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Disclaimer:   I am not a spokesperson for the US Coast Guard or ABYC. For an official interpretation of regulations or standards you must contact the US Coast Guard or other organization referenced..   More..... 

Boating Safety

Seamanship

The simple definition of seamanship is; the art of operating a ship or boat. see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seamanship  However, seamanship is far from simple. It involves using many skills to safely operate a boat under all conditions, as well as maintain the boat in a safe condition. Some of those skills are:

Navigation.

Boat handling.

Weather.

Communications.

Sailing.

Rules of the road and other legal matters. See NAV RULES

Emergencies. Such as Man overboard, fire, flooding, engine failure, and others.

First Aid including CPR and other emergency medical procedures.

I am not going to try to teach you all of these in this web site. Entire books have been devoted to each of these subjects, but I will try to give you links and references to learn more about each skill.

Navigation: I covered some of this under Navigation Rules; http://newboatbuilders.com/boating/navrules.html and http://newboatbuilders.com/boating/navrules_2.html

Navigation Aids (Aids to Navigation) Buoys, Day Marks, Lights, Lighthouses. 
http://newboatbuilders.com/boating/AtoN.html
US Aids to Navigation System http://www.uscg.mil/d13/dpw/docs/usaidstonavigationsystembooklet23dec03.pdf
International Aids to Navigation (IALA)
http://www.sailingissues.com/navcourse9.html

Navigation involves being able to safely move your boat from one place to another, knowing where you are at all times,  without running aground or running into things. This is also called Piloting.  The most basic of navigation techniques is coastal navigation.  Coastal navigation implies that you always have landmarks in view that you can use to establish your location.  These landmarks can include aids to navigation such as lights, buoys, towers, and day marks (signs). Also, land features such as points, headlands, hills, mountains and other natural features, and man made landmarks such as tall or distinctive buildings, water towers, aircraft beacons, and bridges can be used fix your location.  This is called taking a fix, that is, establishing your location on a mapnautical chart. 

It also requires use of nautical charts. Automotive road maps should never be used for on the water navigation, they simply do not have enough accurate information.  Nautical charts are available in paper format, in booklets, or electronic charts that can be displayed on a computer, smart phone or tablet, or a dedicated electronic chart reader and navigation system. They can be downloaded from the internet by you, or downloaded and printed by a nautical chart retailer.  They contain a wealth of information on aids to navigation, water depths, locations of hazards such as rocks, reefs and wrecks.
Navigation Course: http://boatsafe.com/navigation/index.htm
Coastal Navigation: http://www.coastalnavigation.com/welcome1.htm
Coastal Navigation With GPS: http://www.landfallnavigation.com/cona.html

It also requires the use of simple instruments, a compass, a pair of binoculars, a pencil, a pair of dividers and a nautical protractor (also called a chart protractor, see below.)


Another navigation technique is called dead reckoning.  This involves navigation when out of sight of land, or when in limited visibility.  It requires starting from a known position and being able to judge or measure your speed and distance traveled.  You must know the direction you are traveling and any other conditions such as current and wind speed and direction.  Then you calculate how far you have traveled over a specific time period.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead_reckoning

Probably the most common method used today is GPS (Global Position System), using satellites to determine a position.   This is a very good and accurate means of navigation.  Unfortunately far too many people rely solely on GPS which can get them into real trouble.  GPS fixes only tell you where you are. Without a chart that shows the surrounding area, and things such as reefs, rocks, shallows, and so on the GPS can lead you into hot water fast. To effectively use GPS you need to know the basics of coastal navigation first!  Also, if for some reason GPS fails (there are countless possibilities, the simplest of which is the power fails) you need to know how to go back to basics.
Navigating with GPS (USCGAUX) http://www.5nr.org/downloads/training/gps.pdf

Other methods:
Radio Navigation (triangulation) also called RDF or Radio Direction Finding.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio_navigation
Electronic Navigation by using Global Positioning System (GPS) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-Navigation
Radar: Using radar to determine a fix (your position) by using landmarks that reflect radar. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radar_navigation
Sonar: Using nautical charts that show depths and depth finders to locate a known fathom line and following the fathom line to a pre determined point. http://www.radarmarine.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/sonar-part-one.pdf
Celestial Navigation. Using a sextant, and an accurate clock (chronometer) and the stars, sun. and planets to navigate without electronic aids. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celestial_navigation

Several good books on Seamanship and Navigation:
Chapmans Piloting and Seamanship.  Maloney,  http://www.amazon.com/Chapman-Piloting-Seamanship-Edition-Handling/dp/1588169618
Boating Skills and Seamanship. (US Coast Guard Auxiliary) http://www.amazon.com/Boating-Skills-Seamanship-14th-Edition/dp/0071829326/ref=pd_sim_b_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=0PX6PXNCGQ6CRX0A645W
The Annapolis Book Of Seamanship. Rousmanierre http://www.amazon.com/The-Annapolis-Book-Seamanship-Edition/dp/1451650191/ref=pd_sim_b_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=04HTPN6EJ868XSM1EW96

 

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