Electricity and technology have revolutionized the world of navigation. Most recreational boaters have drifted away from the use of maps and compasses. Navigation today is mostly about the use of the latest navigation apps, marine electronics, depth sounders, GPS, multi-function displays, and autopilots. Dependency on these tools that often require electric power can lead to navigation difficulties when there is a power failure or malfunction. Boaters shouldn’t overlook old-fashioned navigation tools. Electronic navigation, while helpful and important, has dramatically changed the art of navigation, leaving our overall boating safety, a little inadequate.

Measures to take in case of power failure

In the instance where only electric power has failed, and the boat itself is in no apparent danger, there is no need to abandon the vessel. Improvising of the equipment and methods of navigation is required. A navigator should carry relevant backup paper charts for use in case of a major system failure.

A spare handheld GPS receiver can come in handy in situations of a power outage, so would paper navigation tables and battery-operated celestial calculators. Stock extra batteries for hand-held devices like GPS receivers and portable VHF radios.

In cases of power failure, a skipper should make proper use of navigation calculators. This tool, like the StarPilot 89T, applies basic principles of navigation and is used in constructing plotting papers with the utilization of a protractor.

A nautical almanac is a book that details astronomical events of the previous year. A nautical almanac refers to the recorded patterns made by the sun and the stars and other celestial bodies.

Along with your first-aid kit, consider carrying a complete navigation kit.  The Weems and Plath Professional Navigation Kit is a good example.

Distress measures to take

In the case of complete electrical systems failure, severe outcomes may result if not properly equipped and trained. The chance of collision or running aground increases significantly. It’s important to take distress measures to notify the coast guard or other nearby vessels of your predicament. They include whistles, flags, blowing horns, popping smoke, bells, and gongs and the EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beam).

How to navigate using a compass and a map

Most people who put faith in electronic devices for navigation tend to overlook these essential tools. Map and compasses have been employed in the world of sailing since long ago. Sailors should purpose to know how to use compasses and maps as they are the most valuable tools. They enable a sailor to determine the MPP (MOST probable position) from which they can find their way to the destination with minimal errors.

Finally, a good navigation course from the Coast Guard Auxiliary or Power Squadron can do wonders for boating confidence in an emergency situation and may save lives.

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