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Navigation & Seamanship

Good seamanship skills are essential for staying safe on the water. Navigational skills will help get you from here to there safely and efficiently. Learn too how to be prepared for difficult conditions and what to do if an emergency strikes.
  1. Best Sailing Boating Apps (57)
  2. Boating and Sailing Safety (12)
  3. Preventing and Coping with Emergencies (13)

Free Boating Navigation and Weather Products
Quite a number of free software programs, apps, and informational websites are available for sailors and boaters, including charts and chartplotters, weather and tide apps, and other useful boating applications. Read this article to learn about freebies you may be missing!

Essential Sailing Knots
Because sailing involves many lines (ropes) that you need to tie in various ways for different uses, it is important to know a few basic knots when learning to sail. Here are step-by-step directions for tying a cleat hitch, bowline, clove hitch, and other essential sailing knots.

Storms and Thunderstorms: Radar Detection and Sailboat Storm Tactics
Storms and thunderstorms are serious dangers for sailors both near-shore and offshore. Learn how to know when a storm is coming, how to use radar apps, and how to prepare for storm tactics.

Seasickness Prevention and Cure
About 90% of people will experience seasickness or motion sickness at some point in their lives. If you're new to sailing, or have ever experienced nausea or dizziness on a boat, it's worthwhile to take steps early to prevent seasickness. Once seasickness occurs, it's too late to do much more than cope with it as best you can.

Basic Navigation with a Chartplotter
Navigation with either a marine chartplotter or a computer running navigational software makes it easy to know where you are and get where you're going. Because of many differences among systems, consider the benefits and drawbacks before choosing the right system for your boat.

How to Anchor a Sailboat
Good sailboat anchoring technique is crucial for safety. If the anchor drags because it was not properly set or because insufficient scope was used, the sailboat may go ashore or strike another boat or other hazard. Follow these guidelines to help ensure your boat is safely anchored so you can get a good night’s sleep.

Weather Data from NOAA Buoys
You should know current weather conditions before and while sailing. U.S. coastal sailors can check the NOAA National Data Buoy Center web site for current information from automated buoy reports, including wind speed and direction, air pressure and changes, wave height, and more. Once underway, without an Internet connection, you can obtain...

Rules of the Road for Sailboats
As part of good seamanship, the captains of sailboats, powerboats, and all other vessels must clearly understand the Rules of the Road, the term for U.S. regulations regarding which boat has right of way over another boat in different situations. Here are the rules for sailboats when under sail or under power.

Best Sailing Books
Lists and reviews of the best books about sailing, including both how-to manuals and sailing narratives and novels.

Heavy Weather Sailing
With high winds and big waves, you need special storm tactics for a sailboat. Learn about them here.

Nautical Charts: Raster vs. Vector Charts
Before you select a navigation program or charting app, consider the differences between raster and vector nautical charts. Each format has certain strengths and weaknesses.

Understanding Aids to Navigation
Navigational aids such as buoys, nuns, and cans mark channels and underwater obstructions. TO be safe on the water you need to understand the meaning of aids that you see in the water or on your chart. Learn the basics here.

Test Your Knowledge of Navigational Aids
Sailors and other boaters must understand navigational aids to stay safe underway. Take this fun quiz to test your knowledge of common buoys, daymarks, and other markers.

Nautical Quizzes for Sailors
Have some fun with some nautical quizzes while you test your knowledge of sailing essentials!

How to Retrieve an Anchor
Follow these steps to safely and easily retrieve your sailboat's anchor without problems.

How to Dock a Sailboat Under Sail
Learn how to dock your sailboat under sail only - before you one day have to!

How to Steer a Sailboat in a Current
To stay safe and sail your course efficiently, you need to compensate for the set of set when steering your boat. Learn how to determine the set of a current and how to plot your course efficiently.

How to Use a Chartplotter Route
The use of waypoints and routes on a chartplotter or charting app makes route planning and course steering easy. Learn how here.

How to Read the Wind When Sailing
The more you learn about how to read the wind when sailing, the better and faster sailor you'll be.

How to Navigate with a Depthfinder
Don't trust that your chartplotter or app will always be there for you. Learn how to determine your position and navigate with only a chart and a depthfinder.

How to Rescue a Man Overboard in a Sailboat
A man overboard (MOB), also called crew overboard (COB) or person overboard (POB), is a very serious boating emergency. Most boating deaths result from falling overboard. Sailors should know how to quickly return under sail to a person overboard in the water and stop the sailboat beside the person for recovery. Here are step-by-step descriptions...

What If Someone Falls Overboard?
A good sailor is always prepared in case something goes wrong, like someone suddenly falling overboard when you’re underway. Would you know instantly what to do in every possible circumstance if this happened to you?

What If Your Engine Dies at a Bad Time?
A good sailor is always prepared in case something goes wrong, like the engine suddenly dying when you’re motoring through a crowded harbor or channel. Would you know instantly what to do in every possible circumstance if this happened to you?

Essential Training for a Sailing Partner or Crew

Review of Boater's Pocket Reference App
The Boater's Pocket Reference app has lots of practical information for sailors. Read the review here to see if it's right for your needs.

The Basics of Navigation
To stay safe on the water, sailors and other boaters need to understand how to navigate using traditional paper charts or a chartplotter or charting app. Learn the basics here.

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