Classroom Introduction to Navigation


How do we plan our trips? What would you do if the fog rolls in while you are paddling? If you’re planning trips on the ocean, a complete understanding of navigation is essential for both safety and fun.

This two-and-a-half-hour classroom session covers the fundamentals of reading nautical charts, working with a compass, and dead reckoning. We then integrate that information with important components of trip planning, like the use of tide and current tables, route planning, and assessment of weather.

This is a hands-on course where each student will have the opportunity to practice these skills in the classroom before they venture into the field. Be sure to follow up this class with our Ocean Skills: Navigation trip, where you can test your skills on the water under the guidance of an expert paddler.

On Water Ocean Skills: Navigation

Learn how to use a chart and compass so you can plan your own trips and find your way on the ocean. Get real life experiences finding your way in the Ocean.

The bread and butter of this trip is chart reading and compass work. We will begin with a refresher on nautical charts and using a compass. Students will then use the chart and compass on the water to determine their location, plot a course, and avoid hazards while underway. We will discuss piloting, dead reckoning, navigating in fog, and what to do if you’re lost.

In addition, we will discuss how to predict tides and currents using tide and tidal current tables, the effects of wind and waves on kayakers and how to plan your trips to decrease these effects, planning escape routes in case of emergency, and using a chart to select a landing site.

This clinic is designed for those who have taken both our Ocean Skills and our Introduction to Navigation (or have the equivalent experience). Paddlers should be able to perform assisted rescues and paddle six miles over the course of the day. We’ll also do plenty of paddling between our instructional sessions. The trip is held at a number of locations, including Gloucester, Marblehead, and Cohasset, and the location of your trip will be decided by the guide depending on weather and tide.

Introduction to Navigation meets for one 2.5-hour classroom session at our Waltham Paddle Shop.
$30 includes 2.5 hours of classroom instruction and all required materials.
$19 with enrollment in another class or trip in the same year.
view schedule/book now

Ocean Skills: Navigation Full-Day Trip meets at our Waltham Paddle Shop and travels by van to the day's destination. We plan to return to Waltham approximately 9 hours after the trip departs.
$139 includes full-day trip with expert guiding (max. 5:1 student:instructor ratio) using your own boat.
$155 with a composite or plastic sea kayak (model depends on availability).
Pre-Requisites & Requirements:Before signing up, you must have:

  • Formal instruction in bracing and rescue skills on the ocean, like our Ocean Skills or equivalent.
  • Formal navigation instruction, like our Introduction to Navigation classroom session, is recommended but not required.
  • Previous practice of a wet exit, where you flipped a kayak, removed the sprayskirt, and exited the kayak while underwater.
  • Previous practice of an assisted rescue, where you wet-exited the kayak in deep water and were rescued by another kayaker.
  • Ability to paddle 6 miles in an outing.

view schedule/book now

Charles River Canoe & Kayak Operates in Cooperation with...