Senior Smart Aleck
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Richmond, Virginia
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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 08:40 AM.