Boat Navigation at Sea.
A beginner's guide.

Navigation at sea, what you should know about tides, GPS, charts, coastal and celestial navigation and passage planning.

The skill of Boat Navigation is as much an art and a craft, as it is a science.

There are few more exhilarating experiences than that of arriving at a new destination at the end of a passage at sea.

The cry of "Land Ho" is still a glorious whoop, even today when modern electronic navigation aids remove most of the uncertainty from determining your position.

However, it is the very accuracy of positioning and its ease of use that tends to encourage too much reliance on it alone.

is an aid to navigation and safety afloat which, like the echo sounder it would be foolish for the modern boater to ignore.

But it is important that it should be regarded as an aid, and used in consort with more traditional methods as well as an understanding of the watery environment.

As well as the safety aspect of understanding how , and such like will affect your boats progress.Learn NavigationBoat Books on-line

The more you know, the greater will be the enjoyment and satisfaction you will gain from being afloat.

The more you learn about the rare art of finding your way at sea the more skillful you will become and the more enjoyable and enriching will be your voyaging.

And any voyage will be more enjoyable if it has been planned in advance and the planning process itself should be fun.

, apart from being a requirement under the COLREGS, will allow you to collate and assess the all aspects of the trip.

So, before you set off;

"There is nothing so distressing as running ashore.

Unless there is also doubt as to which continent the shore belongs."

  • Enter and check all your waypoints.
  • Evaluate how the and currents will affect all stages of the journey.

  • Make sure you have all relevant paper and harbour plans including any ports which might have to be used in an emergency.

  • Check your and make note of the relevant variations and deviations.

  • Make a list of all geographic and hydrographical features, lighthouses

  • Check the and plan accordingly.

When you do leave port, keep a written record of all stages of the trip in your boat navigation log book, this is also a requirement under the COLREGS.

It is also a very prudent back up to mark your progress on that paper chart.

I know that it is rare for the latest marine units to go wrong and they are now so cheap that many folk, like me have a spare hand-held tucked away, with spare batteries, in a waterproof container.

However, why take the risk of relying solely on electronics.

Pleasure boating like any pursuit becomes more pleasurable as your knowledge increases.

With boating this means not only understanding the environment but having a respect for it, in all its moods.

With boat navigation the more you know the safer you will feel and more your pleasure will be enhanced.

Back to
Top of Boat Navigationarrow



Your Comments

Your comments, suggestions and advice are always welcome.
You can also include photographs and /or videos.
comments powered by Disqus

Latest Updates

Aug 29, 2014

Make an Alaia or a Paipo.

After going to a local surf shop in Leucadia, CA, Christine discovered the paipo and became inspired to find a different experience in the water.

With an artistic background, making her own boards was inevitable.

She dove right in and is now making and riding her own paipos as well as various other surf craft.

Aug 27, 2014

R2AK - Are you ready?

Unsupported boat race from the lower 48 to Alaska.

Sail, Row, Paddle.

Are you ready?

Learn more at

Video by Zach Carver and Big Face Films…

Aug 27, 2014

Quick Canoe

This is the video of the Polish Quick Canoe build. It is the best one yet.

Aug 27, 2014

8ft Classic ‘Squadron’ Clinker Dinghy

I thought you would like to see some pic's of my 8ft Classic ‘Squadron’ Clinker Dinghy that I have just recently completed. I have had numerous traditional

Continue reading "8ft Classic ‘Squadron’ Clinker Dinghy"

Aug 26, 2014

This Week's Wooden Boat Events

26th to 30th August 2014

Mahon, X Copa del Rey de Barcos de Epoca Club Marítimo Mahon and Real Club Nautico , Barcelona , Spain

28th to 31st August 2014

La Belle plaisance sur l’Erdre Nort-sur-Erdre to Nantes , France

28th to 31st August 2014

Kongelig Classic Aabemraa - Sønderborg - Flensburg , Denmark

28th to 31st August 2014

Camden Windjammer Festival Camden , ME , USA

29th to 31st August 2014

Newport, Museum of Yachting Classic Yacht Regatta Newport , RI , USA30th August

Hyundai Cup Nynäshamn , Sweden

Click here for links and further details arrow

Aug 26, 2014

Bottom Protection

Does anyone have any suggestions for a good tough bottom coat for a wooden hull that gets moved on and off the trailer several times a month. I am loosing

Continue reading "Bottom Protection"

Aug 26, 2014

Non-profit helps New York kids build boats

Aug 25, 2014


Frolic is now floating in the San Juan Islands and is needing TLC. She is a Classic Island Clipper built by Fellows and Stewart. She is 44 feet with

Continue reading "Frolic"

Aug 25, 2014

Menehune's gaff rig

Hey everyone...does anyone have any tips on sail shape on a gaff rig? I took Menehune out this past weekend in about 10-15 knots she handled well but

Continue reading "Menehune's gaff rig"



friends connect
DIY Wood Boat

feedbutnerSubscribe in a reader

"Setting the course, keeping the dead reckoning up to date, and fixing the position by observations of the celestial bodies, call for nothing more than simple arithmetic, a little geometry, and some dexterity in handling a sextant."
(Eric Hiscock)