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


Basic Coastal Navigation Course

The U. S. Coast Guard Auxiliary's Basic Coastal Navigation (BCN) course is a comprehensive course to introduce the advanced boater to the methods 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.

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

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