The New Inland Navigation Rules

What you need to know about the recent change to the US Inland Navigation Rules  (published September 2015) Last year about this time, the USCG changed the US Inland Navigation Rules and their Annexes. These are the rules that apply inside most point-to-point lines across coastal bays or inlets leading

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The National Digital Forecast Database

(published July 2015) The primary method of weather routing underway these days is based on vector wind forecasts in GRIB format displayed in echart navigation programs. Navigators who do not display the data directly in an echart program still use this data viewed in separate GRIB viewer software. One popular

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Marine Weather Services Charts-How to Make Your Own

(published May 2015) For many years the National Weather Service (NWS) published Marine Weather Services Charts (MSC) that listed crucial information for mariners using their services. There were fifteen charts that spanned all U.S. waters. The page size was 13- by 21-inches, printed both sides, with an annotated great-circle chart

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Don’t Blame eCharts for Anything

What the grounding of the Team Vestas Wind boat in the Volvo Ocean Race reminds us about our own navigation  (published January 2015) We have long taught at Starpath School of Navigation that we should never blame echarts for anything that goes wrong. This is a fundamentally important rule that

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Sailing Smart

Understanding the most important book in navigation  (published November 2014)Recent maritime news brings us back to the Navigation Rules. We tend to think of these Rules as the guideline to preventing collisions between vessels—in fact, the document is a product of the 1972 Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing

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Rotary Currents

Learn the nuances of these currents to help in your coastal navigation  (published September 2014) Most tidal currents we deal with on inland waters are reversing currents. That is, from slack water the current builds in the ebb direction to a peak value, on average about three hours later, then

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Hawaii by Sextant

How to learn and practice celestial navigation using data from a 2,800 mile ocean passage  (published May 2014) Most blue water sailors think about learning celestial navigation (cel nav) at some point. Many pursue it so they can navigate on their own if they need to. They do, after all,

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ECS without GPS

How to use your electronic charting system for navigation, even if your GPS fails  (published March 2014) We might assume an electronic charting system (ECS) is only useful if we have a GPS connected to it so we can track our boat across the chart. But the GPS is just

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Limitations of GPS

Why we should learn to navigate  (published January 2014) If you rely solely on GPS to navigate in the fog, you will not know if it was right until the fog lifts, or until some other, maybe abrupt, event lets you know. This is just as true navigating under clear

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New Developments in Nautical Chart Distribution

(published December 2013) NOAA recently announced that the U.S. government is discontinuing printing of the traditional lithographic paper charts in April, 2014. The reasons given include the popularity of e-charts, and more to the point, the NOAA print on-demand (POD) paper charts have now gained wide acceptance. Agents who can

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