Coastal Navigation



Our Coastal Navigation course is designed to acquaint you with all the tools, publications and skills required for successful coastal navigation. It also provides you with all the academic and theoretical knowledge you need to develop great navigation skills in the Coastal Passagemaking course. Coastal navigation skills are the underpinning of all safe and efficient distance cruising, whether you’re harbor hopping in the San Juans or just occasionally out of sight of land due to fog. You will learn not only how to find your way and how to identify and avoid hazards along your route, but also how to minimize the distance you need to travel and maximize your progress toward your destination. In addition, many of the concepts and skills taught in this class are directly transferable to Celestial Navigation as well.

Successful completion prepares you to:

  • Navigate your way along the coast using charts, compass and your own skills.
  • If your GPS stops working, you’ll be able to find your way to safe harbor.
  • Successful completion prepares you for Coastal Passagemaking as well as Offshore Passagemaking.

Prerequisite: Navigation and Piloting


    • Deduced reckoning

      Known as Ded or Dead Reckoning, this is the ‘shorthand’ for navigators.

    • Calculating an estimated position

      When life isn’t perfect and you can’t get a three bearing fix.

    • Calculating set and drift

      Handling current set and drift is the core of what advanced coastal navigation is about.

    • Interpreting tide and current charts

      Know the speed and direction of current and the height of the tide at any given time, any given location.

    • Establishing a running fix

      The coastal cruising sailor’s life saver.

  • Taking bearings and ranges

    The basics – good bearings make for good fixes.

  • Radar, GPS, and other electronic aids to navigation

    They make life easier but they require a certain amount of training to use properly.

  • Using a deck log

    Proper Navigation begins and ends with good records. You can’t tell where to go unless you remember where you’ve been!

  • Practical use of navigational publications

    A wealth of information exists if you know where and how to look.

  • US Sailing plotting conventions

    Learn how to manage charting and logs on a small yacht with conventions that account for small nav tables and charts on laps in the cockpit!