Navigating By the Stars


I’ve always wanted to continue my Yachtmaster education by learning celestial navigation. Lindsay and I got our RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Certifications in 2009 together in Cowes, Isle of Wight, England. It was challenging and very fun to do together.

Yachtmaster training is complete, we passed!
Yachtmaster training is complete, we passed!

It landed us a job in Belize in the end, but that’s a story in the archives now. Anyway, after that I was just sure that we would quickly get certified as RYA OCEAN YACHTMASTERS.

The RYA Yachtmaster Ocean Certificate has three parts:

1) THEORY – The RYA Certificate of completion is given after 40 hours of theory and written exam. This can be done online nowadays!

yachtmaster ocean theory

2) PRACTICE – An 800 nm journey offshore in a specified manner, in control of the vessel, successfully using celestial navigation along the way. Maybe we can incorporate this on a TALLSHIP vacation. Maybe, I’m still researching this.

yachtmaster ocean practical

3) EXAM – The Yachtmaster Ocean exam is an oral and written test of the knowledge of ocean passage making including planning, navigation, worldwide meteorology, crew management, yacht preparation, maintenance and repairs. We will also be questioned on sights taken at sea during an ocean passage.

yachtmaster ocean examination

This part can be pretty tense. The examiner is under no obligation to certify anyone, just because they paid for it and went through the steps. The applicant must instill confidence in the examiner, enough so that they would trust you with their family’s lives. That a lot of trust!

I thought it would be a good idea to put significant pressure on myself and confidently ordered business cards with the RYA Ocean Yachtmaster certification already listed.  But running the dive shop became more important. Three years later we are still not certified. I’m feeling the pressure now!

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So in order to make this thing happen, three years ago I went ahead and ordered a beginners sextant, which is used to “make sightings” but I have no concept of what I am looking for. I needed to study first. That’s what books are supposed to teach us, right?

Tadd’s not sure how to use this sextant thingy.

Here is the book that RYA recommends to read before starting the five day course. I’ve tried to read this book more than five times, with serious intent. I don’t think it’s written in a way that I learn. I THINK I GET IT UNTIL I HAVE TO ACTUALLY SOLVE A PROBLEM. Then I realize I’m crap at it.

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So I stopped trying. It seems appropriate that most of it has molded and the pages are ruined now.

photo 1

So today, Christmas day, I’m giving myself the gift of renewed enthusiasm and signing up for the online course to getting started again.

Yo ho ho, sextant, azimuth, rhumb.