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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am new to sailing and have a 1974 Oday 27. I live on the west coast of Vancouver Island (Victoria). I hear some of the waters here can be tricky and I need to understand the navigational ins and outs. Would it be best to take a course or can it be self taught with a steep learning curve. Any thoughts?
 

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Deep Blue Crush
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I would say that depends on you. Some people learn better through courses, other people learn better through self-education. And probably a combination of both is best.
Right now I started studying celestial navigation myself, bought some books and just studying them, when I don't understand something I just google it. Looking now for a sextant as well, and nowadays it would be so easy to test yourself considering all the electronics you have available as well.
All in all, I would say its always best to start studying yourself and then if you feel it doesn't go well look for some courses as well. Its always better to go for the courses anyhow a little bit prepared.
 

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Bluenoser
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I learned my navigation skills from about age 18 to 29 from a number of mentors; for shortening the learning curve I would recommend a Canadian Power Squadron course.
 

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Remember you're a womble
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James, what sort of navigation are you looking to do? For day sailing, no need really, as long as you can look at a chart, look at the coast/markers and figure out pretty much where you are then you are good to go.
If you're planning on overnight voyages around the area then you need a little more work, but dead-reckoning and celestial navigation are zero use just off Victoria, by the the time you figure out where you think you are, you have probably already run into an island :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Thank you so much for the advice. And particularly Captain Obvious for pointing out how much help I need. Who knew. I am fortunate to have a few solid sailors among my friends. They are more than willing to help, so I think I might be okay given some time. I'm starting with small day trips until I have an idea what I'm doing. I'm in no rush for overnighters. However I am excited about sailing from Ladysmith to Victoria next week to bring my O'day home. My sailing instructor is coming with me so I know it will be fun.
 

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Remember you're a womble
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That'll be a great trip down, wave as you go past Sidney and make sure you hit the passes at the right time or you are going to be fighting some interesting currents. Also make sure you have plenty of fuel for the trip, that's a decent length to try and do in a day and the wind has been pretty light all summer. A current atlas and tables are your friend - learn how to use them, tides tell you very little about currents.
 

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Thank you so much for the advice. And particularly Captain Obvious for pointing out how much help I need. Who knew. I am fortunate to have a few solid sailors among my friends. They are more than willing to help, so I think I might be okay given some time. I'm starting with small day trips until I have an idea what I'm doing. I'm in no rush for overnighters. However I am excited about sailing from Ladysmith to Victoria next week to bring my O'day home. My sailing instructor is coming with me so I know it will be fun.
I was just teasing you but it actually sounds like you are doing everything right, local knowledge is everything. Remember every mistake is a lesson learned, we've all been there...
 

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Hi James,

You are the only one who can answer the question really. If you're not the kind of person that can read, further research and understand something all on your own... maybe a structured course is best for you. Either way - don't forget to use the forum (wealth of experience and knowledge). Lots of sailors here in the PNW to help you with local knowledge also.

Dave
 

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Second the recommendation of the Canadian Power and Sail Squadron's basic boating course. Inexpensive, readily available and it will get you started down a good path.

The charting section of the course is invaluable, and deals with compass variation & deviation, chart symbols, and good old fashioned plotting practices.

Sailing in your area involves significant currents, keep your eyes outside the boat and always be aware of where you are and which way you're actually moving (not necessarily the same way you're pointing/heading....)
 

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Sometimes you get a book that jus clicks and makes sense and gives you the backgrounding you need. Mixter's Primer of Navigation is a good one of those, it assumes you know nothing and takes you up through all the steps so you have a solid foundation. Other authors may be more modern and topically focused for you.

But it can't hurt to try reading up, see what makes sense and doesn't, and then go take a course anyway. There are good and bad instructors (I heard one talking about the "loober line"" on the compass one day, I held my peace) but at least in a course you can stick up your hand and say "I don't get it" and someone should be able to explain the part you don't get.
 

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Your first voyage with your sailing instructor will be a great time to work out a float plan that includes planning for tidal currents. That sailing at 5 knots going backward at 2 knots really sucks. I would guess that every sail from Victoria, even a day sail will have to consider and plan for tidal currents.
Happy sails to you.
John
 

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Happy sails to you.
John
i like that. swap the trails for sails. ingenius. now i have that song in my head...with sails in the place of trails.:laugher
 

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I have sailed the Pacific North West for 30 years. It is one of the hardest places to sail - as there is little wind. More importantly it is one of the hardest place to navigate:

Currents can run 16.5 knots (Sechelt Rapids)
Tides range from 13.5 to 18 feet (Desolation Sound)
Lots of unmarked, but charted hazards

I also teach coastal navigation with a focus on the PNW. Take a course, preferably in a classroom, with an instructor who is intimate in the area. There are lots of opportunities for courses in your area. Pick up a copy of Pacific Yachting, there are lots of ads and the Power Squadron usually has a list of the courses they they are teaching.
 
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I usually find I agree with Mr Jackdales comments.

Not this time.

The PNW is a lovely sheltered relatively easy area to sail.
You can go from Victoria to Port Hardy without leaving sheltered water.
Navigation is relatively easy mostly deep water up close to shore. Lots of marks and easily identified features.
There are a few strong currents. In narrow channels.
Tide ranges only 3 to 4 m.

I would agree doing a course is the best way to learn. Power Squadron is perfect.
You have an instructor.
Hope you enjoy or enjoyed your trip down from Ladysmith.

By the Canadian tide tables. The instructions are in the back. Once you have figured the tide tables out get the Atlas.

Sansum Narrows is listed, other than that it wont be a problem.
 

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I have sailed the Pacific North West for 30 years. It is one of the hardest places to sail - as there is little wind.

This I will agree with. After (2) 9 day cruises this summer (July and August), I got to sail for 3-4 hours on each trip. The rest of the time I was a stick boat. :(
 

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I fully endorse a Canadian Power and Sail Squadron course. We took ours now almost 27 years ago - navigation that included set, drift, but also fundamentals. If the course has remained at least as good - and the proctors are up to the task - it is time well spent over the winter, one night per week. There's got to be a very active Squadron in Victoria, so check them out by all means. Not only will you learn, but you will rub shoulders with instructors who know the local waters, probably befriend them, and have a circle of knowledgeable people with whom to interact.

Have fun.
 
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