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Coast Guard Auxiliary

How to Read a Nautical Chart:

Bob Searles"How to Read a Nautical Chart" (HRNC), held over two evenings, unraveling the mystery of charts.

When navigating on land, you use a map. It depicts the various thoroughfares, their directions and names. Major areas such as parks, lakes, etc. would also be noted. By selecting the prescribed route, you would be able to reach a desired destination.

At sea there are no streets, no separate areas, and no differences from abutting or surrounding areas. With no land mass over the horizon, everything looks the same. For navigating at sea, we use a chart.

By knowing our latitude and longitude, we can locate our position anywhere on earth. Navigators must also be warned of dangerous areas, leading them through safe passages and directing them within set patterns to prevent collisions. For this, Aids to Navigation are depicted on nautical charts.

Other available information on nautical charts includes (but is not limited to): depth of water, bottom type, magnetic variations affecting the compass, chart scales, and inter-tidal information.

This course will provide the navigator with the knowledge to interpret the chart's contents to navigate safely to their destination and return to port. Text and training chart included.

"How to Read a Nautical Chart" is offered by USCG Auxiliary Flotilla 12-4, and is open to the public. Students are only responsible for the cost of materials. The course is taught by Flotilla Auxiliarists, and is appropriate for all Boaters.

The class is taught in the beautiful facilities of the Del Rey Yacht Club, located at 13900 Palawan Way in Marina del Rey. Free Parking is available. For more information, contact Jonathan Smaby at 310-972-8930, or by e-mail at The upcoming schedule of classes is as follows:

- HTRNC Tuesdays 7-9:30 PM June 5 & 12 (2 weeks)
HTRNC Tuesdays 7-9:30 PM Nov 13 & 20 (2 weeks)

Cost: $50 (covers cost of materials)
Registration starts at 6:30pm on the first night
Class Starts at 7:00pm

Items you must bring to the class (they can be purchased at most local marine supply stores):

7" Dividers
Dividers have two points (no lead).
12" Parallel Plotter or Ruler
Make sure your ruler or plotter is at least 12" long.

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Coast Guard Auxiliary

12-4, The Los Angeles Flotilla
A unit of Division 12, Eleventh Coast Guard District, Southern Region