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Coastal Navigation Standard

The following is covered in the Home study Coastal Navigation course.


To be able to demonstrate the navigational theory required to safely navigate a sailing cruiser in coastal or inland waters. The concepts are introduced in the Intermediate Cruising and Power Standards. The Navigation Standard is applied practically and tested in the Advanced Cruising Standard.


This is one of the standards required by Sail Canada as a prerequisite to taking the
 Advanced Cruising Standard. You can attain this navigation standard by passing the Sail Canada Coastal Navigation Standard Examination.


You must be able to:

  1. Explain the chart symbols and conventions on Canadian Hydrographic charts, in accordance with the terminology of Chart #1; 
  2. Identify a source of official Canadian government navigation publications; 
  3. List the publications required for prudent navigation in the local area, including the following minimum requirements:
    a) Large scale charts of the area and Chart #1, Symbols & Abbreviations,
    b) Sailing Directions,
    c) Tide and Current Tables,
    d) Collision Regulations,
    e) Local rules and regulations,
    f) List of Lights, Buoys, and Fog Signals,
    g) Radio Aids to Marine Navigation (if using electronic navigation)
    h) Transport Canada Safe Boating Guide;
  4. List the instruments required for prudent navigation in the local area, including the following minimum requirements:
    a) Steering compass and deviation table,
    b) Handbearing compass,
    c) Dividers,
    d) Protractor, plotter or parallel rule,
    e) Watch or clock,
    f) Depth sounder or lead line
    g) Log/knotmeter,
    h) Pencil/eraser/note book;
  5. Describe the purpose of Notices to Mariners; 
  6. Use the Tide and Current Tables to find:
    a) Times and heights of tides at reference and secondary ports,
    b) Direction and rate of current at reference and secondary stations;
  7. Convert courses, headings and bearings between true, magnetic, and compass; 
  8. Check compass deviation by means of a transit bearing; 
  9. Plot:
    a) dead reckoning position on a chart, using speed, time, and course through water,
    b) The estimated position allowing for the effect of current and leeway;
  10. Determine a heading that counteracts:
    a) Known current,
    b) Leeway;
  11. Given the course through water and speed, and two observed positions, determine the current; 
  12. Determine:
    a) Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA),
    b) Revised ETA;
  13. Plot a chart position from terrestrial objects, using:
    a) Two or more bearings on different objects taken at one time
    b) A running fix on one or two objects
    c) One bearing and a transit/range
    d) One distance (i.e. a sounding, or dipping a light) and one bearing;
  14. Use correct plotting and labeling procedures as outlined below; 
  15. Demonstrate knowledge of passage planning by:
    a) Prepare a plan of a coastal passage of at least 20 miles in three stages: i) Overall plan on a small scale chart, ii) a detailed plan on a large scale chart, iii) and a departure or arrival plan including tide and current information.
    b) Use transits, lead marks, stern marks and clearing bearings in passage planning;
    c) Transfer positions between charts using nearest compass rose and measuring distances;
    d) Demonstrate a working knowledge of the Canadian buoyage and aids to navigation systems.

Sail Canada Uniform Navigation Standard Terminology:

  1. Course: The direction in which a boat is steered or is intended to be steered (direction through the water). 
  2. Course to steer: Course to steer to counteract current and leeway 
  3. Heading (HDG): The direction in which the boat is pointing in any instant. 
  4. Course To Make Good (CTMG): The course for planning purposes that indicates the intended track from departure to destination. 
  5. Course Made Good (CMG): The single resultant direction from the point of departure to the point of arrival at any given time. 
  6. Line of Position (LOP): A plotted line that the boat is located on at a specific time, which may be based on a distance off, or the bearing of a charted object of known location. 
  7. Speed (S): The speed of the boat through the water. 
  8. Speed Made Good (SMG): The speed of the boat achieved over the CMG line. 
  9. Set (Set): The direction in which the current is flowing. 
  10. Drift (DFT): The speed (in knots) of the current. 
  11. Total Drift: Distance between the DR position and Fix for the same time. 
  12. Symbols, Abbreviations & Labeling:
    a) Headings/ directions: always 3 numbers followed by:
    T= True (default), M= Magnetic, C= Compass
    b) Time: 24 hour clock, ship time used

The above objectives are covered in the Home study Coastal Navigation course.




Bruce Stott
Bruce Stott
President/Chief Instructor
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