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Basic Navigation Essentials for Boating

By November 5, 2018 Boating
A round boat navigating the backwaters in the mangroves

For centuries boaters depended on celestial navigation to traverse the seas, however, modern technology has brought about a change in the way we cross the brine. Upon a boat, navigational tools are as important as safety equipment. Without these tools, the boater might become adrift at sea. Moreover, it’s essential to deploy as many tools as possible, although navigating the ocean is an ancient pastime, a perfect tool has yet to be invented. A Captain’s arsenal can include a map, compass, portable Global Positioning Device (GPS) and a smartphone.

Despite advances in technology, a map and compass remain the captain’s best companion. These tools require no electricity and are almost fail proof. A compass possesses a slight margin of error: true north and the North Pole aren’t geographically along the same longitudinal line. However, these tools remain the most reliable. To deploy these tools, the captain must possess a knowledge of navigation through charting, or at least the cardinal direction of the nearest harbor.

A portable Global Positioning Device has become an indispensable tool; we use it to guide our cars and boats. Global Positioning devices came about during 1973. It was invented by the United States Military. Global Positioning tools provide accuracy, they possess a +/- 49-foot margin of error. Yet, without electricity, a portable GPS becomes nothing more than a brick. However, when properly functioning, GPS is the easiest tool to deploy.

Smart Phones have become a part of our daily life; most industries and activities deploy a smartphone in one capacity or another. A smartphone, with a navigational application, should be included in the Captain’s arsenal. However, this tool requires data and will only work while in range of a cell tower. Moreover, the most trusted application for nautical navigation is Navionics. Navionics transforms your phone into a chart plotter and includes an array of navigational functions.

Nautical navigation requires a myriad of tools. It’s an error in judgment to depend solely on one tool for traversing the vast and complex system of wind and waves we call the ocean.

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