CYA Coastal Navigation


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CYA Coastal Navigation

The CYA Coastal Navigation certification is a prerequisite for most bareboat chartering companies on the West Coast of Canada and the Northern U.S. as well as the East coast of Canada and the U.S. where strong currents and high tides are challenging.

Electronic navigation, map over GPS and radar, chart plotters, telephone apps. etc. have changed the way we approach navigation but unfortunately, non of these systems are fail safe. The experienced sailor will never rely solely on electronics for navigation without an alternative back-up system and that's where the skills you learn from coastal navigation are important.

It's not uncommon for GPS blackouts to occur or for the ship's electronics to suddenly shut down due to an onboard power issue. Coastal navigation requires nothing more than a paper chart, a compass, a set of parallel rules and a divider and a watch to enable you to plot a safe passage.

This course builds on water confidence because it enhances your chart reading skills, which are transferable to using electronic charts, but also provides you with the knowledge that if all else fails, you will still be able to navigate your way to safety.


CYA Coastal Navigation topic overview:

  • reading charts (small scale/large scale, Mercator, Polyconic, Gnomonic);
  • compass variance, deviation and converting from degrees True to degrees Magnetic and vise versa;
  • the relationship of time, distance and speed and plotting Dead Reckonings;
  • lines of position (bearings, depth contours, bobbing lights, distance off);
  • estimated position (EP), two point, three point and running fixes;
  • danger bearings;
  • leeway, current set and drift and how to calculate a course to steer to allow for the same;
  • reading tide and current tables and calculating the height of tide or speed of current at any time;

For a complete listing of CYA Coastal Navigation Standards, please see below.

This course is offered as a home study or as an in class course depending the number of students taking the course.

No prerequisites are necessary. Materials required include: parallel rules and divider (offered at cost), geometry set and chart #3463. The text book is included in the course cost and is specific to the CYA coastal navigation course.

For more information please contact us at: 780 499 4295 (Les) or email CYA - Coastal Navigation


CYA - Coastal Navigation
(Standards as set out in the CYA International Log Book)


To be able to demonstrate the navigational theory required to safely navigate a vessel in coastal or inland waters.
The concepts are introduced in the Intermediate Cruising and Power Standards. The Coastal Navigation Standard is applied practically and tested in the Advanced Cruising Standard.

None. You can attain this standard by passing the CYA Coastal Navigation Examination. This is a prerequisite to the Advanced Cruising Standard.

Ashore Knowledge
The candidate must be able to:
1. Explain the chart symbols and conventions on Canadian Hydrographic charts, in accordance with the
terminology of Chart 1.
2. Identify a source of official Canadian government navigation publications.
3. List the publications required for prudent navigation in the local area, including the following minimum
   a) Large scale charts of the area and Chart 1, Symbols, Terms and Abbreviations;
   b) Sailing Directions;
   c) Tide and Current Tables;
   d) Collision Regulations;
   e) Local rules and regulations;
   f) List of Lights, Buoys, and Fog Signals;
   g) Radio Aids to Marine Navigation (if using electronic navigation);
   h) Safe Boating Guide.
4. List the instruments required for prudent navigation in the local area, including the following minimum
   a) Steering compass and deviation table
   b) Hand-bearing compass
   c) Dividers
   d) Protractor, plotter or parallel rule
   e) Watch or clock
   f) Depth sounder or lead line
   g) Log/knot-meter
   h) Pencil/eraser/note book
5. Describe the purpose of Notices to Mariners.
6. Use the Tide and Current Tables to find:
   a) Times and heights of tides at reference and secondary ports;
   b) Direction and rate of current at reference and secondary stations.
7. Convert courses, headings and bearings between true, magnetic, and compass.
8. Check compass deviation by means of a transit bearing.
9. Plot:
  a) A dead reckoning position on a chart, using speed, time, and course through water;
  b) The estimated position allowing for the effect of current and leeway.
10. Determine a heading that counteracts:
  a) Known current;
  b) Leeway.
11. Given the course through water and speed, and two observed positions, determine the current.
12. Determine:
  a) Estimated time of arrival (ETA);
  b) Revised ETA. 12. Determine:
13. Plot a chart position from terrestrial objects, using:12. Determine:
  a) Two or more bearings on different objects taken at one time;
  b) A running fix on one or more objects;12. Determine:
  c) One bearing and a transit range;
  d) One distance (i.e. sounding, or dipping a light) and one bearing.
14. Use correct plotting and labeling procedures.
15. Demonstrate knowledge of passage planning, as follows:
  a) Prepare a plan of a coastal passage of at least 20 miles in three stages;
      i)   An overall plan on a small scale chart;
      ii)  A detailed plan on a large scale chart;
      iii) A departure or arrival plan including tide and current information;
  b) Use transits, lead marks, stern marks, clearing marks, danger/clearing bearings in piloting and passage planning;
  c) Transfer positions between charts using the nearest compass rose and measuring distances;
  d) Demonstrate a working knowledge of the Canadian buoyage and aids to navigation systems.