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Online Book:

Navigation and Marine Electronics

There are endless posts and comments on the internet about the latest cool electronic gadgets to help us navigate. But will acquiring all this expensive stuff make you a navigator who is competent and safe to go voyaging?

No, not unless you also grasp the fundamentals of understanding where you are. In this Online Book, Colin, Phyllis and John share the fruits of a combined century of navigation, much of it before electronic gadgets, and then relate that experience to modern electronic navigation.

Table of Contents:

Knowing Where It’s At

We start this book by looking at the most important aspect of good and safe navigation. More important than fancy electronics. More important than paper charts. More important than radar. Situation awareness—knowing where you are at all times.

You Still Need an Accurate Compass

What if your plotter dies, or the datum is way out on the chart against the GPS, or you are navigating an intricate passage? These are just a few situations when an accurate compass is vital.

Backup Systems, Do We Need Paper?

For many navigators the idea of going to sea without any paper charts aboard at all is pure heresy. But is that really true? Are we just hanging on to paper charts because we are stuck in our ways? Is there a viable all electronic backup?

Marine Electronics System Recommendations

Up to this point in this Online Book we have been writing about good navigation practices. Now let’s turn our eyes to the cool electronic toys we all love.

And since I’m an electronics technician by trade and have spent most of my working life in high tech fields this is going to be leading edge stuff and way cool!

Navigation System—Plotter Or Computer?

John looks at the question of whether to install a dedicated plotter or a computer for electronic navigation, and continues with a description of what he did install and how it has worked out.

The Best Windows Computer For Navigation

So what’s the best computer to run navigation software on? John, who has spent most of his working life around computers, takes a deep dive into the issues and then reveals his choice.

The Secret Life Of Your GPS

Pretty much all of us rely on GPS, but have you every wondered how the thing actually works? Matt has the answers, and they are fascinating.

Coastal Passages, Part 1—Making a Plan, 10 Tips

Many voyagers worry most about ocean passages but, in fact, the dangers are far higher on a coastal passage. Colin, who has made countless passages along one of the most challenging coasts anywhere, is eminently qualified to guide us through the coastal passage planning process.

Coastal Passages, Part 2—Rounding Headlands

In the first chapter in this five part series, Colin shared his overall planning process. He now moves on to a more detailed look at the features that almost always control how we approach and execute a passage: headlands and capes.

Coastal Passages, Part 3—Off We Go

In Parts 1 and 2, Colin shared how he plans for a complex coastal passage. Now he puts all of that into practice and in the process shows us that there is no one right way, but rather we must always be flexible and exercise good judgement.

Costal Passages, Part 4—Keep On Plugging

When last we left Colin and his crew at the end of Part 3, they had just crossed the Celtic Sea and finessed both the tide at Lands End and and their Landfall in Ireland—all good results based on the planning that Colin covered in Part 1 and Part 2. Now, in Part 4 they make some early starts and bring Scotland in sight.

Coastal Passages, Part 5—On To The Finish

In the final part of Colin’s series on coastal passagemaking, he and his crew cross to Scotland and wend their way through beautiful, but challenging, tidal straits to the finish. Colin then provides us with a succinct summary of the lessons learned, winding up a series that provides all of us the tools to plan and execute even the most difficult passages in a seamanlike manner.

Navigating in Fog, Part 1, The Tools

Some of the best cruising grounds in the world are plagued with fog, so it pays to have the necessary gear as well as navigation and collision-avoidance skills—will make you safer at night too.

Colin starts off a three part series with an in-depth analysis of the tools to have when the visibility shuts down.

Navigation in Fog, Part 2—Preparation

Never was the old axiom proper preparation prevents poor performance more relevant than when cruising foggy places. Colin gives us an in-depth check list to run through before we leave port.

Navigation in Fog, Part 3—Underway

Colin has covered gear and preparation for navigating in fog. Now we get to the meat of it: what to do when underway and the visibility shuts down. Includes a vital section on the rules of the road in fog.

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