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Old 14-10-2012, 20:43   #1
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Nav course?

I've been working my way thru the post "Paper charts are Unnecessary"
Paper Charts Now Unnecessary

for various reasons I disagree with this approach...but that's a topic for a different thread.

I've been sailing in mostly "familiar water" and up until recently mostly by paper.
years ago I added a hand held GPS aboard
2 years ago i added a laptop and Nav software.

Most of my sailing has been "dead reckoning" off the New York Coast, New Jersey and Connecticut Coasts. Hudson River, LIS, and some short forays into the Atlantic. And i'm mostly fine with what i have...
I run OPCn and a Garmin Handheld. No radar.
nothing fancy...
Except i'm thinking of venturing further from home.
Down East is the plan for next summer.

Last year while approaching Sandy Hook, in a storm the visibility dropped and the GPS signal called it quits. The Depth gauge told me i misgauged the tide and was definitely in the wrong place.

another time the fog settled in nd the last known position + bearing and speed helped us limp along.

I realize that without gps or sighting: I would really have only a vague idea where i am and want to correct this deficiency.

So... I'm looking for advice on books, a local course or just general info on traditional Nav methods, when the weather goes to hell.

I think i have a fundamental understanding, would just like to take a course and push it all to the next level.

thanks all.
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Old 14-10-2012, 20:52   #2
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Re: Nav course?

The Coast Guard Auxiliary offers an excellent navigation course. It is NOT easy! I highly recommend that you consider taking it. Now I am not referring to an elementary boating course, it is offered in two parts if I remember, takes about 15 weeks.

You will know how to navigate if you pass this course.

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Old 14-10-2012, 21:09   #3
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Re: Nav course?

Quote:
Originally Posted by smaarch View Post
I realize that without gps or sighting: I would really have only a vague idea where i am and want to correct this deficiency.

So... I'm looking for advice on books, a local course or just general info on traditional Nav methods, when the weather goes to hell.

I think i have a fundamental understanding, would just like to take a course and push it all to the next level.
I definitely applaud your initiative. But it think this comes to how you learn and, more importantly, how much you practice.

If you do well with books, then Chapmans and Bowditch along with US Chart No 1 will get you there. Two of the three are free.

If you do better with classes Power Squadron and, as mentioned before, the USCG auxiliary are good.

If distance learning is good for you then Starpath has some very good classes. I haven't taken their navigation class; I suspect its as good as their others though.
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Old 14-10-2012, 21:23   #4
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Re: Nav course?

It is absolutely excellent that you plan to take a course. Unfortunately I took my nav training in the early 80's so am not up to date on latest course offerings. It is however a lifelong learning and a lot of fun, especially when weather is added.

Quote:
Originally Posted by smaarch View Post
Most of my sailing has been "dead reckoning" off the New York Coast, New Jersey and Connecticut Coasts. Hudson River, LIS, and some short forays into the Atlantic. And i'm mostly fine with what i have...
There is an endless debate about the term "dead reckoning" vs. "Ded Reckoning"

I am a devout Ded Reckoning believer - Ded Reckoning is short for Deduced Reckoning and it involves "Deducing" where you are from previous information.

An example - You are flying to a town with nothing but a map and a compass. The town is along a river that is perpendicular to your flight path.

You could fly straight towards the town. Due to wind/compass or other error you arrive at the river and there is no town. Which way do you turn? No way to know.

If you angle off to the left, you expect to reach the river and the town is to your right. You hit the river and deduce the town is a right turn.

Anyway - rant over...


Quote:
Originally Posted by smaarch View Post
another time the fog settled in nd the last known position + bearing and speed helped us limp along.

I realize that without gps or sighting: I would really have only a vague idea where i am and want to correct this deficiency.
When the weather closes down and you don't have electronic nav there really is no method to determine a fix without radar or some way to "see" through the fog.

However you are correct ded reckoning can help you limp along and more importantly keep you safe.

Example - If you have been plotting heading, course, drift and speed you will have an idea what the boat will do in the coming time frame as long as conditions remain the same.

Using the same basic technique above with the river, you plot a course to your destination.

Another advantage in boating is that you may be able to use chart data to follow a bottom contour (assuming the depth gauge isn't crapandangled) or recognize a contour to more accurately obtain a fix in the fog.

In this regard you may be able to use a contour exactly like the river in the example above if the contour is clear and you are sure of depth.

So - Start with known fix - identify harbor or destination - identify contour that denotes "shore ahead soon" - plot "angle off" course to harbor entrance - plan ETA based on previous observed plots - enter fog - sail carefully - find contour - head left or right depending on angle off. Sail the contour.

(Big caveat - If this is a lee shore or dangerous shore (rocks and waves) in the fog then a better course is probably stay away - nothing worse than being close to shore and blind)

Then the end of the journey. Just like the pilot can't land without visual identification of a runway - depending on fog thickness you may have to anchor out along the contour until you get visibility.

I shouldn't underestimate this type of navigation - it is probably the hardest of all to achieve successfully.

Anyway - good luck with the nav courses! I truly hope you find a great one.
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Old 14-10-2012, 22:04   #5
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Re: Nav course?

Consider getting your captain's license, which is really the USCG's "master 100 ton" ticket. There's also an OUPV which is 95% of the master's license, but you're restricted to uninspected vessels. It might seem like overkill, but most of the really good navigation I learned was in that class and you're with instructors who are there to help you.

The class will cost about a grand, maybe another few hundred for the paperwork. You need 360 days of sea time for your oupv, more for master. Four hours on the water in any day counts the entire day, so an afternoon sail is one day. You need 360 lifetime days, and I think 90 within the last three years. Something like that.
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Old 14-10-2012, 22:23   #6
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Re: Nav course?

great responses. thanks.
as far as learning goes, well.... it all works.
chapman's is on the bookshelf and i'll pull it down and have a look.

Coast Guard Aux course sounds great and i'll look into it.
heck what else do i have to do this winter except fix boat stuff.

When the weather closes down.
been there a few times and this is my biggest fear about sailing here on the east coast and i've managed i suppose by being aware of the situation and not venturing into somewhere i was unsure of. part awareness and part luck.

Heck i just took the boat up the hudson for winter. anchored last night and for some reason everytime i looked for a spot to drop the hook the depth zeroed out.
no i don't rely on electronics.
always at the most critical moment.

my "dead reckoning" is shorthand for what i can see. yes i understand your definition. The first step for me is to consistently get in the habit of plotting position on paper. I imagine with this little effort of plotting lon lat and time, the rest can be derived.

Thanks again for the responses and look forward to more.
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Old 14-10-2012, 22:24   #7
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Re: Nav course?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rebel heart View Post
Consider getting your captain's license, which is really the USCG's "master 100 ton" ticket. There's also an OUPV which is 95% of the master's license, but you're restricted to uninspected vessels. It might seem like overkill, but most of the really good navigation I learned was in that class and you're with instructors who are there to help you.

The class will cost about a grand, maybe another few hundred for the paperwork. You need 360 days of sea time for your oupv, more for master. Four hours on the water in any day counts the entire day, so an afternoon sail is one day. You need 360 lifetime days, and I think 90 within the last three years. Something like that.
wow great advice. thanks
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Old 14-10-2012, 22:31   #8
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Re: Nav course?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ex-Calif View Post

Example - If you have been plotting heading, course, drift and speed you will have an idea what the boat will do in the coming time frame as long as conditions remain the same.
can you explain how you plot "drift"
something about bearing and COG?
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Old 15-10-2012, 08:09   #9
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Re: Nav course?

Quote:
Originally Posted by smaarch View Post
can you explain how you plot "drift"
something about bearing and COG?
In "dead reckoning" one begins at a known location and uses one's courses, speeds, and time on each course to estimate one's position at any given time (an EP), usually at each course change. The next time one gets a "Fix", either via a round of stars, noon lat, GPS or what have you, one usually discovers that one's actual position varies, more or less, from one's EP at the time of one's Fix. From the difference of the two, one can estimate the "Set", or direction of the current, and/or leeway of the yacht, and the "Drift", or the speed of the "Set". With experience one learns the extent to which ones yacht will make leeway on various points of sail and to take that into account in one's dead reckoning, hence one's EP's become, somewhat, more accurate, differences with one's Fix then becoming more a function of current Set and Drift.

One can get a sense of one's set and drift by comparing ones heading (the direction one's yacht is pointing) with one's Course over the Ground (COG) which only rarely matches ones heading. That is why, for example, when one heads to Bimini from Florida, across the Gulf Stream, one might steer at 97 regardless of the fact that Bimini bears 90 at the commencement of ones trip. At the start of one's trip one will be below the "Rhumb"--or bearing--line. As one progresses into the Stream and its speed increases, one will be "Set" north of the Rhumb--bearing--line and as one approches Bimini its speed decreases (somewhat) and one will be steering "down" to Bimini. One's track will inscribe a "Lazy S" over the length of the Rhumb Line (as opposed to a l-o-n-g northly arc typically enscribed by those sailing to match their yacht's heading with their GPS's bearing to their "Waypoint".

FWIW...
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Old 15-10-2012, 09:26   #10
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Re: Nav course?

Quote:
Originally Posted by smaarch View Post
I've been working my way thru the post "Paper charts are Unnecessary"
Paper Charts Now Unnecessary

for various reasons I disagree with this approach...but that's a topic for a different thread.

I've been sailing in mostly "familiar water" and up until recently mostly by paper.
years ago I added a hand held GPS aboard
2 years ago i added a laptop and Nav software.

Most of my sailing has been "dead reckoning" off the New York Coast, New Jersey and Connecticut Coasts. Hudson River, LIS, and some short forays into the Atlantic. And i'm mostly fine with what i have...
I run OPCn and a Garmin Handheld. No radar.
nothing fancy...
Except i'm thinking of venturing further from home.
Down East is the plan for next summer.

Last year while approaching Sandy Hook, in a storm the visibility dropped and the GPS signal called it quits. The Depth gauge told me i misgauged the tide and was definitely in the wrong place.

another time the fog settled in nd the last known position + bearing and speed helped us limp along.

I realize that without gps or sighting: I would really have only a vague idea where i am and want to correct this deficiency.

So... I'm looking for advice on books, a local course or just general info on traditional Nav methods, when the weather goes to hell.

I think i have a fundamental understanding, would just like to take a course and push it all to the next level.

thanks all.
My wife and I are currently attending American Sailing Association "ASA105 Coastal Navigation". I think the course is excellent but that is also considering that we have an excellent instructor. He is teaching the course 3-hours each Tuesday for 6-weeks. For an example, the cost at Northern Breezes Sailing School is $199 including Navigation Textbook and a practice chart. No prerequisites required.
Coastal Navigation Course - ASA 105 Certification - American Sailing Association Standard

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Old 15-10-2012, 13:16   #11
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Re: Nav course?

Not being US based I have no idea what is available / useful for you, but good on ya for adding to your knowledge . Will also make your use of the gizmos (we all use them - because they do make life easier) more informative.

A Gizmo will tell you what it thinks you can do (and 99%+ of the time it will be right, excepting the Gizmo's idea of right might be different from yours!) - but it never says whether you should. or have to.

Navigating by paper and pencil (etc) is not rocket science (fortunately ), it's as much about getting comfortable with not knowing where you are 24/7 to the nearest inch..........and therefore you add in a greater degree of caution to your navigational choices. It also forces you to understand the same process that the Gizmo is doing which aids in your understanding of the information you are being provided with. Sometimes the Gizmo is better. Sometimes not - but IMO better that me decide that rather than anything else.

Traditional Navigation = the art of being lost, happily .
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Old 15-10-2012, 13:40   #12
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Re: Nav course?

Quote:
Originally Posted by svHyLyte View Post
In

One's track will inscribe a "Lazy S" over the length of the Rhumb Line (as opposed to a l-o-n-g northly arc typically enscribed by those sailing to match their yacht's heading with their GPS's bearing to their "Waypoint".
very interesting and makes perfect sense.
now that is knowing your boat
very cool.

admittedly: I'm of the second type, usually sailing COG based on whats out there now in regards to wind and tide, adjusting as i go. my thinking being the straight line i drew on the chart is the shortest distance between A and B.
What am i missing??
Even though i don't completely understand: I like your description. there seems to be a certain efficiency in it.
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Old 15-10-2012, 13:49   #13
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Re: Nav course?

In addition to the USCG AUX courses there are the Power Squadrons Piloting and Advanced Piloting courses. They are in depth treatments to piloting. There is also their Junior Navigation and Navigation courses that are Celestial Navigation courses.

The Power Squadron has a line of courses and seminars that end up granting Boat Operator Certificates that are currently good for insurance discounts and at some point in the future will get an ICC issued.

Regards, Ethan
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Old 15-10-2012, 14:04   #14
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Re: Nav course?

I think it all depends on why you had navigational difficulties. Was it do to a lack of knowlege, a lack of practice or something else? More course work won't do you any good if the problem isn't caused by a lack of theoretical knowedge.

As with most things, it's practice that makes perfect (or better). It could be that you don't need more course work, you just need to use non gps navigation skills more to make them more reliable.

I think it also depends on how your learn best, your budget, etc. Some people prefer lots of instruction, other people are more experiential in their learning style.
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Old 15-10-2012, 21:40   #15
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Re: Nav course?

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I think it all depends on why you had navigational difficulties. Was it do to a lack of knowlege, a lack of practice or something else? More course work won't do you any good if the problem isn't caused by a lack of theoretical knowedge.

As with most things, it's practice that makes perfect (or better). It could be that you don't need more course work, you just need to use non gps navigation skills more to make them more reliable.

I think it also depends on how your learn best, your budget, etc. Some people prefer lots of instruction, other people are more experiential in their learning style.
In defense of formal instruction, I learned a lot of neat tricks from big-boat quartermasters and navigators in my uscg classes. One thing in particular was some basic stuff to give less experienced watch standers when you (if you're the more experienced) crashed out and go to sleep. Rather than just saying "steer this course and wake me up if anything goes wrong" or trying to data dump everything about the route on them, there are some simple things you can give them (like danger bearings), a one minute overview, and you can sleep rather soundly.

Definitely need the practice, but even in a formal setting you're going to have charts and plotting tools out, doing the work just like you would on a boat except it isn't bumping around as much.
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