Understanding how to navigate is a lost art to many people. With GPS plotters, smartphones with apps, and all the latest technology many people feel no need to learn about reading a chart or finding their position the "old fashion way." If all you do is cruise around your local area or inland lake, this may be true; but if you get out of sight of land and suddenly you have no electrical and no phone service what do you do then? Understanding the basics of chart reading and navigation make you a better, safer captain of your vessel!
Here are the basics you should know:
Learn the symbols, terms, and abbreviation on a chart
Click on the U.S. Chart No. 1 Image to the right to download a very detailed guide to everything on a nautical chart. Or CLICK HERE to go to our brief tutorial on how to read a nautical chart.
You Must Learn To Figure Out Where You Are
If are completely unaware of your location; one of the most basic (and best) ways to accomplish this feat is triangulation. CLICK HERE TO LEARN HOW TO PERFORM THIS PROCESS.
Understand On A Chart, Course Over Ground (COG) is Different Than Your Heading When Moving
Wind, current, tide movements, etc., all change the actual course your boat travels in the water (course over ground, COG); typically away from the direction your compass heading and bow of the boat is pointed. When navigating from point A to point B on the water, these factors need to factor in or you miss “point B.”
Know How to Calculate A Bearing To Your Next Point
Using this method for each course leg is how to plan a route from one location to another. It may be as simple as a single leg or many different legs of a complicated or lengthy trip. Each course leg must also consider current, wind, and other factors that require heading adjustments. CLICK HERE TO LEARN HOW TO PLAN A ROUTE WITH MULTIPLE LEGS
Understanding Dead Reckoning Navigation
Dead reckoning is not exact navigation and uses time, direction, and speed to estimate position. You also need to consider current and wind as they impact your direction of travel. It requires a compass, a chart, parallel rulers, a set of dividers, and a stop watch. It’s important to understand and fun to set up next to your chart plotter to compare your routes as you travel. CLICK HERE TO LEARN ABOUT NAVIGATION BY DEAD RECKONING.