C H A R T S   &   N A V I G A T I O N A L   A I D S

Chapter 3 Charts and Navigational Aids

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This chapter introduces charts, and tells the reader how to find their way around them and use them.

It explains the major symbols that the yachtsman needs to learn, and tells you where to find more - definitive - information, such as the "chart" 5011 (actually a booklet).

It also covers navigational aids: buoys and lights, explained here because they are marked on charts.

The sections cover:

a) purpose of charts; who publishes them; corrections; different scales and projections

b) main features of UK admiralty charts; principles governing the information provided (safety for surface craft); categories of information provided; major symbols you need to learn, with explanations; where to find the meaning of all the other symbols (some of them less relevant for Day Skippers and Coastal Skippers)

d) nav aids, cardinal and lateral buoyage, navigational lights and their characteristics, sounds

e) glossary


In Chapter 1 you learned the principles of navigation on a "blank chart" - a piece of paper with no information printed on it other than latitude scales on the sides, and longitude scales at top and bottom. Chapter 2 (Tides) then started to explain the water depth information that is printed on charts, which is one of their most useful functions.

The next stage is to fill in the gaps in this picture and explain the other information that charts give you, that is useful for navigation and pilotage.

There are many types of charts, published all over the world, but the main principles of charts and the information they contain, are pretty universal. In this chapter we learn about UK Admiralty Charts, because they provide tremendous coverage to a very high standard. We also recommend that you buy a particular Admiralty chart for our question paper.

Once you have learned on the Admiralty charts, you will find it pretty easy to convert to the specialist Yachting charts published by Imray, or to other charts available for your region. Although the colours and symbols may be different, the principles are the same.

It is assumed that by the time you get to this chapter, you have read Chapter 1 and Chapter 2. The information they contain about charts is not repeated in this chapter.