Cody, this is a nice day-hop, and there is nothing to worry about, so don't let the nay-sayers discourage you.
You won't need to learn any navigation
for a trip like this: what you will be doing is piloting
, since you'll have the coast in sight your entire trip, and will be using landmarks to guide your progress. All you'll need is a paper chart (West Marine will print one out for you while you wait for $20+ change) a hand-bearing compass
, about $40, and a parallel ruler at the chandlery
An inexpensive hand-bearing compass
is small wet compass stuck on top of a joystick that you hold in your hand (there are "hockey puck"-style h-b compasses that are more expensive and really easy to use): you look across the top of it at some object in the distance, and can determine what your bearing
(the straight-line direction) is to that object: whether its bearing is 34° or 60°, for example. As your boat moves along the coast, the bearing to that object will change.
By identifying prominent objects on the chart, either on shore (storage tanks
, towers, prominent buildings) or at/in the wet stuff (channel mouths, piers, drilling platforms, sea walls, buoys, etc.) and taking bearings on two such objects, say one you haven't arrived at yet and one you passed 15 minutes ago, you can determine your position by drawing pencil lines on your chart of the reciprocals (opposites) of those bearings that extend out into the "water" on the chart. Where the lines cross on your chart is just about where you are at that moment.
The compass rose (the medallion printed on the chart in at least one place that looks like a 360° compass oriented counter-clockwise a bit to give you magnetic degrees) is used to determine the angle of the ruler. If you take a bearing to an object on shore and get a reading of 30°, you lay the ruler across the center of the compass rose so that it aligns with a 30°/210° course (30° on one side of the rose is the exact reciprocal of 210°, which is on the other side of the rose). Then simply walk or roll the ruler down the chart, without letting it slip on the paper, until the edge touches the object on the chart that you "shot" with the hand-bearing compass, and draw a pencil line from that object that extends out into the water
Here are some simple charting tools from West Marine.
. The rolling ruler does the same job as the parallel ruler, except that it has little wheels that let you slide the ruler over the surface of the chart. You'll quickly learn how not to let it slip.
Here is the West Marine page that lists their print-on-demand charts
. I believe the one you want is #18754, Newport Bay, but you should confirm it covers your intended sailing grounds.
A cruising guide gives great information about procedures, anchoring
, telephone numbers to the Harbor Patrol, check-in procedures, local shopping
, etc. from someone who has been there before, and is worth its weight in gold. Like Charlie, I like Brian Fagan's The Cruising Guide to Central and Southern California
. West should have it: if not, Amazon will have it.
Here is a selection of hand-bearing compasses from West Marine.
Here's an article by Don Casey explaining the rudiments of taking bearings to shore.
these simple tools and the cruising guide just burned a $100 bill, but West Marine's cheapest handheld GPS is $150, and you don't build any skills to speak of using it. (Still get the cruising guide, no matter what. Think of it as a AAA Travel Guide for boaters).
Of course, piloting on paper requires that someone else is at the helm
keeping course while you're playing Lord High Admiral looking through your peep-sight and doodling on the chart down below (don't risk having the chart blow out of your hand and go by the boards while you're trying to use it in the cockpit
. You can take it into the cockpit
, but when you're actually determining the bearing, you don't have enough hands for everything.
I'm less concerned about you finding your way than I am about you successfully deploying and setting the anchor or picking up a mooring: did get any practice in your classes
, or will you be going into this blind for the first time? It can be tricky, and can strain relationships when trying to communicate from the bow to the cockpit of the boat giving directions about steering
, speed, shifting out of gear
, etc, esp. if you have to pick up a mooring. I mean really, really strain relationships, like "she's calling her mother to come and pick her up" kind of strain. Anchoring
is much, much simpler, esp. in a sheltered harbor.
Fair Winds and Good Luck,