Public Education Course: How to Read a Nautical Chart
How to Read a Nautical Chart is a four hour course that will help you
unravel the mystery of charts.
When navigating on land you use a map. It depicts the various
thoroughfares, their directions and names. Major landmarks such as
parks, lakes etc. are also shown. By identifying with each of these
landmarks and following printed routes, you would be able to reach a
At sea there are no equivalent landmarks, and no routes. And, if you are
far offshore, with no land mass on the horizon, everything looks the
same. For navigating at sea, we use a chart, and we navigate by
reference to what we can see, and often by what we cannot.
Nautical charts give us the "landmarks of the sea" – buoys, markers,
shoreline features, water depth, bottom type, magnetic compass
variation, and the latitude and longitude of these features. By knowing
our latitude and longitude, we can locate our position anywhere on earth.
Charts also warn us of dangerous areas, enabling us to determine safe
passage – if we know how to read the chart and use the information we
This course will provide the navigator with the knowledge to interpret a
chart’s contents to navigate safely to his or her destination and return to
port. Practice chart is included and used with practical problems that are
reviewed as part of the class
Havre de Grace Maritime Museum
100 Lafayette St
Havre de Grace, MD 21078