Close

Logging In

not a member? sign-up now!

Signing up could earn you gear and it helps to keep offensive content off of our site.

13 Key Seamanship Skills

13 seamanship skills you should know before leaving the dock.

I highly recommend you plot your position on a paper chart, especially when your electronics are working. How often you do this will depend upon your distance from land and hazards. Once you have your starting point on the chart, you can draw your intended course. Then it's a matter of plotting the distance (D) along the course using speed (S) and the elapsed time (T). Three formulas we all should know are D=ST, S=D/T, and T=D/S. You may want to get kids or grandkids involved in learning this as well. It will keep them busy and help to develop future mariners who know the basics. Next steps: Make sure you have a set of dividers, parallel rules, the correct paper charts, and some sharp pencils.

Easy Steps To Determine Distance-Off

Knowing your distance off land or a navigational aid is helpful. Even for peace of mind. During a passage along the coast of Eleuthera, we passed East End Point. Digging out our hand-bearing compass, I took a bearing on the light when it was 45 degrees off our port bow, maintained course, and then took another bearing when the light was 90 degrees off our port beam. The distance run between the two bearings is equal to the distance offshore. The two legs of the triangle that meet to form the 90-degree angle are equal. So if we traveled 4.2 miles from where the light was at 45 degrees to where it was at 90 degrees, then that point of land is 4.2 miles away. (On my old sailboat, I marked the 45- and 90-degree marks on my lifeline with tape.) Next steps: Include a hand-bearing compass in your navigational tools. They aren't just for racing.