(Wow - this post certainly got out of hand - LOL)
Navigation is a complete science in itself and teaching it via the forum might be a challenge. I suggest you look for navigation courses in your area and take a familiarization course. Here are a couple of swing thoughts:
True North - The lines of longitude on a chart are aligned with true north which is different than magnetic north. True north is important as your cross different zones of magnetic variation.
Magnetic North - This is the direction the magnetic compass
points. The difference between true and magnetic north is called variation. Variation is different depending on where you are on the planet. You add or subtract variation to true course to get magnetic course. Another interesting tidbit is that slowly over time the magnetic variation changes so once in a great while the charts need to be updated.
Compass Rose - On the chart you will find a compass rose. The rose is aligned with magnetic north. This simplifies things somewhat as all you have to do to go somewhere is draw a line from point A to point B and transfer the magnetic heading using a set of parallel rulers. Then in its basic sense follow the compass. The difficulty is that currents will push you off the course line as will the set caused by the sideways drift of the boat. If you sailed a continuous magnetic course you would likely find yourself down current
or downwind of the destination
Compass deviation - The compass is not perfect. A "swung" compas has had its readings on each point balanced using tiny magnets in the compass) as best as possible and the residual error is printed on a deviation card. The deviation is added or subtracted from magnetic course to get magnetic heading.
In summary - Plot a magnetic course, add or subtract deviation and then "guess" (or use scientific method) to determine the drift and set. Using a circular rule
you can derive a course to steer that will allow for set and drift (which might cancel each other out BTW). Follow the planned magnetic course and update yourself with position fixes.
Fixes - A specific spot on the chart - usually where your boat is. Derived from taking bearings, celestial navigation
Thats a very basic look at compass navigation.
Navigating by landmarks - for coastal cruising navigating by landmarks is very common.
Bearing - A magnetic direction to a know location.
Basically a shore base landmark is identified and a compass bearing is derived. The simply way to get the bearing is point the boat at the object and read the compass heading. he more elegant solution is to get a hand bearing compass and shoot the bearing by looking through the glass.
With one line you can plot the line on a chart (using parellel rulers) and you know in one dimension where you are on the chart. i.e - On that line somewhere.
Pick a second object not directinally too close to the first and shoot a bearing. When you put the second line on the chart you can identify your exact location where the lines cross.
When starting with landmark navigation I always advose people to start "really big" and then get smaller. What I mean by this is rather than trying to find a pier on the shore, or a nav buoy, look for the biggest thing on shore you can find - i.e. a mountain, a headland with a distinct shape and so forth. Coastal charts will have shore based objects and usually montains depicted.
Shoot a bearing to the big object - estimate the line on the chart and then start looking for smaller items on the shore. If you are far away shooting big objects maybe be all you need.
Ded Reckoning - Navigating, usually out of sight of land by deducing a course from current
position. i.e. I know I am due West of the coast and my intended harbor. I deduce that I can sail 090 and hit the coast. But when I get there I could have been drifted north or south and don't know which way to turn. A technique is to aim off to the north or south such that you beat any set and drift. Then when reaching the coast you know which way to turn with greater certainty and you can start shooting bearings.
Cruising up or down a coast I might be ded reckoning and decide I need to sail generally north with a land mass to my west. I shoot a mountain on shore periodically to mark my progress (or not) up the coast. If I am headed for a harbor I could remain offshore
until the bearing to the mountain overlays the harbor, which I may not yet be able to see. I can turn in with confidence knowing that as I get closer I can start to identify small objects (the headlands for example) as I approach.
I am sure there are lots of good book recommendations from our membership
- I don't have any boating
specific books as I learned my navigating as a pilot.
and navigation are fascinating subjects to study. Good luck!