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NeilAW 05-24-2012 11:49 AM

Traditional Navigation

I have been lurking around here recently, and have noticed that there is some contention between traditional navigation and electronic ( Chart-plotter, Hand held GPS etc.)

I am not here to stir that pot, but to ask what the best way to go about learning traditional navigation skills, from taking sights, to celestial navigation. A book? Try to find a person skilled in such and ask for some instruction?


misfits 05-24-2012 11:52 AM

Re: Traditional Navigation

nolatom 05-24-2012 11:57 AM

Re: Traditional Navigation
Start with traditional "piloting", that is, navigation by reference to land objects rather than celestial ones.

Where? Look for the nearest Power Squadron or Coast Guard Auxiliary course as a good start. Lacking that, read Chapman's Piloting Seamanship and Small Boat Handling, it's the 'classic'.

Then, once you know how to take fixes and do chart work, you can move on to the electronic part, where you can get your lat and long off the GPS. Then, you could start plotting on electronic charts in addition to your paper one.

*Then*, you could look into celestial. But I would get the paper nav/plotting/compass work down first. You will use this a lot more than electronic in real life on a small boat. And you'll use GPS assistance a lot more than celestial. The latter is now used mostly to keep up the skills and as a last-ditch backup if all electronics fail you.

So start with grade school. What you learned thru 6th grade is most of what you use every day. Same with Basic chart navigation. GPS is wonderful and quick. But it's the second story you build only after the foundation and the first floor.

Donna_F 05-24-2012 12:02 PM

Re: Traditional Navigation

Originally Posted by NeilAW (Post 875078)

...what the best way to go about learning traditional navigation skills, from taking sights, to celestial navigation. A book? Try to find a person skilled in such and ask for some instruction?


Hi Neil. It rather depends on the way in which you learn. I have the books and the sextant but I haven't put butt to chair to teach myself. If you do better with an instructor, the US Power and Sail Squadron teaches a celestial nav course.

justified 05-24-2012 12:04 PM

Re: Traditional Navigation
I'll 2nd Nolatom's comments not much more to add.

NeilAW 05-24-2012 03:21 PM

Re: Traditional Navigation
Thanks for all the replies, and I'll take a look at Chapman's as well as ASA in my area.

As far as finding charts to learn off of, is there a good all around source, or are they more localy found?

I am already familiar with orienting a map and use of a compass on land, but perhaps there are some new skillsets when used at sea.

Again, thankyou for the responces.


Capt.aaron 05-24-2012 04:25 PM

Re: Traditional Navigation
If your serious about learning you could join a Tallship traditional sailing school. I joined one for a 9 month program and stayed on board for 4 years. That's extreme and I was 19, but they have 1 and 2 month porgrams. They will put you on a watch and traditional navigation techniques will become second nature. There is a lady at the Marine Professional Institute in Ft. lauderdale that teaches the celestial class and may be the best in the country at teaching it. There are books on short method noon sites that may satisfy your want to get a fix from the heaven's.

erps 05-24-2012 04:30 PM

Re: Traditional Navigation
An instructor's course I took years ago described learning styles. We learned that folks have different learning styles. "Show, tell, do" is probably the best method to learn a skill. I bet a dock mate would be willing to take a few moments to show/tell/do coastal navigations skills with you. Celest,,,,I had to read a book for that.

NeilAW 05-24-2012 04:58 PM

Re: Traditional Navigation
Well, I have both Chapman's and the Annapolis book headed my way.

While a spell on a Tall Ship perks my interest, that is a little out of reach at the moment.

Thanks for the pointers all!


NeilAW 05-24-2012 06:57 PM

Re: Traditional Navigation
Milutin, thanks!

A few quick serches turned up little as far as instruction.

Do you have any sites you prefer?


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