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    Estimated to be about 30 hours of your time, depending on how much optional material you wish to cover. You work at your own pace on your own schedule. See extended discussion of this in the Frequently Asked Questions.


    You can start at any time, and submit quizzes and discussion any time of day or night. The lesson quizzes must be submitted sequentially. You have one year to complete the course, or request an extension.

Course description

    This course covers all aspects of practical small craft navigation, starting from the very basics and ending with all you need to safely and efficiently navigate on inland and coastal waters. This online version is a hybrid of our Home Study Course and our Classroom Course. To read more about these, please see also the Frequently Asked Questions about the Inland and Coastal course.


How the course works

    Please read the general description of How the Courses work. Those notes apply to all courses. You can sign up for a course anytime the enrollment is open. If the course has already begun, you can still join, but will need to submit the quizzes sequentially.

    The course does progressively build on previous lessons to some extent, though perhaps less so in this course than in others. This is more a set of individual topics, covered completely in each section. Nevertheless, quizzes must be submitted sequentially, which puts some limit on how late one might be able to join and still get the benefit of individually graded quizzes. If you have questions about the course that are not answered here, please send an email to starpath.


    There are no prerequisites for this Course. Even the basics of how to use standard plotting tools (parallel rulers and dividers) are covered in detail. There are no math requirements other than addition and subtraction of angles and time, and we review that as well, as needed.

Student Objectives

  • Be able to read nautical charts and plot accurate positions and courses
  • Know how to use the basic resources of Coast Pilot, Light List, and Chart No 1
  • Be able to carry out speed-time-distance calculations and related dead reckoning
  • Be able to carry out and evaluate basic piloting techniques
  • Know how to predict tides and currents and correct courses and plotting accordingly
  • Understand how to combine GPS with traditional navigation skills
  • Understand navigation light characteristic and predict their visible ranges
  • Understand depth sounding navigation
  • Understand the basic Navigation Rules and how to apply them
  • Be able to plan a voyage taking into account all navigational matters


    This course will prepare you for the certification tests offered from most organizations. Please see our Notes on Certification.