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Old 10-10-2012
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Re: Help With Offshore Navigation

I wonder if you find the same kind of posts as the OP in flying forums ?

Can you imagine this??....
" He I got this new plane, can some one tell me how to fly from New York To San Francisco? be very detailed on your instructions please..."

Harborless: do yourself a favor and take some classes
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Old 10-10-2012
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Re: Help With Offshore Navigation

Others have already pointed you to the best option, which is take a class.

Short of that dead reckoning your way down a coast line is not rocket science, get a good "full size" chart, dividers, parallel rules, and a compass. Read the instructions that come with the nav tool kit, read all the fine print ON THE CHART and go.

I recommend that you spend more time planning, preferably with the help of someone knowledgable, your trip before you head offshore and that you plan short hops rather than one long run down the coast.

Spend the time on your hops locating and plotting your position every hour or so so if you get in a bind at least you know where you were an ago or less.

If a class is out of the question at least pick up a book or two on the subject, the simpler the better, Boater's Bowditch is excellent but takes time and practice to get into the details.
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Old 10-10-2012
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Re: Help With Offshore Navigation

In addition to all the other recommendations, I suggest you have a nautical almanac for your area, a hand-bearing compass, and some knowledge reading shore markings off a chart.

If you stay even closer to shore, you can also determine your position by the tanks, radio towers, inlets, bridges and other shore markings. The handbearing compass can be used on shore objects to pinpoint your location and to take bearings on other boats at a distance to determine if you are on a collision course. At night, you will also be able to determine your position through dead reckoning along with the lights of coastal towns.

You should also learn to use your depth finder while navigating, not only to detect shoal water, but also to assist in locating your position on a chart.

There are buoys in the coastal ocean and you can use these to determine your position. Commercial chartbooks often include compass bearings from major waypoints on the chart.

Your handheld GPS has so many features, you will discover how you like to use it as you practice. I frequently check many different sources of information while navigating, and I second the recommendation to mark your position on your paper chart on a regular basis.

I had the benefit of learning navigation and piloting from my father, who was a U.S. Naval Captain and fighter pilot, when I was a young boy. Nevertheless, I have appreciated the refresher courses I have received, including the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary's Boating Skills and Seamanship course, which is similar to the Power Squadron's courses recommended by others.

You don't have to take courses or wait a year or sail with experienced sailors, but you better be willing to put in the time reading, studying and preparing on your own before your trip, and not expect someone else to tell you how to do it.

Last edited by jameswilson29; 10-11-2012 at 07:40 AM.
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Old 10-10-2012
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Re: Help With Offshore Navigation

On google maps that trip looks to be about 60 miles down the coast. At 6 knots for 10 hours you would just be able to cover that but you wont have the daylight in December, will you? Are you prepared to sail and navigate at night, alone?
I was 26 once (and still wish that I was) and thought I could conquer the world. I would rather sail as much as possible on your intended trip but I would consider this trip a 'delivery' and there is always the 'ditch', or ICW that connects Jacksonville and New Smyrna Beach, no? You could still have an adventure, mostly motoring down the ICW and do it in likely 2 relatively easy days.
The other options are as others have pointed out: learn how to use the GPS and navigate with charts, dead reckoning and the rest. You could practice these skills while motoring down the ICW to develop confidence. These are the skills that help you locate where the hell you are on a chart that only contains water, or charts of a coastline.
I appreciate your enthusiasm.
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Old 10-10-2012
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Re: Help With Offshore Navigation

"Turn on the GPS, plot the intersection of"
And that's exactly why he needs to take a class not ask questions on the net.

Turn on the GPS? With no knowledge about datum choices or other settings? Or any idea of how long the batteries will last? No, turning on the GPS is a bad idea unless one also takes some time to learn how to use it, what the expectable errors may be, AND also that the GPS or the system can and will go down every once in a while.

Ploot a position? gee, how do you do that? With what tools? What charts? Oh, wait, there's that datum error again. And if the GPS is set up for DDD.MMmm while the chart shows DDD.MM.SS, he's gonna be in trouble again no matter how much he plots.

No, it ain't rocket science and yes, it can be booklearned, but when push comes to shove, a couple of BASIC BOATING SAFETY and NAVIGATION classes could mean the difference between a fun trip and "Next stop, Gander, Newfoundland".

Classes are cheap enough!
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Old 10-11-2012
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Re: Help With Offshore Navigation

And in all this has anyone mentioned the dangers involved in navigating an inlet in Florida at the wrong time of the tides? Go to Sebastian inlet when the tide is running to watch
the current.
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Old 10-12-2012
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Re: Help With Offshore Navigation

The most important piece of equipment is a decent camera. My wife gave me her old camera today and I noticed it has a GPS and compass integrated.
As you will find out the most important rule here at SN is that if you don't upload pictures it doesn't count.
So all you need to do is take a picture upload it to sailnet with the gps coordinates every half hour or so and someone will recommend a course. Use the compass in the camera to sail that course.

Now if only two sailnett'er would agree on a course this might actually work.

I've just invented crowd sourced navigation.

My model camera even takes pictures up to 40' under water. So if this new navigation technique has a little glitch please bring a mini lift bag and take pictures right to the very end, then send the camera to the surface. Make sure you file a float plan with next of kin and include your sailnet username and password.

Good luck don't forget the pictures.
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Last edited by davidpm; 10-12-2012 at 01:04 AM.
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Old 10-12-2012
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Re: Help With Offshore Navigation

Originally Posted by Harborless View Post

I want to leave out of Jacksonville and sail down to the New Smyrna Beach inlet. I will be doing this trip right around Dec. 20th give or take a few days for weather window.

So basically I have a chart and I have a garmin handheld gps which I have no idea how to operate properly. I want to know what I need to do in EXCRUCIATING detail to complete this trip. I know its not much more than sailing 5-7 miles offshore and hugging the coast down but how do you know your position? I have a compass, the GPS, and some charts with a VHF radio for navigation. How would I be able to know I was at the New Smyrna inlet and not the Daytona? How do I chart my course to account for wind and current to make sure I am where I am supposed to be? I will be single handing so please be very specific and add anything you feel is pertinent.
Do yourself a favor, just motor down the ICW...

No way you can make that run in daylight on one of the shortest days of the year, even St Augustine to Ponce Inlet would be pushing it... So, you're talking about spending a night offshore, which with your level of experience is out of the question...

There are no separate inlets for Daytona and New Smyrna, Ponce Inlet serves both... In ideal conditions, Ponce is no problem, but in anything less than ideal, it can turn nasty very quickly. With the exception of Boca Raton and Jupiter, Ponce is generally considered to be one of the most challenging/dangerous inlets doable for sailing vessels on Florida's East coast...

Again, just motor on down the Ditch...
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Old 10-12-2012
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Re: Help With Offshore Navigation

I would prefer to not read about the experience in the news. I've seen enough of that.

Take a class, even if it's just on-line. Sometimes youth and exuberance can make up for age and experience - and a thousand monkeys can indeed type out the gettysburg address eventually.

Coastal navigation is not an acquired skill, it's a learned art that must be practiced. Off shore navigation is a whole other level.
Lessons learned are opportunities earned.
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Re: Help With Offshore Navigation

you need to listen to everyone here, if you don't get that your gps tells you where you are, gives you lattitude and longitude of your position and read a chart that willl gives you lat and lon of where you want to go and you program that into your gps, then you need to read, your manual and figure it out, research online, go to the library get a book, do some research dude, don't expect everyone here to tell you how to do it. you need to learn how, or ask someone that knows what their doing or least knows more than you to go with you and will show you the ropes. Go to sailors exchange in St. Augstine and see if they have a used chart plotter. map and gps all in one but you need the experience if something goes wrong. Alot can go wrong and it can turn very serious in a heart beat. Have fun but respect the ocean she takes no prisoners.
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