Category Archives: Navigation

Informed Boater on Board

Make passenger safety briefings part of your predeparture routine.

Contributed by John Malatak, chief, Program Operations, U.S. Coast Guard Boating Safety Division.

During an onboard emergency, precious seconds can be lost telling passengers where to locate and how to use vital safety equipment. If the boat operator (you) has been injured or otherwise put out of commission, the situation can suddenly turn life-threatening — too often with tragic results.

Two summers ago off the Massachusetts coast, the captain of a sailboat was knocked overboard by the boom while trying to get the sails down during a severe thunderstorm. His only passenger — a friend visiting from out of town — didn’t know how to radio for help. When he finally got through to the Coast Guard station, which was less than a half-mile away, he was unable to tell the dispatcher where he was. By the time the Coast Guard determined the vessel’s position and reached it with a patrol boat, it was too late. The captain had drowned because the only other person on board did not know what action to take in an emergency.

If you’re taking passengers along on your boat, make a full safety briefing part of your predeparture routine. It only takes a few minutes to show passengers where safety equipment is stored and how to use it, as well as the proper procedures for calling for emergency assistance. Consider what your passengers need to know in an emergency, especially if you are injured or fall overboard; then, customize the briefing to the unique characteristics of your boat.

Time spent briefing your passengers about onboard procedures and safety can make a huge difference in the event of a true emergency, when every second counts. Consider printing your safety orientation on a laminated card that can be posted in a prominent spot on your vessel. Also, label where the equipment is located on your boat. Read on to find out what your passengers need to know.

Safety Briefing Points:

1. Where life jackets are located and how to wear them properly. (The Coast Guard strongly suggests that all passengers wear their life jacket at all times while on board an open boat.) If your passengers are not wearing their life jacket, at a minimum have them put a life jacket on and size it properly. Then have them put a piece of masking tape on it and write their name on the tape. That way, in an emergency situation, they will have a prefitted life jacket that is easy to locate.  And remember, if you have children on board, they will need a proper-fitting, child-sized life jacket.

2. How to use the VHF marine radio and make a mayday distress call.

3. Where to find the EPIRB (emergency position-indicating radio beacon), survival equipment, visual distress signals, first-aid kit and fire extinguisher — and how to use them.

4. What to do if someone falls overboard and where to find the throw bags, life rings and life slings.

5. How to stop the boat safely and any unique features and/or idiosyncrasies of your boat, particularly if they might have an impact on passenger safety.

6. Where the anchor is located and how to stop and anchor the boat.

7. That they need to follow instructions exactly and get out of the way if something goes wrong and the boat operator has not asked for assistance. Some frightened people will stand rooted in place while chaos is going on around them. Knowing they should stay out of the way is important information.

8. How to use any installed global positioning system (GPS) equipment you may have on board.

Wrap up your briefing by answering any additional questions they may have. If any passengers are confused about boating safety procedures, the time for clarification is before you leave the dock.

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What is AIS?

Rule 9AIS is intended to help ships avoid collisions, as well as assisting port authorities to better control sea traffic. AIS transponders on board vessels include a GPS (Global Positioning System) receiver, which collects position and movement details. It includes also a VHF transmitter, which transmits periodically this information on two VHF channels (frequencies 161.975 MHz and 162.025 MHz – old VHF channels 87 & 88) and make this data available to the public domain. Other vessels or base stations are able to receive this information, process it using special software and display vessels locations on a chart plotter or on a computer.

If you like tracking ships or just like being nosey, you can use the Marine Traffic website to do just that. You can move around the map and zoom in on your area and see what commercial traffic is there, what direction it is moving and at what speed is it moving. If you live in an area where you often see commercial ships that you wonder about just look them up real time as they pass by. Use the following link to visit the Marine Traffice site.  http://www.marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?level0=100

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Introduction to Navigation Part 7 Estimating Time of Arrival

This will be the end of our  7 part series on “Introduction to Navigation.” We hope that we have given a brief overview of what you would be learning in the Nautical Know How Coastal Navigation Course. Trust me there is much, much more that we did not touch on.

Learning the “Art of Navigation” is not difficult but there are several steps that must be learned along the way. After learning about latitude and longitude, distance, direction and reading a nautical chart, you will start putting these processes together to solve real-time problems. On piece of practical information you might want to use is estimating time of arrival.

These basics are covered in the online Nautical Know How Basic Boating Safety Course at http://boatsafe.com/navigation .

Assume that you will leave your marina or boat ramp on a trip to a nearby restaurant for lunch.

  • You have made reservations at the restaurant for 1200.
  • The restaurant is 29 nautical miles from your marina.
  • You plan on a leisurely cruise at a speed of 12 kts.

What time must you leave your marina to arrive at the restaurant at your reservation time?

This is a simple Distance, Time, Speed question. The formulas to use for the calculations are made simple if you remember, and actually write in a corner of your chart, the following diagram.

The “D” represents distance, “S” represents speed and “T” represents time. In order to solve a distance, speed, time problem you need two of the three values and then must solve for the third.

Using the diagram, cover the unknown value with your finger and what you have left is the formula to solve the problem.

In our problem we know the distance and the speed so we cover up the “T” and the resulting formula is “D” over “S” or “D” divided by “S”.

Using this formula, the first step is to calculate how long it will take you to get to the restaurant by cruising at 12 knots for 29 nautical miles.

29 / 12 = 2.42 hours

Note: This is not two hours and 42 minutes, it is 2 hours and 42 hundredths of an hour. We now have to convert this decimal to minutes by multiplying .42 X 60.

.42 X 60 = 25 minutes – So…our trip will take 2 hours and 25 minutes.

Now that we know how long the trip will take, we simply need to subtract that time from the time of our 1200 reservation.

1200 – 225 = 0935

1160 – 225 = 0935

Note: that in order to subtract we had to borrow an hour from the hours column. 1160 is the same as 1200. We must leave the marina or boat ramp at 0935 (9:35 am) in order to arrive at the restaurant by noon.

If you would like to learn more about Time, Distance, Speed calculations or other aspects of navigation, check out our Nautical Know How Coastal Navigation Course.

Related Posts:

https://boatsafe.wordpress.com/2011/05/12/introduction-to-navigation/

https://boatsafe.wordpress.com/2011/05/13/introduction-to-navigation-part-2-nautical-charts/

https://boatsafe.wordpress.com/2011/05/16/introduction-to-navigation-part-3-definitions/

https://boatsafe.wordpress.com/2011/05/17/introduction-to-navigation-part-4-getting-to-know-your-magnetic-compass/

https://boatsafe.wordpress.com/2011/05/18/introduction-to-navigation-part-5-understanding-latitude-and-longitude/

https://boatsafe.wordpress.com/2011/05/19/introduction-to-navigation-part-6-time-calculations/

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Introduction to Navigation Part 6 Time Calculations

Navigation uses the 24-hour clock as its standard.  If you were fortunate enough to have been in the military, you probably are familiar with the 24-hour clock or military time.  However, if it has been a while since you have done anything except look at the numbers on your digital wristwatch you may need to brush up.  All time used in navigation is expressed as four digits.  The first two digits are the hour number.  The second two numbers are the minutes. Starting with 0000 hours at midnight, the hours are counted as 0100, 0200, 0300, etc. through 1200 at noon.  After the noon hour the hourly intervals continue to count with 1300 (1:00 PM), 1400 (2:00 PM), etc. until you reach midnight (0000) again.

Minutes are indicated with a two-digit number after the hour interval.  For example, 8:30 AM is written as 0830, and 12 minutes past four o’clock in the afternoon would be written as 1612.  Using military time there is no need to use AM or PM.  A time of 0900 is nine hours after midnight (9:00 AM), and 9:00 PM would be written as 2100 (9 hours past 1200).

These basics are covered in the online Nautical Know How Basic Boating Safety Course at http://boatsafe.com/navigation . It is highly recommended that, prior to beginning this advanced Coastal Navigation Course, each student successfully complete the Basic Boating Safety Course.

Calculating Time

The 24 hour clock makes it easy when you have to add or subtract time, one of the essential parts of doing distance, speed, time calculations.  Obviously, if you need to know how far you have gone at a certain speed you need to know how long (in time) you have been traveling.

As an example, if you wanted to find the time interval between a departure time of 0915 and an arrival time of 1325, you could set up a simple subtraction problem.    Hr
   13
 -09
  4 Hr
Min
25
15
10 Min 
Some problems can become a little more complex than the straight-forward subtraction problem above. What if you needed to find the time interval between your departure of 1345 and your arrival at 1515? When you set up the problem you get an unusual looking situation.    Hr
   15
  -13
    ?
 Min
15
45
? Min
 
You should remember that the two sets of two digit numbers represent two different units, i.e. hours and minutes. Just like in regular math, you must subtract the units to the right before you can subtract the units to the left.  In this case you have to borrow an hour from the hours unit.  Converting the hour to minutes, you have borrowed 60 minutes. So, 1515 is rewritten as 1475.
 
   Hr
  
15
   14
  -13
   1 Hr
 
Min
15
75
45
30 Min

Once you have properly set up the problem by borrowing an hour and converting to minutes, you simply perform a standard subtraction by taking 45 minutes from 75 minutes and 13 hours from 14 hours.  You time underway equals 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Related Posts:

https://boatsafe.wordpress.com/2011/05/12/introduction-to-navigation/

https://boatsafe.wordpress.com/2011/05/13/introduction-to-navigation-part-2-nautical-charts/

https://boatsafe.wordpress.com/2011/05/16/introduction-to-navigation-part-3-definitions/

https://boatsafe.wordpress.com/2011/05/17/introduction-to-navigation-part-4-getting-to-know-your-magnetic-compass/

https://boatsafe.wordpress.com/2011/05/18/introduction-to-navigation-part-5-understanding-latitude-and-longitude/

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Introduction to Navigation Part 5 Understanding Latitude and Longitude

Finding a street address on earth is not a difficult task, however finding a specific location in the middle of the ocean can present the mariner with a few problems.  In order to locate a specific location anywhere on earth, a grid system has been developed to give each area on the earth a specific address.  This system deals with “parallels of latitude” and “meridians of longitude.”

In order to begin to understand how to navigate, the navigator must understand some basic terminology and how it relates to the grid system.

These basics are covered in the online Nautical Know How Basic Boating Safety Course at http://boatsafe.com/navigation . 

 A “great circle” is a circle formed on a sphere, such as the earth, by the intersection of a plane passing through the center of the sphere.  An arc of a great circle is the shortest distance between two points, hence a great circle route is the shortest route between two points on the earth.  You might think of splitting an orange down the middle and going through the center.  The plane exposed would represent a great circle.

 A “small circle” is a circle formed on a sphere, such as the earth, where the intersection of a plane does not pass through the center of the sphere.  Cut that same orange in any other manner that does not pass through the center and you have created a small circle.

Parallels of Latitude are small circles that are measured from the equator (the only latitude that is a great circle) beginning at O° latitude at the equator to 90° North and South at the Poles.  These parallels are equal distance apart and run horizontally across a chart, like the rungs on a ladder.  You can use the “ladder” analogy to remember that “laddertude” lines are drawn across the chart, not up and down. 

Because latitude lines are equal distance apart they can be used to measure distance on the surface of the earth.  The only parallel of latitude that is a “great circle” is the equator itself as shown in the graphic. You will find latitude measurements on the side of your nautical chart.

Meridians of Longitude are “great circles” that pass through the north and south geographic poles.  The meridian of longitude that cuts through the earth at Greenwich, England is labeled as O° longitude and is known as the prime meridian.  Longitude is then measured from O° at Greenwich to 180° West and 180° East of Greenwich. The 180°th of longitude is the International Dateline.

Related Posts:

https://boatsafe.wordpress.com/2011/05/17/introduction-to-navigation-part-4-getting-to-know-your-magnetic-compass/

https://boatsafe.wordpress.com/2011/05/16/introduction-to-navigation-part-3-definitions/

https://boatsafe.wordpress.com/2011/05/13/introduction-to-navigation-part-2-nautical-charts/

https://boatsafe.wordpress.com/2011/05/12/introduction-to-navigation/

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Introduction to Navigation Part 4 Getting to Know Your Magnetic Compass

You may have noticed, if you have looked at a nautical chart, that there were two rings on the compass rose. The outside ring is based on true north and the 000° direction points to the true North Pole. On the inside ring labeled “MAGNETIC” the  000° direction points in a different direction than the outside ring.

These basics are covered in the online Nautical Know How Basic Boating Safety Course at http://boatsafe.com/navigation .

The difference between True and Magnetic is called “Variation.” Variation is a naturally occurring disturbance caused by the magnetic north pole. Variation will change depending on where you are located on the earth. If you are operating on the West Coast of the US you will have east variation because the magnetic north pole is located east of you. On the East Coast of the US you have west variation because the magnetic north pole is west of your location.

Another error which may show up in your magnetic compass is called “Deviation.”  Magnetic compasses are also affected by magnetic fields on the vessel itself. Just put some sort of ferrous metal such as a screw driver next to your compass and you will see an example of this error.

Significant errors of deviation could be caused by metal tanks, your engine, metallic objects near your compass or even electromagnetic interference caused by your radio.

To safely and accurately navigate from one position to another it is important to be able to correct for both “variation” and “deviation”  and be able to steer a course by your magnetic compass.

If you want to learn more about the magnetic compass and how to calculate TVMDC…READ MORE.

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Introduction to Navigation Part 3 Definitions

The following navigation terms are used in most recognized navigational texts. Learning and understanding what they mean will give you a head start on the information that is to be presented in later chapters. Don’t worry about memorizing all these at this time. You will get plenty of exposure to these terms as you advance through the course.

These basics are covered in the online Nautical Know How Coastal Navigation  Course at http://boatsafe.com/navigation .

Piloting is defined as the determination of the position and the direction of the movements of a vessel. This involves frequent or continuous reference to landmarks, aids to navigation, and depth sounding.

Direction is the orientation of an imaginary line joining one point to another without regard to the distance between them. Direction is measured in angular units of arc, measured in degrees, from a common reference whether it be true north or magnetic north. The usual reference is true north. The division of the degree may be either minutes and seconds or decimal fractions. Direction is written with three digits as in 000°.

Distance is the separation between two points without regard to direction. In navigation it is measured by the length of a line on the surface of the earth from one point to the other. It may be measured in units of yards, nautical miles or kilometers. The nautical mile is commonly used by navigators. The international nautical mile is 6076.12 feet. This is approximately 1.15 longer than the statute mile used on land.

Time is written as four digits in a 24 hour system; four minutes after midnight is 0004, 9:32 AM would be written as 0932 and 1:16 PM would be written as 1316.

Speed is defined as the rate of movement, and in navigation is usually measured in nautical miles per hour, or knots. The time element is included in the definition of “knot”; the use of knots (kts) per hour is incorrect. Speed is represented on your chart as “S”. Example S = 7.5 kts.

Dead Reckoning (DR) is the projection of a present position to an anticipated future position. This is done by using a previous known position and applying known direction, speed and distance covered. The term comes from deduced reckoning which was abbreviated ded reckoning. DR plots are done at a minimum of every hour or when ever you change course or speed. A new DR plot line is started each time a new “known position” is found.

Course is the direction of travel through the water or the direction a vessel is to be steered or is being steered. The course may be designated as true (T), magnetic (M), or compass (C). Course is always written in three digits and is followed by the abbreviation of its source. Example C = 090° T

Bearing is the direction of any place or object from a given point. It may be designated as true (T), magnetic (M), compass (C) or relative (R). It is always written in three digits and is followed by the abbreviation of its source. Example B = 270° T

Heading is the direction the vessel points or heads at any instant as read from your compass. It is always written in three digits. Example HDG = 270°

Fix is a known location at a specific time based on verifiable information and carrying a high degree of accuracy. Example:  0900

Running Fix is a known location at a specific time, with a lesser degree of accuracy than a fix. It is based on information obtained from a single event at two different times and plotted as a common time. Example:  R Fix 0900

Electronic Fix is a fix obtained from one or more electronic devices. Example:  0900

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