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ASA 105 Coastal Navigation Exam
Just passed the test last night for the ASA 105 Coastal Navigation class. For those that are thinking of taking the course or studying for the test, I figured I'd post what I can remember and how I approached it.
First, I found kansascitysailing.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/ASA-205-Navigation-test-review-questions-Version-D2.pdf. This practice plotting test invaluable. Make sure you go through it 2-3 times and UNDERSTAND everything on it.
Pay attention in class and try to do the work ahead of the class, so you can ask questions. This is important, do not get behind or you will either drop out or fail the test.
If I had to do it over again, I would have purchased a couple extra 1210 TR training charts for $6 each. paracay.com/store/nautical-books/for-boat-owners/instructional-text-books/noaa-training-chart-1210-tr-marthas-vineyard-to-block-island. The one I had got pretty ratty with holes in it.
Here is what I remember from the test:
You will be using a fresh 1210 TR Martha's Vineyard training chart with the symbols on the back. Figure out where the bulk of your plotting will be and draw Latitude and Longitude reference lines across the chart, to aid with locating items on the chart. A lot of time can be wasted taking measurements to find a damn buoy as a starting or waypoint, when some reference lines would get you quickly in the general area.
Chart symbols - your asked to identify a series of symbols, all of which are on the back fo the chart you are given with which to take the test. Take your time but not too much time. The best thing to do is study the back of your chart before the test, so you know where blocks of items are located. Again, you can waste a LOT of time here if you don't know where to look.
Aids to Navigation - identify buoys/markers. You need to memorize the following chart. All of the questions on this subject were covered by this chart.
This was barely covered in class and the only other person to pass the test almost failed because he hadn't brushed up on this.
You are asked where you would find charts locally. Seriously. I was taking the class in a different city but luckily remembered a place. Online is not an answer.
Who is responsible for updating US Nautical charts? NOAA is responsible for updating charts
Name four instruments (other than charts & publications) necessary for coastal navigation
Name four pieces of information found on chart title block
Name four navigational publications other than charts important for coastal navigation
To obtain max detail while sailing close to land which chart would be used? Circle correct answer.
What publication do you use to know when to update your charts?
Then you have plotting questions (drawing on the chart) and tide/current problems. The instructor suggested (thankfully) that you skip the plotting and complete the tide/current questions first. Thankfully I took his advice. They're worth a lot of points for the amount of time taken, compared to the plotting. You need to have tide/current down cold. Seriously. Do every practice problem you can get your hands on. Once you have it down, it's pretty easy but if you don't, you will screw these up.
Last are the plotting questions.
You are given the 1210 TR Martha's Vineyard training chart and asked to plot a bunch of courses on it, to cover dead reckoning, time speed distance, current, leeway, position fixes, running fixes and danger bearings. Essentially, everything you covered in class for plotting is covered in a question, one way or another. Thankfully, everything is done as of 1985 so you don't need to add Variation other than what's posted on the chart. You will know how to add and subtract East or West Deviations.
It goes something like this:
Find two buoys (given Lat & Long) - Plot A to B.
Depart red buoy #12 on a course at 0730 & proceed at a speed of 4 knots.
What is your true course, magnetic, compass course?
What is the position of your 0930 DR?
Continue on the compass course established above. You see this buoy, what is your bearing per steering compass?
At 1000 hours, the following bearing obtained is (3 bearings given).
What is your 1000 fix (Lat & Long).
Assuming the difference between your 1000 Fix and 1000 DR is caused by current
What is the Set & Drift?
Then you're asked to make more plots in different areas and asked to solve a running fix problem, drift and wind problems.
A Danger Bearing problem is given.
You need to be able to work quickly through the plotting problems. If you don't know how to do them you will run out of time and will fail. Period.
Again, do the practice exam listed at the beginning of this post. It's invaluable to prepping you. You need to be able to complete it within 1.5 hours to leave time for the other questions.
Hope this helps. Nothing I've posted here should give anything away. You need to know all of this to pass. This is by far the most difficult ASA course, IMO.