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Old 24-07-2021, 12:45   #1
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Newbie Navigation

What do I need for navigation? Paper maps, a compass, a GPS? I am not sure what to even search for in the forum as I am new to this, just sold the RV now looking for the SV. I just ordered books from the ASA for 101, 103 & 104. Doing sailing lessons but not until Sept.
Would like to know what to plan for coming up incase I need to make some kind of major purchase in the navigation department.
Will be in Florida most likely Gulf Coast and on Lake Michigan for at least one whole summer. I think we would be wise to keep it in Michigan for the first year to learn as much as possible and to be able to be on it frequently. Have thought about sailing it to Florida and back each year BUT not sure how realistic that would be. Anyway, if someone could point in a good direction that would be great. I googled some BUT there is an overload of info and do not know enough to be able to sort it out.
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Old 24-07-2021, 14:18   #2
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Re: Newbie Navigation

Welcome.

Most classes these days focus on navigation using GPS. I believe learning to navigate visually would help you better learn & use GPS navigation and understand its limitations.

If you don’t mind some boring reading I can recommend
https://www.amazon.com/Piloting-Dead.../dp/1557506833

It will give you some understanding before you go into class. This is kind of a gifted beginner’s book so if you don’t have any history of using maps to figure out where you are it may be too much.

The most recent edition appears to be the 4th from 1999 but the fundamentals don’t change so ….
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Old 24-07-2021, 14:27   #3
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Re: Newbie Navigation

Your ASA courses, particularly when you get to 103, will give you a solid feel for what you need for navigation — instructors also share what they personally use and value.

Paper charts, maps books, cruising guides are always a good start to give you a view to the routes you will be sailing and the information on wind angles to plan ahead.

Without having purchased your sailboat, you won’t have a good understanding yet of what your navigation electronics on the SV will provide you, but most likely you will be set with a compass and some form of GPS geo location.

Most sailors now load apps onto their smartphones to complement these capabilities — a good start would be Garmin’s Navionics or similar which provides both manual and automatic routes in addition to basics like depth, distances, mapping with both terrain and nautical aids (buoys, channel markers, rocks, …).

Finally, weather information (wind, tide, swell, …) through an app like PredictWind or similar help as a beginner to understand when to untie the lines.

Congrats on selling the RV, next your SV, and soon you’ll be sailing!
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Old 24-07-2021, 14:39   #4
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Re: Newbie Navigation

Going between Florida and Michigan seems a bit... involved.

I assume ASA has a text for their coastal navigation class (I have the US Sailing equivalent) which would help fill out your collection. Chapman Piloting or the Annapolis book (neither is specific to navigation) might be good additions to your shelf at some point, or you can download Bowditch if you want a complete overload. For something in between that's specific to navigation, David Burch has a book that's probably pretty good.

For charts I'd point you here: https://nauticalcharts.noaa.gov/ You will want to grab a copy of "Chart no. 1", which isn't really a chart, as well as the relevant Coast Pilot. You can also download both raster (RNC) charts and ENC charts for use with software such as OpenCPN, or find info about ordering paper versions.

While paper charts are eventually going away, I'd suggest at least getting some for your local area. It will give you an overview as well as something to practice with. I'd suggest a pair of dividers (basic West Marine brand should be fine) and a pair of triangles* to use with them.

For a hand compass I like the Plastimo Iris 50. Some like the Vion Mini 2000, but it lacks the lubber line of the Plastimo. This is a tool useful whether navigating with electronics or paper. You'll probably eventually want a decent pair of binoculars ($), possibly stabilized ($$).

Electronics is a whole 'nother kettle of fish. You could use a simple tablet, buy a fancy B&G suite, or build your own custom solution out of OpenCPN and a Raspberry Pi or other miniature computer. Also in the electronics category are aids such as radar and AIS. These, and any chart plotter hardware, are where decent chunks of money might go.

I'd consider the availability of GPS to be of similar impact to the invention of the magnetic compass; now that it's here it'd be foolish to not take advantage. You can use it with paper or electronic charts, but the latter is simpler.

* Others may prefer parallel rules, Breton plotters, or the rolly ones; I personally think triangles are faster and easier.
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Old 24-07-2021, 14:50   #5
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Re: Newbie Navigation

Beneteau2011 is correct that many people use smartphones for navigation, and what many of them don't learn about is piloting--what Adelie was addressing with his book suggestion, and I would heartily second. To me, the greatest problem is that phone format is too small to be able to show hazards well, and if you forget to really zoom in, you can miss objects and ground hard on them.

When Jim was teaching me, we used charts, and dividers, and an easily erased pencil, and took compass bearings (you want some kind of hand bearing compass to tell exactly heading something is from you), and from that, you can do triangulation off points of land, and determine your chart position that way. Once you're competent at this, loss of electronic navigation due to battery failure of lightning strike is less scary. Later, if you're interested, you can teach yourself celestial navigation.

When you have a paper chart spread out on your table, you can spot all the hazards. One friend of ours used to mark every one that he could hit if inattentive, with a circle in red pencil. We never did that, but I have depth-colored chart copies, to be able to see where the 15 ft. depths ran at a glance. The charts show nautical miles along the sides, and you can use the dividers to point off distances. Very accurate, and kind of fun to watch your fixes marching across the chart to your destination.

Ann, very long term cruiser.
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Old 24-07-2021, 14:52   #6
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Re: Newbie Navigation

ASA has a navigation class, it is ASA 105 Coastal Navigation. It is all traditional coastal piloting (no electronics). The upside to learning traditional navigation is that you will understand the underlying navigation concepts for using electronics and will have the ability to get by without electronics should they fail.

ASA 105 has no prerequisites so you could start taking it any time.

The classes you have signed up for, like 103/104, include some very basic navigation topics too, like nautical chart reading and DR navigation (deduced reconing...basically just speed/time/distance).
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Old 24-07-2021, 15:55   #7
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Re: Newbie Navigation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adelie View Post
Welcome.

Most classes these days focus on navigation using GPS. I believe learning to navigate visually would help you better learn & use GPS navigation and understand its limitations.

If you don’t mind some boring reading I can recommend
https://www.amazon.com/Piloting-Dead.../dp/1557506833

It will give you some understanding before you go into class. This is kind of a gifted beginner’s book so if you don’t have any history of using maps to figure out where you are it may be too much.

The most recent edition appears to be the 4th from 1999 but the fundamentals don’t change so ….
Thanks I appreciate the info. Yes I have map reading experience via the military.
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Old 24-07-2021, 18:16   #8
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Re: Newbie Navigation

Fishigan:

Don't make heavy weather of something so simple :-)!

If you can read a map, you can read a chart. In Canada all the symbols used on all charts are given in Chart#1. which is really just a compendium of all the symbols rather than a chart as such. You Americans have something similar. You can get it where you get your paper charts.

Symbols used for Ordinance Survey Maps (which is what we Canadians call "military maps") and for Nautical Charts are of necessity different. All you have to do is learn some more symbols.

If you can tell up from down, left from right and read a compass rose you've got it beat. In the military - or even in boy scouts - you should have learned the "Time, Distance, Speed" equation. In the military - or even in boy scouts - you should have learned to "take a bearing"

So that's it - you are now all set to go out and practise :-)

Just wait for your ASA course, but it might help you to know that, during these 70-odd years gone, I have eschewed electronic nav devises. Not that we had them for small boats when I was young. I don't need them where I do my sailing. The paper charts, a sharp pencil, one 45-45-90 draftsman's triangle and a 30-60-90 one is all I need. I DO have binoculars with a compass in one reticle pretending to be a bearing compass, but why bother? In a boat that goes 8 miles an hour, just swing 'er head and read the steering compass when you are on the mark.

All the best :-)

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Old 24-07-2021, 19:22   #9
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Newbie Navigation

Went through Woods Hole today. Again. Not in the plan but the stopover that was planned was full of boats with no clue and nowhere secure for us to settle in. Snap decision to pass through and continue to Edgartown.
Have the gps. Chart plotter. iPhone app. iPad. Used electronics to check current through the hole. I have Eldridges for that but went electronic today. Before entering got out the paper chart so I could see a bigger picture better.
Whatever works well for you is appropriate.
I tend to use multiple sources of data and integrate them. Which one is best is very moment to moment and very situational.

I guess what I am saying is learn a way of navigating then keep on learning.
Charts are maps. Read one, read them all.
Yes there are subtleties. But most of the time any one system will get you through.
And your good seamanship will get you through the rest of the time.
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Old 24-07-2021, 21:25   #10
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Re: Newbie Navigation

Coast Guard auxiliary used to teach a paper chart nav classes, but it appears modern equivalent is called "Weekend navigator" and combines piloting with gps, might even be one near you.
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Old 24-07-2021, 22:03   #11
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Re: Newbie Navigation

For the open sea ... GNSS. And as a backup: five or six more GNSS units. You probably already have more than one. They're ubiquitous and cheap ... and [relatively] reliable, easy to use and precise. What's not to love?


Personally, I would recommend a totally independent method as a cross-check - such as celestial - but I might be a bit biased. I'd be glad to help you if you want to learn, though.



Now ... piloting (fixing one's position close to shore, in shallow waters, near obstacles, etc.) is a whole different ball game.
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Old 25-07-2021, 03:05   #12
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Re: Newbie Navigation

An advanced online course on marine navigation, that enables you to set a course, and sail to your destination, by using only nautical charts, a compass and your common sense. This course greatly extends on the ASA and RYA courses.
Free ➥ https://www.sailingissues.com/navcourse0.html
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Old 27-07-2021, 17:02   #13
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Re: Newbie Navigation

Thank you everyone for your suggestions and guidance. I really appreciate it.
Fred
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Old 27-07-2021, 18:58   #14
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Re: Newbie Navigation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fishigan View Post
What do I need for navigation? Paper maps, a compass, a GPS? I am not sure what to even search for in the forum as I am new to this, just sold the RV now looking for the SV. I just ordered books from the ASA for 101, 103 & 104. Doing sailing lessons but not until Sept.
Would like to know what to plan for coming up incase I need to make some kind of major purchase in the navigation department.
Will be in Florida most likely Gulf Coast and on Lake Michigan for at least one whole summer. I think we would be wise to keep it in Michigan for the first year to learn as much as possible and to be able to be on it frequently. Have thought about sailing it to Florida and back each year BUT not sure how realistic that would be. Anyway, if someone could point in a good direction that would be great. I googled some BUT there is an overload of info and do not know enough to be able to sort it out.
I took the ASA navigation course, ASA 105, and based off my experiences in that class and being a newbie, I'd start with an electronic chartplotter of any sort.

Chartplotters don't eliminate the need to properly plan, and paper/iPad charts are good for that (as well as backup). However, if you're a newbie and you get in a jam, you won't be efficient enough to dead reckon, take fixes and handle the boat in a timely manner.

If you plan on learning navigation with paper charts you'll need dividers and either parallels and/or a chart protractor.

As for other equipment, your boat should have a compass and probably a depth finder but a hand bearing compass or binocs with that feature are good to have as well.
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