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0verdrive 09-18-2013 10:36 AM

Learning navigation while land-locked?
I was recently reading the "21st Century Seamanship" thread, which got me thinking.

I've only sailed for a couple years, and those have been on a small lake in Kansas. So I've never bothered with navigation of any sort - gps or otherwise - since I never get far out of sight of the club. What's worse, with a two-year old, I haven't been able to get out at all for the past couple years.

But even if I can't be out sailing, I could spend some time building navigational skills. I obviously don't need them on a small lake, but when my daughter is old enough, I plan on getting a boat I can sail in the great lakes, and (in the far future) I'd like to go to the Bahamas. That may be years away, but I can keep the dream alive by learning everything I can in the meantime.

That said, I'm not sure where to start. "Dead Reckoning" doesn't mean much on land, since the sightings I'm likely to see are street signs rather than lighthouses, etc. But I could learn how to use the sun/stars to determine my location, which would be interesting and perhaps eventually helpful.

Is there a good resource (books or otherwise) that people would recommend? Even though I'm landlocked, I could still probably use the same equipment I'd use on a boat - what equipment would I need? (sextant, compass, charts, etc)? Since I'm on land rather than the ocean, could I use an atlas as a chart?

I know that because I'm on land, many of the aspects of navigation won't be applicable - "plotting a course" doesn't make much sense, for example. But just being able to figure out where I am might be a start. And the more information about what to do once you have your bearings (plotting a course, accounting for speed, etc) is always helpful, if not immediately applicable.

RainDog 09-18-2013 10:48 AM

Re: Learning navigation while land-locked?
I learned a ton from this book:
Highly recommended.

JollyMon 09-18-2013 10:48 AM

Re: Learning navigation while land-locked?
I am Newbie, but I am currently taking the ASA 105 Coastal Navigation course by home study. There is not a "practical applications" part of the test, so it works for home study.

You have to buy your own tools (sextant not needed for this course), but the course materials are very good and include instruction on a DVD.

I have just started it, so I cannot give you tons of detail, but so far so good.

I plan to take my test at a local library that will (for a fee) proctor exams. I am doing mine through Maryland School of Sailing and Seamanship. They have been helpful.

Shop around if you are going to do it by home study. You can find the course for $295 and lower.

Good luck!

flandria 09-18-2013 11:08 AM

Re: Learning navigation while land-locked?
If there is a Power Squadron in your neighbourhood, check it out. They may offer a Piloting or Navigation course. We took one, over one winter, many years ago, and are still amazed at how comprehensive it was. Since it is "in class", you have the benefit of interacting with instructors/proctors and fellow students.

Seaduction 09-18-2013 12:22 PM

Re: Learning navigation while land-locked?
This'll do the trick: Dutton Navigation: Books | eBay

Minnesail 09-18-2013 12:31 PM

Re: Learning navigation while land-locked?
I second the ASA 105. I took that this spring and it was a lot of fun. Even if you never use it, I think it's useful to understand the fundamentals. If you like maps and math, you can't go wrong.

badsanta 09-18-2013 12:33 PM

navigation has some online classes. I have only taken their sailing class and it was topnotch compaired to others I have taken

pcarlson 09-18-2013 12:48 PM

Re: Learning navigation while land-locked?
I would add that if you have a Coast Guard Auxiliary or Power Squadron close by take a class. Start with the basics and keep practicing them as you learn more. You get a cheep GPS and use it to find locations and learn Latitude & Longitude and get comfortable using them. You can use the GPS for geo-cashing as well, fun with the kids. Celestial is the last step and not for the faint of heart, have good working knowledge of the rest before starting celestial. One last thing, this not like riding a bike, if you don’t use it you will forget it. The basics are all that hard but practice using different ways to find your location. You can get a training chart for less than half of a regular one but do not scrimp on tools. See you can use someone’s before you buy so you have an idea of what you like.

ellenwhite2 09-18-2013 06:16 PM

Learning navigation while land-locked?
Power Squadron, or Sail and Power Squadron, as now renamed in our region, offer excellent courses in navigation, weather, cruise planning, sail, etc. Courses I have taken are usually multi- week, are very affordable, and also allow you to connect with other sailors, as well as ....stink potters..... In your area. Check them out!

manatee 09-19-2013 02:30 AM

Re: Learning navigation while land-locked?
Free books-

"Step By Step Sextant User's Guide" - Andrew Evans -

celestial navigation:
Celestial Navigation

"American Practical Navigator" - Bowditch
Maritime Safety Information

Coast Pilots & Charts from NOAA:
United States Coast Pilot®

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