Navigation is fun!

To move and be safe at sea we need the ability to navigate. Over the last 30 years I have had the privilege to introduce over 1000 sailors to the skill of navigation. The learning of navigation has changed immeasurably over this time.........and learning navigation is now more fun! 

Points of compassWhen I was 13 my dad brought me along to a Navigation Course with a local sea captain - we learned all the points of the compass off by heart, we learned about tangents and cosines and did lots of intricate maths - not for me!!   Some 15 years later I was to the pin of my collar trying to make the learning of navigation interesting and enjoyable --- I didn't have to wait to long as the RYA (Royal Yachting Association) developed a detailed scheme to help sailors to learn about navigation. Over the years the RYA have provided more and more support and through the 80's and 90's we had course notes with answer books, and RYA text book for each area as well as a full set of tests and exams. The publications have been constantly updated along with newer practice charts.

Chart PlotterThe big change in navigation came as the GPS blossomed into the CHART PLOTTER. Navigation now came to life! Difficult to get a chart plotter off the boat and into a classroom so the RYA developed a disk for PC's  - navigation is now fun!!

Chartplotters have moved forward and we now have PC navigation, iPhone navigation and now navigation on the iPad. Of course paper charts are still of vital importance but now they are the back up and Electronic Navigation is the main source of navigation.

I first used a Decca Navigation system back in the late 1960's and of course Direction Finding was our staple diet. The GPS began to take over from Decca in the '80's but it was not until the advent of the Chartplotter that Electronic Navigation really came to the fore. Now I can navigate from my desk! I can use Google Earth to see any place on the world and to measure distance for my passage planning. Pictures and Google Street View give me a great feel for a place in advance of going there. 

Electronic Charts

Charts for Chartplotters are expensive (around €200 for Irl, UK and near waters) so when the RYA introduced a disc for teaching they got the Admiralty (Chart Producers) to produce discs for all UK and Ireland waters for the PC - you can now get ALL the charts for Ireland and the UK for just over €100! Imagine if you were to buy all the paper charts to cover these areas! Cost would be several thousand euros!
iPad ChartNavionics is one of the leading electronic chart producers and when they introduced their charts as an App for the iPhone it was a huge step forward- you can get IR, UK + near continent for only €50! Only problem is the size of the screen....................

But then came the iPad!! .........and what a screen! Better than most chartplotters! ...............and Navionics produced HD (High Definition) charts for them too! So passage planning has become really easy. ......and much more get started now and begin to plan next season afloat!

Come and join me on the Day Skipper Navigation Course in Crosshaven on Tue 25 Oct or Blackrock in Cork City on Thur 27 Oct or the Yachtmaster Course on Wed 26 in Crosshaven.

Some past blogs which may be of interest:

A navigation course is about a lot more than navigation!

The Art and Science of Navigation

Back to top