Category Archives: Navigation

Introduction to Navigation Part 2 Nautical Charts

Today is the second of a series of articles about Navigation. You can advance your Navigation Know How by participating in the Nautical Know How Coastal Navigation Course.

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

Nautical charts are different from maps in that they specifically depict water areas while maps concentrate on land area, roads, landmarks, etc. Land areas and features on charts are sketchy and are noted only for their interest to the Navigator. Unlike maps, the nautical chart conveys much information specifically designed to assist in safely navigating the area that the chart covers.

Chart Scaling

 The scale of a chart is expressed as a ratio such as 1:80,000. This could also be represented as the fraction 1/80,000. This means that one unit on the chart represents 80,000 of the same units on the earth. The terms “small scale” and “large scale” can be confusing if you haven’t studied fractions recently. The denominator of the fraction (the number under the line) is the number that changes as the scale of the chart changes. The larger the denominator  the smaller the fraction. For instance 1:80,000 is smaller than 1:40,000, so the larger the denominator the smaller the scale of the chart. That is, a 1:80,000 chart would be a small scale while a 1:40,000 would be a large scale.

 Chart Colors

The major water areas are not colored and retain the white color of the paper itself. Shallow water areas, shown in light blue and light green, indicate shallows that are uncovered at some stage of the tide, such as marsh areas.

 Small objects such as buoys and markers are shown in a magenta color. Because charts are used at night under red light (to keep from impairing night vision) the color magenta shows up best at night and in the day.

 Buoys and dayboards that are actually red are indicated in magenta. Green buoys and dayboards are shown in green.

Lighted buoys, regardless of their color, are shown with a magenta dot over the small circle portion of the chart symbol. Cautions, symbols noting danger, compass roses and recommended courses are also noted in magenta.

For more about the Nautical Know How Coastal Navigation Course…READ MORE.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Boat Operation, Boating News, Boating Safety, Fishing News, Lake Boating, Navigation, Sailing News, Uncategorized

Introduction to Navigation

Gay Head LightToday starts a series of articles about Navigation. We will give you a list of skill sets required to become a “real” navigator and also give you the opportunity to advance your Navigation Know How by participating in the Nautical Know How Coastal Navigation Course. This course will give you step-by-step instructions on how to navigate safely from one point to another. It teaches you to take into consideration all effects including set, drift, tides, currents, etc. that might hinder you along the way.

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

ORDER BY DECEMBER 20 FOR ARRIVAL BY CHRISTMAS.

Navigation can be divided into four primary classifications:

  • piloting
  • dead reckoning
  • electronic navigation
  • celestial navigation

The problems that you, as a navigator, must solve are as follows:

  1. How to determine your position.
  2. How to determine the direction in which to proceed to get from one position to another.
  3. How to determine distance and related factors of time and speed as you proceed.

Of these three problems facing every navigator, the most basic is that of locating your position. Unless you know your position, you cannot direct the movements of your vessel with any accuracy, safety or efficiency.

You will need to have, and learn to use, several navigation tools. Although there are many tools at your disposal at any marine store, the following are the minimum necessary:

  •  dividers
  • parallel rulers
  • right angle triangle (optional, but handy)
  • charts
  • pencils
  • hand bearing compass
  • steering compass
  • watch or chronometer
  • log and time-keeping note paper
  • calculator, abacus or fingers & toes

Leave a comment

Filed under Boat Operation, Boating News, Boating Safety, Fishing News, Lake Boating, Navigation, Sailing News

Early Morning Fog

With temperatures starting to swing from warm to cool and back you may have noticed a phenomena that I usually remind boaters of in the spring and fall. However, with the higher temperatures, even before sunrise, fog, haze and sea smoke are starting to develop.

In addition to navigation lights, (note that the Tug has no visible lights) the Navigation Rules require all ­vessels to carry sound-producing devices for use during meeting, crossing and overtaking situations. Sound signals are also required during periods of reduced visibility to make other boaters in the area aware of your relative position and the status of your vessel; for example, a power-driven vessel under way and making way is required to sound one prolonged blast at intervals not to exceed two minutes.

It is easy to get lost or disoriented when visibility is limited. Things look very different which can be stressful for inexperienced boat operators. Expect the unexpected. Practice good risk assessment when deciding whether to boat in restricted visibility. Make sure your required safety equipment is on board, including visual distress signals, and that everyone is wearing a life jacket. Take a boating safety course and educate yourself on best practices for boating at night.

Boating in the Fog

Fog can develop very quickly and brings an increased risk of collision. In fog, if other boats can’t see you they need to hear you. If you see fog moving in, do the following before your visibility becomes seriously reduced:

  1. Fix your position on a chart or mark it on an electronic plotter.
  2. Reduce your speed to the point where you can stop your vessel in half the distance you can actually see.
  3. Turn on your navigation lights.
  4. Instruct any passengers to help you keep watch — by sight, sound and smell preferably in the bow.
  5. Begin sounding one prolonged blast on your horn (four to six seconds) every two minutes while under way and making way, and two prolonged blasts every two minutes when under way and stopped. Continue until the fog lifts and visibility significantly improves.

Leave a comment

Filed under Boat Operation, Boating News, Boating Safety, Navigation, Sailing News, The Boating Environment

Why Do We Need America’s Waterway Watch?

Hope everyone had a great labor day weekend. The unofficial end of summer weekend unfortunately also brought up  a short week leading up to the 12th anniversary of probably the most devastating event in American’s history – 911. This was one of those events that almost everyone vividly remembers where they were and what they were doing when it happened.

Many American boaters have asked, “How can I help?” This is how — By participating in America’s Waterway Watch.

Home

HomePort Security

America’s coasts, rivers, bridges, tunnels, ports, ships, military bases, and waterside industries may be the terrorists’ next targets.

Waterway security is better than ever but with more than 95,000 miles of shoreline, more than 290,000 square miles of water and approximately 70 million recreational boats in the United States, the U.S. Coast Guard and local first responders can’t do the job alone.

Be aware of suspicious activity, particularly near the locations above, including…

  • People appearing to be engaged in surveillance of any kind (note taking, shooting video/photos, making sketches, or asking questions).
  • Unattended vessels or vehicles in unusual locations.
  • Lights flashing between boats.
  • Unusual diving activity.
  • Unusual number of people onboard.
  • Unusual night operations.
  • Recovering or tossing items into/onto the waterway or shoreline.
  • Operating in or passing through an area that does not typically have such activity.
  • Fishing/hunting in locations not typically used for those activities.
  • Missing fencing or lighting near sensitive locations.
  • Anchoring in an area not typically used for anchorage.
  • Transfer of people or things between ships or between ship and shore outside of port.
  • Anyone operating in an aggressive manner.
  • Individuals establishing businesses or roadside food stands near sensitive locations.
  • Small planes flying over critical locations.
  • People attempting to buy or rent fishing or recreational vessels with cash for short-term, undefined use.

To report suspicious activity call the National Response Center at 1-877-24WATCH.  For immediate danger to life or property, call 911

Leave a comment

Filed under Boat Operation, Boating News, Boating Safety, Fishing News, Lake Boating, Navigation, Rules of the Road, Sailing News, Uncategorized

America’s Waterway Watch History

In light of the numerous tributes to 911 yesterday we thought we should remind boaters of “America’s Waterway Watch.”  America’s Waterway Watch is similar to the Coast Watch program of World War II, which caused a group of citizen-volunteers who were mobilized as a uniformed, civilian component of the Coast Guard to scan the coast for U-boats and saboteurs attempting to infiltrate the shores of the United States. Today, America’s Waterway Watch goes one step further: It calls on ordinary citizens like you who spend much of their time on and around America’s waterways to assist in the War on Terrorism on the Domestic Front.

The enemy this nation faces today is unlike any other in our history. The operatives who may be attempting to enter the United States via our waterfront areas, whether as stowaways on ships entering our ports or on pleasure craft entering our marinas, do not wear a uniform or carry arms openly. They have chosen to attack us using unconventional warfare, and we  must be prepared to report events such as people entering our country illegally along the hundreds of miles of coastline, and people preparing to attack our critical infrastructure. America’s Waterway Watch calls on all port and waterfront users to report suspicious activity in and around the area where they live, work and play.

Who better than the families living along our shoreline to recognize when the behavior of visitors in and around their community is not consistent with what usually takes place in the neighborhood?

Young girl looking through binoculars

Who better than the longshoreman to know whether an individual who is loitering near a restricted area while video taping, taking photos, or making sketches is out of place and does not belong there?

Who better than a marina operator or a dock master to know if the crew that is not a “normal” customer is acting suspiciously?

And who better than recreational boaters, while traveling in familiar waters, to notice unusual and suspicious activities going on around them?

It is not the intent of America’s Waterway Watch to spread paranoia or to encourage spying on one another, and it is not a surveillance program. Instead, it is a simple deterrent to potential terrorist activity. The purpose of America’s Waterway Watch is to allow you and your fellow Americans who work and spend their leisure time on the waterways and waterfront to assist the federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies by being ever vigilant in recognizing possible threats and crimes on and around our waterways.

Many Americans like you have asked, “How can I help?” The answer is clear:

By participating in America’s Waterway Watch!

 To report suspicious activity call the National Response Center at 1-877-24WATCH.  For immediate danger to life or property, call 911.

Leave a comment

Filed under Boat Operation, Boating News, Boating Safety, Fishing News, Lake Boating, Navigation, Rules of the Road, Sailing News, The Boating Environment, Uncategorized

What’s That Flashing Blue Light?

This past weekend, the official end of the boating season in many areas there were many flashing blue lights that stopped, boarded and inspected dozens of vessels. Most of these “weekend boaters” were just out for a day on the water.

If you are not aware, and some of those boaters obviously weren’t, anytime you see a flashing blue light it indicates a law enforcement vessel is operating in the area.

The United States Coast Guard can and will board you at their discretion. They need no search warrant, no provocation, no reason other than to ensure you are in compliance with all applicable federal laws and regulations.

So what happens if you are boarded? Although you will find them young and very polite, these are highly trained Federal officers. The very first question that they will ask you, before they even step off their vessel onto yours, is, “do you have any weapons on board?” You should check your local regulations but I can’t think of any reason what-so-ever to carry a weapon when out for a day on the water.

The inspection that follows is driven largely by the size of the vessel with a few standard exceptions. Your actual registration needs to be onboard and must be current. The “HIN” number, like your car’s “VIN” number, needs to be the same on your registration and on your boat (low on the starboard side of the transom.) If they don’t match, someone has a lot of explaining to do.

The registration numbers must be of proper size (at least 3”), of contrasting color to your hull and be the most forward of any numbering or lettering on the boat.

If you have a “MSD” (Marine Sanitation Device, a.k.a. a “head” or toilet), regardless of the size of your vessel, it must conform to regulations. All the bays and creeks are “No Discharge Zones” so, if there is an over-board through-hull from the MSD holding tank, it must be in the locked/closed position and the key must under the control of the skipper.

The rest is largely going to be driven by the size of your vessel e.g. :

  • how many personal flotation devices (life jackets) – at least one for everybody aboard, be in good working order and readily available. A type IV throwable if the size of your vessel requires one.
  • fire extinguishers – boat size dependent but all must be in working order.
  • flares – boat size dependent but all must not be past their expiration date.
  • For all federal requirements go to BoatSafe.com for a list.

The following are the three scenarios that may happen as a result of being boarded.

  1. If you are in full compliance you will get a Report of Boarding marked, “No violations.” This means that you are in full compliance and can continue your boating activities.
  2. If you are found to have a minor violation that does not create a major safety issue you will be issued a “Written Warning.” If however, the boarding officer returns to the station and finds that you already have been given a warning for the same issue, your notice becomes a “Violation.”
  3. The third outcome that could happen is that – a “Notice of Violation” is issued immediately. If the boarding officer believes that the nature of the violation is inherently unsafe, you will be directed to follow the Coast Guard back to the dock. They are not going to allow you to continue your boating activity with some aspect of your boat that can lead to serious injury or death to you, your crew or other boaters. If the “Notice of Violation” takes on the aspect of a driving violation, the notice is mailed to the Coast Guard hearing office in Portsmouth, VA. There the boarding report will be reviewed by a case officer where fines, further letters of violations, etc will be issued. You will be notified by mail and you will have time (15 days) to file an appeal.

The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary conducts free vessel exams all season long . These are not enforcement events.

If your boat “fails” virtually the same inspection that would be conducted by a boarding, you get a report that details the deficiency. Once you have corrected the deficiency you can call and re-run the inspection.

A successful inspection results in a USCGAux sticker of compliance being affixed to your windshield. To schedule a USCGAux free inspection go to : http://www.safetyseal.net/GetVSC/

Leave a comment

Filed under Boat Maintenance, Boat Operation, Boating News, Boating Safety, Fishing News, Lake Boating, Navigation, Sailing News, Uncategorized

Marina Or Anchorage? Where Can I Get WiFi?

Internet access afloat is becoming increasingly important with boat owners wanting access to news, weather, email and business systems on board. The WL510 allows users to connect to WiFi hot spots with a range of up to four – six miles depending on conditions.

It uses a powerful modem and amplifier unit together with a 1m high quality external WiFi antenna and connects to the boat’s PC or laptop computer via an ethernet connection. The unit incorporates its own DHCP server, so can be connected to a router to allow multiple devices such as iPads, iPhones, Macs or PCs to connect to the WL510 system.

Any connected user can control which WiFi access point or hot spot is in use through a simple web interface. The new interface also allows network security settings and the unit’s output power to be adjusted to optimise performance.

The WL510 is priced at $749.00 and is available now. Existing users of WL500’s can upgrade to the WL510 by simply changing their below deck unit. For further information about this option visit www.digitalyachtamerica.com

Disclaimer. I have not used or tested this product. The source of the product description and claims are contributed by the SailMiami boat show.

Leave a comment

Filed under Boat Operation, Boating News, Boating Safety, Fishing News, Lake Boating, Navigation, Sailing News