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Hello,

I am new to sailing correctly. I haven't even bought a boat yet but I am researching it and when I do, I want to be extremely prepared. Right now I would like to know how to use charts and how to plug numbers into my hand held garmen to get to a specific location. Any good advice or good sites to teach me Ocean map reading 101. I am located off the southern coast of texas near Port Lavaca TX. Thank you.
 

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S2 7.9 Bear Lake, UT
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Library

You've got a GPS already, then you don't need to understand charts, you actually won't need charts with a GPS.

Learning to read and understand charts is not easy to do, not impossible, I just don't think you are going to learn it online.

Time to hit the library and check out every book you can find on sailing. Find out which ones make sense to you and go out and buy them. My sailing library overflows from 2 shelves. Two quick references for you to start out with is Annapolis book of Seamanship or Chapman Piloting, also Don Caseys inspecting the aging sailboat or "complete sailboat maintenance manual". Go buy a chart of your cruising area as well to help study and start daydreaming with. Its a great way to learn and get you excited about your home waters.
 

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Take a USCG Power Squadron course on boating. The basic has an introduction to boating, safety, rules of the road and basic navigation.
They also offer advanced navigation courses, some conducted on the water.


USPS Educational Department
 

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get Nigel Calder's book "How to Read Nautical Charts". And the post above that if you have a GPS you dont need to know this is wrong. First, GPS maps are based on nautical charts and use many of the same symbols. Second, GPS's sometimes break and you need to have a chart handy when they do.
 

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I am not sure about US requirements.

In Canada, the Charts and Nautical Publications Regulations, 1995 requires that charts and other publications are required. There are exceptions for vessels under 100 tons on which the master or owner has sufficient local knowledge.

GPS should supplement paper charts, not vice-versa. The charts in chartplotters and GPS cannot be updated. And some of them are simply incorrect; as an example, the military area Whiskey Kilo (WK) south of Victoria, BC is show as a wreck.

Take a navigation course. There are certain chart symbols that should be committed to memory: rocks (3 kinds), kelp, submarine cables, etc.. The buoyage system should also be learned; you should eb able to recognize aids to navigation by sight, by the chart symbol and the light characteristics.

Learn to use your eyes rather than a GPS.

Jack
 

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You've got a GPS already, then you don't need to understand charts, you actually won't need charts with a GPS.
That is an incorrect and dangerous statement. Follow it at your peril. :mad:

It may work for a while, but where will you be when the battery dies, or you take a wave on it, or..., or .... :puke

ASA has a navigation course. I'll second the Annapolis Book of Seamanship as a great reference.

Do you have any experience with more intricate maps, like topographic maps? That might help. How good are you with a compass? Do you know what deviation is? If not, take a course! Even if you do, take a course! (I am planning on it myself.) That is the only way you'll be 'extremely prepared', unless you crew for someone (both experienced and qualified) who will teach you.

I don't know if there is a handheld Garmin that will do what you want. If there is, I wouldn't trust it.

I've heard it said here - don't trust any single method of navigation.
 

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I was kidding

I was hoping he or anyone else reading that seriously does not believe it when i said as all you need is a GPS. I was hoping whoever read that took from it the message, that the place to learn to sail is not a website. Taking a class is a good start if you have the time, I have learned most of what I know from my reading books and then trying it out on the water.

I am a firm believer in real honest to goodness navigation skills and have been an instructor in this subject. My favorite trick was to pull a CB on the GPS and ask the person where are we, and how do we get where we're going, I've seen someone start to hyperventilate from panic when the GPS was inoperative. One of the funniest things I have seen is someone navigating around the Bahamas using a GPS, Computer, Software combination. Starring at the computer screen to make sure you were right on the dotted line while crossing between islands, not even looking out to see the beautiful views.
 

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Boaters Bowditch is another good book on navigation, also pick up Chart 1, it's a book rather than an actual chart and has all the symbols used on US charts, if you plan to sail in US waters.
 

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yippeekayay--

A good starting point for your would be ASA Store: Coastal Navigation Manual, Solutions Workbook & DVD followed up with one or more of the Coast Guard Aux classes that are offered for very little money in most areas. Chart work and coastal navigation really isn't that demanding but it is absolutely necessary for safe sailing.

FWIW...
 

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Charts or GPS

Charts and GPS are both usable and necessary. But the first thing you need, before you need either one of these, is some common sense and the ability to think. Find you some old charts, doesn't matter what area they are, or how old. Use these to find lat and lon to put into your handheld, figure yourself out a course from point A to point B, and find the compass course and distance for it. And one of the books mentioned is also a good starting point.
 

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GPS versus charts

I was scared when I first saw a note saying that all you need is a GPS.

I was feeling better once I saw nobody shared this statement.

In Canada, by law you need to have charts up-to-date for the area where you sail on board of your vessel. But nobody will be asking you if you know how to use them. This is very strange to me and in fact another story.

It exist a similarly law in Europe. Thus I guess it is the same in the US.

But we are not talking about law, we are talking about safety and common sense.

If you rely only on GPS, you will have sooner than later to face issues. Never assume than something is right, always double-check. First use charts, next check with GPS. If something is wrong, use charts as a reference.

Some gave you valuable books to read (the one is like is The Annapolis book of Seamanship) . They are plenty of them and always a source of interest from one to another.

Forget the internet for what you want to learn here.

My path will be
Read a few books
Read Chart # 1 (a book that describe symbols used on charts)
Practice alone to see where you stand.
Take a course (you will be already introduced with charts concepts, declination, variation and so on by your readings)
And practice.

If you have time for reading and practicing, I will say within 2 or 3 months you should be able to plot your route safety on charts, including tides and leeway.

If you use a GPS you will be from point A to point B.

If you use charts you will sail from point A to point B with safety.

Next, I am sure you would like to experiment how to use a sextant.

When you reach a port with a GPS you are happy.
When you reach a port with the use of a sextant, you are always amazed how stars and sun where able to give such a good direction within thousand of miles.

Have a good learn, and sail safety.
 

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You've got a GPS already, then you don't need to understand charts, you actually won't need charts with a GPS.
....
Is way bad advice on several levels...here's my favorite...the only time sI have put myself into trouble navigating has been when I slipped into relying on the GPS without referencing a paper chart also. The GPS screens are so small you often cannot get a good visual of the entire course you will be taking. It becomes very easy to put in a destination and start navigating towards it without having seen the details of the course line produced by that destination. The GPS will very happily plot you a course that takes you over an island or other obstacles...then the question becomes whether you see the obstacle as it eventually appears on the screen.
 
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