OCSC Sailing School

Coastal Navigation

Description/Overview | Topics Covered | What's Included | Course Schedule

OCSC Coastal Navigator course

OCSC's "Coastal Navigator" course

Our Coastal Navigation course is designed to acquaint you with all the tools, publications and skills required for successful coastal navigation. It also provides you with all the academic and theoretical knowledge you need to develop great navigation skills in the Coastal Passagemaking course. Coastal navigation skills are the underpinning of all safe and efficient distance cruising, whether you're harbor hopping to Mexico or just occasionally out of sight of land because of Bay fog. You will learn not only how to find your way and how to identify and avoid hazards along your route, but also how to minimize the distance you need to travel and maximze your progress toward your destination. In addition, many of the concepts and skills taught in this class are directly transferable to Celestial Navigation as well.

Successful completion prepares you to:

  • Navigate your way along the coast using charts, compass and your own skills.
  • If your GPS stops working, you'll be able to find your way to safe harbor.
  • Successful completion prepares you for Coastal Passagemaking as well as Offshore Passagemaking.

Class Information


  • Member: $446.25
  • Retail: $595

# of students:

  • 12 maximum


  • Classroom Instruction


  • Four Sundays, every other week, for eight weeks
    Two 3-hour classroom sessions 10am - 1pm and 2pm -5pm, every other Sunday plus homework each week.
    (24 hours of classroom instruction)
  • Home Study Option (Please call us for details: 800.223.2984)


Navigation I, II, & Seamanship I & II

Good to know:

  • Coastal Navigation also comes with homework each week. Be sure to budget time for the course and additional time outside of class to stay caught up with the assignments.
  • You will be supported when you do your homework with a wonderful, CD-based, programmed learning tool that will reduce your homework time and be your remote tutor between sessions.

This course prepares you to take the following courses: Coastal Passagemaking

Topics Covered

Here are some of the things you'll learn in our Coastal Navigation course:

  • Deduced reckoning: Known as Ded or Dead Reckoning, this is the 'shorthand' for navigators.
  • Calculating an estimated position: When life isn't perfect and you can't get a three bearing fix.
  • Calculating set and drift: Handling current set and drift is the core of what advanced coastal navigation is about.
  • Interpreting tide and current charts: Know the speed and direction of current and the height of the tide at any given time, any given location.
  • Establishing a running fix: The coastal cruising sailor's life saver.
  • Taking bearings and ranges: The basics -- good bearings make for good fixes.
  • Radar, Loran, GPS and other electronic aids to navigation: They make life easier but they require a certain amount of training to use properly.
  • Using a deck log: Proper Navigation begins and ends with good records. You can't tell where to go unless you remember where you've been!
  • Practical use of navigational publications: A wealth of information exists if you know where and how to look.
  • US Sailing plotting conventions: Learn how to manage charting and logs on a small yacht with conventions that account for small nav tables and charts on laps in the cockpit!

What's Included

Here is a list of the materials that are included in your Coastal Navigation course:

US Sailing's Coastal Navigation text book

The Coastal Navigation text will be sent to you upon registration.

OCSC Coastal Navigation course handout

Homework and excerpts from nautical publications will be distributed on the first day of class.

OCSC Coastal Navigation CD-Rom

A complete set of homework solutions on CD with all plotting problems graphically presented for maximum understanding and easy review of plotting protocols. Also distributed on the first day of class.

The following charts will also be given the first day of class:

  • Chart #18649 "San Francisco Entrance"
  • Chart #18645 "Gulf of Farallones"
  • Chart #18680 "Point Sur to San Francisco"
  • Chart #1210TR -- a training chart. This chart is used for practice and also for the US Sailing test. Upon completion of the exam, this chart is kept by OCSC as part of the official exam paperwork.

Here's what you'll need to purchase:

In addition to the materials OCSC provides, you must have or acquire the following tools and items:

  • Chart # 1 -- "Nautical Chart Symbols, Abbreviations, and Terms"
  • Triangles, Parallel Rules or Course Plotter (Portland plotters are recommended)
  • Dividers (one- or two-handed version – 7” recommended)
  • Pencils (mechanical with 0.5 or 0.7 mm leads are recommended)
  • Erasers (Pentel Clic, or similar soft eraser recommended -- they are kind to charts.)
  • Calculator (capable of Base 6 calculations for time and angles)

All of the above items are available at the OCSC Pro Shop (at a 10 percent discount for club members) and at any marine supply store. If you choose to purchase from us, please call in advance of the course to purchase them so we can ship them to you or have them set aside for you to pick up.



June 2017

Coastal Navigation

  1. Sun, 4th 10:00am Day 4

October 2017

Coastal Navigation

  1. Sun, 8th 10:00am Day 1
  2. Sun, 22nd 10:00am Day 2

November 2017

Coastal Navigation

  1. Sun, 5th 10:00am Day 3
  2. Sun, 19th 10:00am Day 4