deployment long enough to know there are folks who come on and ask a bunch of basic questions thinking they are about to sail off on a single handed circumnavigation...I am looking forward into enrolling into sailing classes and just learning over time...but this is a nagging question that I really would just like know for the sake of knowing and future reference...open ocean voyaging with paper charts.

Respectfully,

Greg
Greg,

If you want the whole ball of wax I've got one word for you, Bowditch.

Bowditch is free online, but I find the paper copy easier to deal with myself. It goes into great detail on everything you are probably interested in, everything from dead reckoning, plotting positions, celestial navigation, gps, you name it, it is in there, and in more detail than most people care to know.

The chapter that has information about dead reckoning (DR) would be of great interest to you, I think. I'll include a link to one online version of Bowditch, not the only one, there are others. Check out Chapter 7.

Source: Bowditch
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Thanks...I am delving into it...

You know, it's funny that I am a communications officer, and in the civilian world (I'm on a Nat'l Guard deployment) I work in communications as well. I am constantly around and working with electrical and communications systems and I think for this very reason has borne into me a knowledge of how unreliable they ultimatley are.

Is it feasible to use GPS/manual chart plotting these days? To me, when I first thought "how am I going to navigate" the first thing that came to mind was build a redundant GPS system into the boat and buy the charts for where I am headed...but I find quite a void of information regarding traveling like this...which makes me think, how am I evaluating this wrong?

I guess I am looking for validation of the "does this work" factor. Sure, it is easy and convenient with a electronic chartplotter...but to me...I would prefer, and it's just more fun to me, always has been, putting pencil to paper and plotting a course, at least that has always been my experience with flying.

So ultimatley, the question is...would this method work for bluewater passagemaking...?


...back to Bowditch...


Greg
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Greg -
With regard to your original question, just use the ocean charts. The presence of a compass rose (or lack thereof) doesn't matter.
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Mike

What exactly do you mean by ocean charts? So far the only paper charts I have been able to find that you can actually pull out and look over vast expanses of ocean have been British Admiralty Charts.

Most of how I would imagine I would navigate based on previous experience would be to plot my fixes on the chart and when a course correction needs to be made due to weather and/or human error I would need to take my current fix, make a course line to my intended destination and/or waypoint and walk it over to a compass rose and correct for magnetic variation, giving me a new bearing to steer to get back on track. This may be a really dumb question, but without a compass rose how is this accomplished? I am just used to using aviation charts where I can also do heading computations off of one.

@WindMagic

Thanks for the link...I am enjoying reading and playing around with the calculations...learning alot too...

I think alot of my questions will be answered when I can just get my hands on a BA chart or any chart that is used for offshore cruising and see what is contained on it and how you can use it for open ocean navigation.
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@ Cam (no private message privleges yet!)

Thanks! You hit the nail on the head of exactly what I was asking! Thanks!
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I have used the British Admiralty charts for open ocean crossings to keep a record of our actual track and position and plotting sheets to do the DR bit and help sort out the astro. This is all pre gps.

I seem to remember being told that the lack of the compass rose was because the deviation would be different depending on where you were on the chart.
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Greg -
Your query about charts got me looking around and it certainly looks like the Admiralty charts are your best bet. You could also google sailing charts, pilot charts, routing charts and, for that matter, maps. There is all sorts of fascinating stuff out there which may or may not help you. I think I'm about to buy a 1903 sailing chart of the North Atlantic from National Geographic to hang on the wall.
As TQA said, the compass roses are omitted due to the distances involved.
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