When Simon Scott was the CEO of The Moorings about many years ago he told me his greatest concerns about sailing skills regarding the company's boats were anchoring and navigation. Faulty anchoring practices cause damage when dragging boats get tangled with other boats and when they go aground. Faulty navigation can cause grounding, occasionally bad enough to result in the total loss of the boat.
During the last 10 years technological advancements have made both anchoring and navigation easier for bareboat charterers. More mooring buoys in bareboat locations and better windlasses have made anchoring easier. More navigation aids and wide availability of GPS has made navigation easier as well. Even with these advancements, there are still a few losses of boats every year.
As rare as these events are and fortunately, human casualties are even rarer, I would like to offer a few tips to make navigation easier and safer for bareboat charterers. Normal bareboat chartering is limited to daytime sailing and is almost always done within sight of land so navigation under these conditions isn't rocket science. But there are some things you can do to make navigation easier and safer. Following these suggestions will reduce stress and make bareboat cruising more fun as well.
Take an Approved Navigation Course
Make sure your knowledge and skills in coastal navigation are up to standard. Courses that teach to a national (or international) standard are offered by ASA and US Sailing schools, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S.
Power Squadrons. The standards set for these courses generally go beyond what you'll need for bareboat chartering but completion will give you confidence as well as the tools you'll need for successful bareboating.In a typical Coastal Navigation course you can expect to learn to:
* 1. Identify the chart symbols and explain the terms and characteristics used for navigation aids including shapes, colors, and lights used in the buoyage system.
2. Identify sources of official publications.
3. Select publications required for prudent navigation.
* 4. Use various instruments for navigation.
5. Use the tide and current tables to find times and heights of tides at reference and secondary ports and direction and rate of current at reference and secondary stations.
* 6. Convert courses and bearings between true, magnetic, and compass.
7. Check compass deviation.
Plot dead reckoning positions.
* 9. Plot fixes by various means such as bearings, ranges and distance circles.
10. Plot running fixes.
Determine set, drift and leeway.
12. Compensate for the effect of set and drift or leeway.
13. Use danger bearings to determine if a vessel is deviating dangerously from a course.
* These are the skills you should be most prepared to use during bareboat charters. Though not everything is on the list is necessarily required during the average bareboat charter cruise, passing such a course confirms a high level of navigational competence that will give the bareboat charter skipper the greatest confidence.Pay Attention at the Chart Briefing
Listen and ask questions at the chart briefing at the beginning of the charter and use your cruising guide during the charter. The folks at the charter company are going to know a lot more about the local sailing area than anyone else and they want you to have a good time. The chart briefing will provide lots of good suggestions about places to go and will also let you know about places that are off limits to the company's charter boats. Sometimes a "red line" chart is provided to highlight dangerous or off limits areas.
Heed the advice at the chart briefing, especially regarding keeping out of a certain areas..For more information please visit our website at http://www.
spinnakersailing.com. For this article in its entirety including links and photos go to: http://www.spinnakersailing.
com/noframes/charters/navtips.Bob Diamond has been head sailing instructor at Spinnaker Sailing and has been leading group sailing vacations in exotic locations since 1984.
By: Bob Diamond