Knowing a few boating rules can keep you safe on the water. No matter what type of boat you are captaining or what you plan to do on your boat, there are a few rules that apply to every boater. You need to know what to do when you see other boats sailing on the same path as you. You also need to look out for other vessels that float on water.
Boating navigation rules are somewhat the same when steering on the road. From sound signaling to using the headlights, all rules apply to boating.
There have been hundreds of blogs and eBooks written on boating navigation. The topic is quite vast, so we will cover the basics to help you navigate easily as a first-timer.
Basic Navigation Tools
The four most basic tools compulsory for navigation include a compass, dividers, parallel rulers, and waterway charts. These tools will allow you to accomplish three navigational tasks: Finding out where you want to go, where you are, and following the set course.
Where Is My Boat?
If you find yourself lost at sea, do not panic. Look around and spot any three chartered landmarks, including bridges, navigational aids, and water towers.
Hold a compass in your hands and point it towards one of the landmarks. Record the bearing, and then place the parallel rulers on your compass to match the bearings. Keep working on it until they meet the landmark. Now, draw a line with the ruler.
Once you have made all three lines, they will intersect and create a triangle. That is your location.
How to Navigate
Navigation is all about identifying your destination and location. Then, determine the place of the matching compass bearing. Set the boat’s compass to stay in line with the bearing, and you can set your course.
Following a Course
After setting the bearing, following a course is quite easy. You simply need to steer the boat and make sure the compass matches the bearing. It can be a little challenging to keep the boat in line, especially when you are a small and fast vessel, but a variation of 5 degrees does not matter.
There was a time we didn’t have electronics, such as chart plotters and GPS. You still need to keep your eyes peeled for any obstruction and danger. Beyond that, here are the standard navigation tools:
Compass: A compass directs your boat and tells you whether you are heading west, east, south or north. A hand-held compass can allow you to take multiple bearings, including the direction of the course and where an item is placed.
Charts: Charts refer to nautical maps that help you navigate the waters of specific cities.
Parallel Rulers: This set of rulers is attached with swiveling arms that open and close and allow you to walk on a chart and, at the same time, maintain an angle.
Dividers: Also called compass dividers, these allow you to measure distance. You can separate two points or less to signify a nautical mile.
As a beginner, you need to know how to use these basic tools. When it comes to electronic navigation, you can use a chart plotter that provides a digital chart, which you can use to plot a course, set location, and more.
There’s plenty more information on navigation. We suggest you relax on your floating dock and take a short course to find out what more you can. Stay tuned for “Part 2” of this blog for some navigation tips.
Looking to part your boat at your own dock? Visit the Nor Col EZ Dock website for quality floating docks. The company also offers do-it-yourself docks, covered floating docks, plastic docks, kayak launches, etc. For a quote and more information, call (800) 654-8168.