U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 05-03 - 8th Eastern District


Advanced Coastal Navigation HandbookAdvanced Coastal Navigation

The U. S. Coast Guard Auxiliary's Advanced Coastal Navigation (ACN) course is a comprehensive course to prepare the advanced boater with the knowledge needed to safely pilot a boat.

Topics include:

  • INTRODUCTION TO COASTAL NAVIGATION -- course overview; names and definitions of various types of navigation; steps of voyage planning and underway navigation; earth's coordinate system and its use to specify location; how direction can be measured on the surface; conversion of direction (true, magnetic, compass and relative) to another.
  • THE MARINE MAGNETIC COMPASS -- parts and principle of operation of the marine magnetic compass; concept of deviation and distinctions between compass north, magnetic north, and true north; "swinging ship" and deviation table preparation; rapidly and reliably solving TVMDC and/or CDMVT computations
  • THE NAUTICAL CHART -- characteristics of nautical charts, particularly Mercator and polyconic projections; plotting positions in terms of latitude and longitude; various chart types/scales and their appropriate uses; basic knowledge of chart symbols; rapid and reliable measurement of direction, distance, and location on Mercator and polyconic nautical charts.
  • THE NAVIGATOR'S TOOLS AND INSTRUMENTS -- navigator tools used in everyday practice; basic skills and familiarity with the use of plotting instruments; use of other instruments and equipment used in the practice of navigation.
  • DEAD RECKONING -- working knowledge of dead reckoning methods including plotting, labeling, measuring, and determining DR positions; speed, time, distance formulas and problem solving; speed estimation, tachometers and speed curves.
  • PILOTING -- Line of Position (LOP) concepts; bearing use in LOPs; running fix by advancing or retiring an LOP; danger bearings; estimated positions when the data are lacking for a FIX.
  • CURRENT SAILING -- understanding current and the motion of the vessel; current problems on both the nautical chart and maneuvering board including determination of EP given set and drift, course steered, and speed maintained; determination of actual set and drift given course steered, speed maintained, and a FIX; determination of course to steer and resultant SOA given set and drift and intended track; determination of course to steer and speed to maintain given specified track and speed of advance and current set and drift.
  • TIDES AND TIDAL CURRENTS -- understanding tidal phenomena, causes, and typical variations; appreciate the practical reasons why tides are important to the mariner; know how to use the Tide Tables to estimate the height of the tide at any time; know how to use the Tidal Current Tables to estimate the strength and direction of the current at any time.
  • RADIONAVIGATION -- understanding the basics of RDF, Loran-C, Radar, and GPS, their respective advantages, disadvantages, limitations and how they can be used to fix position; radar use for collision- avoidance CPA and target course and speed.
  • NAVIGATION REFERENCE PUBLICATIONS -- Acquaintance with the U.S. Coast Pilot, the Light List, and the Notices to Mariners; computation of visibility of lights given height of light, observer, prevailing visibility and nominal ranges; importance of up-to-date charts and other publications.
  • FUEL AND VOYAGE PLANNING -- Understand the basics of fuel planning, including the definitions of fuel efficiency, fuel reserves, endurance, and range; fuel consumption affects of such factors as hull design, engine horsepower, throttle settings, condition of bottom etc.; developing a fuel consumption curve; effects of current in fuel planning; preparing and using a "Howgozit" chart for a voyage.
  • REFLECTIONS -- Examples of 10 principles of navigation learned the hard way.

Individuals who successfully complete the course and exam are awarded certificates.

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