We have touched on navigation here before as it is an essential sailing school skill to learn, either here at Nanaimo or wherever you are learning to sail. Before we looked at the two fundamental sides to navigation i.e.

- To know exactly where you re at any given moment
- Knowing which way to go in order to best reach your intended destination.

So continuing on from this at sailing school, learning the basics of navigation includes knowledge on certain elements, which are known as Position, Distance, Direction and Time.

Learning these terminologies will make it much easier to learn and understand Navigation much better. So let’s look at the different navigational terms in more detail;

The position of your sailboat can be stated in terms of coordinates of longitude and latitude of an imaginary grid placed on the surface of the earth. You can direct your sailboat to any direction you like once you have determined the exact position that you are in.

This is another very important element of Navigation. Between two points, the length of the straight line that connects them is what we call Distance. In navigational terms this distance is measured in terms of nautical miles. This is the unit of distance at sea which is equivalent to 1852 metres (known as the international nautical mile). Likewise a nautical mile is also defined as one minute of latitude (1’).

This navigational element can be described as the spatial relation between your sailboat or vessel and the course or path along which it is moving. It is usually measured according to the angular distance of the vessel from true or magnetic north. (referenced direction)

True North – is the direction you need to travel in, in order to reach the top of the globe or the North Pole.

Magnetic North – is the direction of the magnetic North Pole, the direction that a compass points at or the point that a magnetic compass determines where North lies.

In terms of sailing and navigation terms, Time refers to the hour of the day in relation to a line of longitude.

Other navigational terminologies used at sailing school

* Piloting or Pilotage* – this is the way that you navigate either visually or electronically, where you will use compass or charts to determine your sailboats position.

Dead Reckoning

* Knot* – Used to describe the unit of speed at sea – one nautical mile/hour is one knot.

* Bearing* – the direction of an object or point from the sailboat.

* Heading* – This is the direction to which you are maneuvering or directing your sailboat towards.

So there are many navigational elements and terms to learn as part of the sailing school skills you need to understand, and whilst it can all sound a bit technical and difficult to start with, once you understand the basics of navigation it will become easier as you gain more and more sailing experience and confidence.