Navigation Tips for Safe Sailing, Cruising and Safety at Sea

Safe Cruising and Safety at Sea – Sailing and Safe Navigation

New York (USA), September 02, 2017

Sailing and Safe Navigation

Before sailing on your yacht or boat, learn and remain aware of all safe navigational charts and aids. With the help of technology, it is possible to provide electronic surveillance and navigational support. Yet, you should have thorough knowledge of nautical charts for proper guidance while sailing.

Nautical Chart

All sailing boats and ships should carry nautical charts. It is mandatory in most countries. Nautical charts could be in the form of printed charts or computerized electronic charts. A nautical chart provides a graphical representation of specific maritime area and its surrounding regions. The chart enumerates land heights, seabed features, water depths and coastline details, details of tides and currents, Earth’s magnetic field, navigational hazards, location of harbors, and bridges, locations of natural and artificial navigational aids and similar more information.

The national hydrographic office of every country publishes respective nautical charts. International Hydrographic Organization coordinates all individual nautical charts to formulate a unified system. Always carry the most recently published nautical chart, as there are regular changes and corrections in charts. The top of a nautical chart indicates true north. This is not necessarily magnetic north or the north direction as shown by compass. Most charts have a compass rose to show variation between magnetic and true north.

Paper nautical charts are printed across many large sheets of paper on varied scales. When starting on an expedition, you will have to carry many charts to get sufficient details of all the areas you would be covering. Electronic navigational charts are available through electronic databases and use computer software to provide all essential navigational information. It is common to carry paper charts even if you have electronic nautical charts as paper charts provide necessary backup if electronic charting system fails.

Features of a Nautical Chart

Pilotage Information
Nautical charts use different signage to indicate prominent features like seamarks, seabed information, possible hazards, position, and characteristics of buoys, lighthouses, coastal features, and landmarks. These symbols and marks are in different colors. Longitude and latitude scales of chart borders indicate position of places. Bearing is the angle between line joining two points of interest and the line from any one of the points to the north direction or corresponding to any specific landmark.

Tidal Information
Nautical charts use special symbols to indicate tidal currents and other currents. Tidal diamonds indicate bearing and speed of tidal flow during each hour of tidal cycle.

Numbers on the chart indicates water depths across designated areas of water. Different colors indicate shallow water and dangerous underwater obstructions while depth contour lines indicate shape of underwater relief. Depth is measured normally in meters. Some old charts use feet or fathoms.

You should have a nautical chart onboard as it helps you compare what you are seeing with what is shown on the chart. This formulates apt bearings.

Regulatory Markers on Water

These informational markers indicate presence of different situations, directions, and dangers. These are easily identifiable due to orange bands on top and bottom of each buoy. Some indicate speed zones, swim areas, shoals, and similar others.

Controlled Area
An orange circle lies within an orange square. The circle indicates type of control like anchoring, no wake, slow, or others.

Boat Exclusion Area
A crossed orange diamond lies within an orange square. Swim area, rapids, or dams are indicated outside of the crossed diamond shape.

An orange diamond lies within an orange square. The diamond indicates wreck, rock, dam, shoal, and similar others.

An orange colored rectangle contains directions to specific points with information of distances or locations.

Tips for Safe Navigation

1. Before starting out, study your nautical chart carefully.

2. Formulate your course and look for any special information along the course like obstructions, water depths, power lines, hazards, and similar information.

3. Note down all possible markers, buoys, and other important characteristics along your route on a separate piece of paper in the order they would appear. This prepares you for what you could encounter on your route.

4. Always, check weather before setting sail. Postpone if weather are not very conducive.

Guide to Sailing and Ocean Cruising in a Medium Sized Yacht
The Complete Reference Guide to Sailing and Ocean Cruising in a Medium Sized Yacht

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