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Old 08-07-2018, 21:05   #1
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Learning to navigate

I am new to sailing, I am learning to sail now on an old venture 24, and rebuilding bulkheads on my larger boat, hopefully to take south and liveaboard in a couple of years. I am hoping to be able to start spending some time sailing on lake Michigan shortly, I have plenty of boat handling experience, but know very little about navigation. I was hoping someone here could tell me the best way to learn on my own, I do not want to spend the money on any ASA courses now, and am not in a real hurry, I am just wondering if anyone has taken on line courses , and if so were they worth it, or would I be ok just reading books and charts and practicing ? I do not do well in classroom situations usually, and usually learn faster and better by just reading and doing, so i guess i am really looking for recommendations on good books, or a good online course.
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Old 08-07-2018, 23:15   #2
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Re: Learning to navigate

I would recommend Bowditch, free download from the NATIONAL GEOSPATIAL-INTELLIGENCE AGENCY at or hit up eBay or other used book sources for hard-copy books from prior years. I don't think they sell a hard-copy set anymore. Good self study resource about navigation from swinging the compass right on through to pretty much whatever you might wish to know how to do along those lines.
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Old 08-07-2018, 23:38   #3
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Re: Learning to navigate

Great Lakes are a great place to learn basics. There are no tides or currents. You can easily figure the approximate angles and triangulation of your position from a chart and bearing compass. Once you are a bit handy at this, you really should spend a little class time to learn the finer points and how to apply this for off shore passage where the water is moving. We operate with paper charts and two GPS systems. One is a conventional chart plotter. The other is an IPAD with Navionics installed. Modern GPS plotters are ridiculously simple and accurate but you need at least two so you have a backup. We also have a spare in a box and two other devices with GPS to give us lat-long in a pinch. This in turn can be used to place us on the paper charts.
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Old 08-07-2018, 23:43   #4
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Re: Learning to navigate

This one is quite good:

Advanced navigation courses - sailing schools Greece and the Greek islands
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Old 09-07-2018, 02:43   #5
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Re: Learning to navigate

Originally Posted by StuM View Post
Advanced navigation courses - sailing schools Greece and the Greek islands
Gord May
"If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time/$ to fix it?"

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Old 09-07-2018, 04:42   #6
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Re: Learning to navigate

Find a book such as Chapman's Piloting, which is all about moving small craft around coastal waters. For more in-depth treatment, Dutton's or Bowditch have piloting and navigation sections, as well as lots of interesting stuff on cartography, long-distance sailing, various methods of navigating, etc., that you can enjoy after you've understood the more immediate parts.
I recommend the 2-volume 1981 version of Bowditch, since the second volume is crammed full of useful tables, some of which are left out of other editions.
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Old 09-07-2018, 04:46   #7
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Re: Learning to navigate

Learning to navigate is more than operating a chart plotter. Time, speed, distance, understanding the compass, and difference between. True north and magnetic north, set and drift, etc are what you need to learn. Look for either a US Coastguard auxiliary, or a US Power Squadron class. Inexpensive, taught by volunteers that are interested in having you learn, and practice on paper charts. Learn the basics, because someday the electronics will fail. It is rewarding the first time you plot a course over a distance, and hit your destination spot on.
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Old 09-07-2018, 04:56   #8
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Re: Learning to navigate

Check your local Coast Guard Auxiliary if you have one. They offer a really good coastal navigation course. It's either free, or very reasonably priced.

Here's a link to a description of the topics covered...

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Old 09-07-2018, 15:19   #9
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Re: Learning to navigate had a great self study course
about 130.00US including a basic set of tools
and all sorts of practice charts.
However their website while still on-line
states that the store is closed
Definitely worth a call to them.
Donít be daunted,
If you got through HS Geometry
youíll be fine
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