Navigation and Chart work - Introduction
An understanding of chart work and the ability to perform any of the navigation processes without having to think about how to achieve the required task is an essential skill for any yacht skipper.
The individual processes of taking and plotting fixes, estimated position, working out the correct course to steer and the height of the tide must be practiced sufficiently so that you do not need to think about how to perform the calculations.
A skilled and experienced yacht navigator should be able to put the vessel's position on the chart or calculate the course to steer in less than a minute. This is only possible if you do not need to think about how to do it and have prepared the information you are likely to need in advance.
At first it may take 15 to 20 minutes to work out the course to steer, especially when you have to work everything from the beginning as is taught in the classroom, but with practice you can learn many short cuts that can drastically lessen the work load and enable you to handle the navigation whilst still running the yacht effectively.
Unfortunately, to know when you can take short cuts and make approximations you need to spend time learning to make the navigation calculations in full so that you fully understand what is happening.
The following examples and exercises use the RYA Training Charts 1 and 2 plus the practice navigation tables which were originally available below from Amazon or the RYA. These are the charts that were previously included in the packs supplied for students of RYA theory courses. (These publications may no longer be available), if you do not have access to them, go to the part of this site which uses the current set of practice charts.
A copy of Symbols and Abbreviations (5011) is an invaluable aid to anyone taking an RYA theory course.