Ocean Navigation: A Few Helpful Instruments

If you truly want to learn how to navigate a power boat or sailboat, there are plenty of skills you will need to learn and a great deal of terminology. Learning how to use a variety of navigational instruments also will be an essential part of your education. There are many modern and ancient navigational tools that are important for all sailors to be able to use.

For instance, many boats are equipped with electronic navigational aids such as radar, sonar and depth finders. These are all excellent pieces of equipment, but you do need to learn how to use all of these devices before you start solo navigating without an experienced sailor. Fortunately, these aren’t difficult devices to learn how to use. You obviously will need to have a marine radio, as well and learn about emergency communication.

Even if you plan to enjoy only short trips around your immediate area, it is smart to invest in some marine maps. These can be helpful tools and eventually, once you start making longer treks, maps are extremely important. In addition to maps and electronic devices, all of which can help you navigate, there are plenty of navigational devices that require no electricity and can still be very helpful. After all, electrical systems can fail, but a device that needs no electricity can still be used to help you navigate and stay safe.

For hundreds of years, the alidade has help sailors with navigation. The alidade is an optical instrument and it used to make measurements in reference to any object in the distance. Calculating the distance between your ship and another ship or perhaps another object can be very helpful. In fact, the alidade is still used today on huge container ships and navy vessels. These huge ships often have mounted theodolites that include a sextant and alidade or perhaps they will have a telescopic marine alidade. When it comes to a sextant, this is a helpful tool if you need to navigate using objects in the night sky, which is something sailors have been doing for centuries.

You probably haven’t used a protractor since your high school geometry class, but a three-arm protractor is a very handy navigational instrument. This helps you map your course, Rather than simply relying on electronic instruments, it is a good idea to plot your course during a longer journey simply to ensure your safety in case of electrical failure. It’s also wise to buy instruments such as binoculars and a surveyor’s compass to further help with navigation.

Other equipment that you will need, and typically is required by law, includes life jackets and these need to be Coast Guard-approved life jackets. Throwable floatation devices are another important piece of safety equipment. You also will need distress flags, an electric distress light, pyrotechnic visual distress signals and fire extinguishers. Again, these all need to be approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. If you will be in the waters of another country, be sure you study up on their regulations, as well.

Carey Bourdier enjoys blogging reviews on precision scientific instruments. For more info about navigation instruments like a propeller protractor, or to find other surveying instruments, check out the Warren Knight website now.