NAVIGATION: Piloting Small Boats

Learning small craft navigation techniques for use on ocean coasts, lakes, and rivers
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Instructed by Larry Prucha Lifestyle / Travel
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  • Lectures 24
  • Length 1.5 hours
  • Skill Level All Levels
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
    30 day money back guarantee!
    Available on iOS and Android
    Certificate of Completion
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About This Course

Published 9/2015 English

Course Description

Navigation: Piloting Small Boats

As a Naval Officer I learned a navigation protocol that says do not rely on one method of navigation. So that would mean we should not rely heavily only on our GPS devices. Let's look at a couple of scenarios.

Scenario 1: You are just starting out in boating. Maybe you are a little unsure how to navigate to a port a short distance away and you plan on using your GPS to get there. You don't plan on using a paper chart since a chart is loaded onto your GPS. The problem with this scenario is that you are depending 100% on your GPS to get where you want go. If the GPS fails you will be in a dilemma. Once you leave port it is difficult to look at a surrounding shore line to determine your position.

Scenario 2: Maybe you have many years of boating experience. You plan to go to a destination in Open Ocean that is 30 NM away. You plan to use your GPS to navigate all the way. You do have charts and probably have them open on your navigation table, but you haven't been using the charts to correlate and verify your position with the GPS. You may have a very good idea where you are on the chart, but if the GPS batteries die, you are stuck with getting your positon updated on the chart.

In this course I will show you how to plot a course to your destination. Take the Lat/Long coordinates from your GPS and mark them on your plot. Take sights on landmarks to confirm your location on the plot. Use depth sounder data to confirm your position. Be able to dead reckon your progress on the plot.

The course will use charts from the New England coast. The skills I will show you will be easily adaptable to lakes and rivers of the USA and also to other international waters of the world. I will mention areas where differences may be an issue.

What are the requirements?

  • No special skills are required
  • Students will need to acquire navigation tools (dividers, compass, protractor, parallel ruler) at a marine store

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Pilot a small boat on coastal waters, lakes or rivers
  • Use navigational tools
  • Read Charts
  • Plan a route
  • Plot a position on a route
  • How to be safe while boating

Who is the target audience?

  • Any one needing navigation skills for small boats on open water

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: Small Boat Navigation

Introduction to the course and instructor.


Course objectives and outline.

Section 2: CHARTS - Underwater

Outline of how underwater features are described in charts.


Walking through Woods Hole describing the under water features. Also describing danger areas.

Section 3: CHARTS - Sign Posts

Description of shore side features and description of buoys marking channels and danger areas.


Walking through Woods Hole again describing features along the shore. Also describing buoyage and approaches to the hole. Again danger areas are highlighted.


Description of the different types of buoys and how they are used.

See attached CoastGuard 486 that has lots of additional decsriptions.


Description of how buoys are used to mark channels and show safe and dangerous areas.


Description of complex channels showing day time and night time considerations.


Description of Safe Water, Regulatory and other types of buoys.

  • A wrap up of other chart artifacts and chart organization.
  • See attachment that has descriptions of additional resources and where to obtain them.
3 questions

Quiz on charts usage

Section 4: Navigation Tools

General description of the tools and usage to be described in the section.

  • More description of using magnetic variation and deviation.
  • There are several attachments that show how to calibrate your compass using various methods. These were obtained from the Ritchie Compass Co (with permission).
  • Attached also is a description of the adjustments to a compass from Ritchie Compass Co (with permission).
  • Note the difference between calibrating your compass and creating a compass deviation chart described in the video.

How to create an engine speed chart if a knot meter is not available.


Identifing the navigation tools.


To begin a list of tools and then a demonstration of how to use them.


Using dividers to measure distance on chart plot.

Navigation Tools
3 questions
Section 5: Piloting – Planning and Notation
  1. How to plan a course and layout a plot.
  2. How to account for currents and use them to advantage.
  3. This video shows how to do a detailed plot plan.

  1. Learning and using Navigation notation.
  2. Attachment: Chart from Newport RI to Cuttyhunk MA.
  3. Piloting along shore attachment from ELDRIDGE (with permission).
  4. Demonstration of fix, estimated position, dead reckoning and bearing line.
Section 6: Piloting - Point to Point
  • This video demonstrates a typical course run down a plot.
  • Includes showing dead reckoning "DR", getting a fix, sighting nav aids to get a fix.
  • Added comments about the course run on the plot.
  • There are several added comments to clarify the plot in this video.
3 questions
Section 7: Safety Essentials
  • Describes usage of rules of the road and navigation lighting systems.
  • Coast Guard Nav Rules
  • I could not attach the above link. It has a lot of great Nav information.
  • See attached Rules of the Road from ELDRIGE (with permission). As mentioned in the video.
  • Description of must have essential safety items.
  • This is a long list but I would not go out on a boat for an afternoon without them.
  • Weather precautions and responsibilities to crew.
Safety and Rules of the Road
3 questions
Section 8: Wrap Up

Course wrap up. Descibes NAV AIDs and using your smart phone as a GPS.

Course Summary and Request for course comments.

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Instructor Biography

Larry Prucha, SW Engineer at Udemy

Larry Prucha is an adjunct professor of Electronics and Computer Sciences, with 25+ years experience instructing undergraduate and executive certification programs in online, group and individual programs. Larry's instructional experience includes acting director of the Wentworth Technical School, an evening instructor at ITT, and has taught with Fisher College and Mount Wachusett Community College. He has an infectious enthusiasm for technology.

Professionally, Larry Prucha is an Senior Software Consultant who has consulted for Fortune 500 companies such as EMC, Mercury Computer Systems, HP. Larry has 40 years' experience developing diagnostics and system exercisers. Larry first became a Perl enthusiast as an SQA Engineer. He has 15+ years' as a Perl developer. Larry uses Perl to create test harnesses and drive automated testing of hardware and software.

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