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Harborless 10-10-2012 04:31 PM

Help With Offshore Navigation
Long time coming my fellow sailing compatriots. Some of you may remember me through the past year and a half as I started the search for a boat, bought qa project, fixed it up, moved aboard, and now am ready to do some offshore.

Basically, The boat is 100% reqady to go so we are not talking safety.

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. I will check back to reply often.
Thanks sailnet members and I look forward to seeing you out on the water! 25 years old living the dream!

Faster 10-10-2012 04:40 PM

Re: Help With Offshore Navigation
You have a couple of months.... find and sign up for the nearest Power and Sail squadron basic boating course. It will be the best $200 you've spent and will set you on your way to knowing how to make a trip like this.

Don't go until you've figured out the basics.. this forum is not really the proper venue for such instruction.

Jacksonville Sail and Power Squadron Home Page

Skipper Jer 10-10-2012 04:52 PM

Re: Help With Offshore Navigation
Does anyone remember the poster by Sperry shoes? The one with the sailboat surfing down the face of a breaker, guy at the tiller and caption read something like
"Sea, no place for the inexperienced."

Turn on the GPS, plot the intersection of the indicated lat and long on your chart, that is where you are, more or less, assuming the charts are accurate.

Irunbird 10-10-2012 05:21 PM

Re: Help With Offshore Navigation
Great advice by Faster. I took the basic piloting course through our local USPS and had a great time. It's fairly easy and there was one guy last year who felt confident enough to make a trip to the Bahamas and back from here (Charleston). It really won't tell you anything specific about your gps, though. They mention gps technology, but it's all virtual and a bit outdated. Most of today's Garmins are fairly straight forward (and quite a bit more feature loaded), but you must play around with them to figure out how to enter waypoints and create a route. Don't try and do that on your first trip out- walk around somewhere you are familiar and experiment that way... it will take a bit of time.

Seaduction 10-10-2012 05:26 PM

Re: Help With Offshore Navigation
Plot safe waypoints on your up-to-date paper chart from start to end. Enter the waypoints into your gps. Build a route from your waypoints. Follow the route from start to finish. Disclaimer: not responsible for failure to learn proper navigation techniques.

Seaduction 10-10-2012 05:32 PM

Re: Help With Offshore Navigation
p.s.: You may need to look for the Ponce inlet (Ponce de Leon).

ottos 10-10-2012 05:44 PM

Re: Help With Offshore Navigation
Faster - Does that course cover Coastal Nav? I know ASA has a dedicated course to the subject.

Harborless - Congrats on another milestone for you!

Captainmeme's way is absolutely correct. A handheld GPS will tell you exactly where you are. As he says, it's as easy as plotting an XY graph in high school. Latitude is Y and longitude is X. That is just a very basic GPS...even the handhelds are more powerful now.

The courses mentioned give you a better idea of how to get where you want to go, even if you drop the GPS in the drink. How do you account for leeway, set and drift, or magnetic variation? Can you keep a running fix? It isn't rocket science, but it's worth taking the time to learn well, especially since you'll be single handing.

After you learn it, practice with a dry run out and back to your home port.

Faster 10-10-2012 06:27 PM

Re: Help With Offshore Navigation

Originally Posted by ottos (Post 931787)
Faster - Does that course cover Coastal Nav? I know ASA has a dedicated course to the subject.

In Canada, the CPS courses cover basic charting, plotting and bearings etc along with all the basic safety and practices including the buoyage systems. Essential when heading out on a coastal passage.

I'm sure there are ASA courses too, I just thought that USPS might be less expensive and maybe more available.. but not really sure about that.

In any event I'd feel better about the OP's odds for success with any one of those courses under his/her belt....

Flybyknight 10-10-2012 08:08 PM

Re: Help With Offshore Navigation
I hold the grade of N in the US Power Squadron and I teach C N, so I can say authoritatively that you should not even consider taking your boat out of sight of your departure point. For your immediate needs get a buddy who has the knowledge and experience to take you where you wish to go. Then:
Seamanship 1 year
Piloting 1 year
Advanced Piloting 1 year
Why? The consequences of a screw up range from a minor grounding to to drowning, with a lost boat and a legal nightmare somewhere in between.

Our Squadron does not charge for courses except for materials.


davidpm 10-10-2012 08:15 PM

Re: Help With Offshore Navigation

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