Coastal Navigation

General Standard
The Coastal Navigation graduate will have demonstrated the art of traditional navigation techniques and the ability to integrate electronic navigation tools into the navigation plan.

Required Equipment
It is required that Coastal Navigation courses and examinations be conducted in a classroom environment, and with adequate equipment inventory and publications to complete all required certification outcomes.


Certification Requirements
Coastal Navigation Certification requires the successful completion of the following knowledge and skills, as demonstrated by passing a written examination. These requirements are expected to be performed with confidence and a high degree of accuracy.

Here are the practical skills and knowledge required:

Introduction to Methodology:

  • Understand relative bearings and how to convert them for plotting.
  • Demonstrate the use of the true and magnetic compass roses and the correct application of variation and deviation.
  • Demonstrate how to integrate electronic information with traditional navigation techniques.
  • Demonstrate your ability to use a hand bearing compass.
  • Understand buoyage systems and Aids to Navigation.
  • Calculate the geographical and luminous range of a light for a given height of eye and visibility.
  • Describe the operation of electronic navigation instruments: knotmeters, knotlogs, fathometers, wind speed and direction finders, Loran, GPS, radar, VHF radio, weatherfax, and personal computers.
  • Understand the importance of using a navigation (or deck) log when navigating formally.
  • Understand the principles of safe inshore pilotage, such as: safe course, clearing (or danger) bearings, back bearings, ranges (or transits), and use of the fathometer.
  • Understand how to interpret and integrate weather information into your navigation
  • Describe the importance of such navigational strategies as: upwind or upcurrent arrival; anticipating leeway; the favored tack; working the middle; reaching, not running; and the dawn arrival.
  • Be familiar with the safety precautions to be taken before entering fog and describe the following fog tactics: buoy hopping, deliberate offset, visibility circles.


  • Demonstrate your ability to select appropriate charts from the chart catalog.
  • Demonstrate your ability to update charts using the Local Notice to Mariners.
  • Demonstrate your ability to use Chart #1.
  • Demonstrate your ability to use a Coast Pilot.
  • Demonstrate your ability to use a Light List.
  • Determine the height of tide at any time or location.
  • Determine the direction and strength of the current at any time or location
  • Be familiar with the sources of appropriate navigation publications.


  • Measure distance on a chart with and without a bar scale.
  • Determine the Latitude and Longitude of a position.
  • Plot and label, neatly and accurately, the following items: a Ded Reckoning (DR) course; a course corrected for leeway; an after motion triangle to determine the set and drift of a known current; a before motion triangle to determine a course to steer given the set and drift of a known current; a running fix; a fix; a danger bearing; ranges.

Navigation Equipment:

  • Understand the care and use of plotting tools.
  • Understand the operation of Loran and GPS.
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