Ashore - Things about 'Afloat' that you need to know before leaving dry land.
This section is a collection of on-line resources relevant to Day and Coastal Skipper courses, with additional information beyond the limits of those courses.
My tuppence-worth is that you should try to attend a formal shore-based course if at all possible. Planning a passage like Dover to Boulogne could be done out of a set of textbooks on the kitchen table, but it's very useful to be able to run your theory past the eyes of someone who's actually done it on the water. There are a few subtleties (and a few things not-so-subtle) which might not jump out of a book at you. My experience of the courses was that time could always be made for a one-on-one to clarify or expand on the topics being covered.
Day Skipper Course material from Motor Boats Monthly. Everthing bar the basic sails for yachties. http://www.motorboatsmonthly.co.uk/mby/dskip/day1b.htm
Colin Walls teaches the RYA shorebased coastal skipper/yachtmaster course. His slides for the course are available for "anyone who wants them" at http://www.murorum.demon.co.uk/sailing/
International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea , Collregs, Rules of the Road, ..
A plain English guide to the Rules of the Road is at http://www.tecc.co.uk/marine/mbm/rule/intro.htmlTexts of the IRPCS are available online at http://www.glenans-ireland.com/Resources/colregs.htm.
More animations of various light combinations are available at http://www.sailnet.com/collections/learningtosail/rules/start.htm
Memory AidsDefinitions and Mnemonics for Sailors and Powerboaters at http://fmg-www.cs.ucla.edu/fmg-members/geoff/mnemonics.html
There's a free online course at http://www.sailingissues.com/navcourse0.html
It's the very best that I have come across. Navigation and tides are coved to an advanced level.
Animations of common knots at http://www.mistral.co.uk/42brghtn/knots/42ktmenu.htmlMore than you ever wanted to know about knotting in general at http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/knotlink.htm
The Meteorological Service of Canada site includes a : photograph from a ship at sea for each point on the scale
Basic 'First Aid at Sea' at http://www.mpconline.com/marinersinfo/marinerinfo/firstaid.html
The graphics in the Marine Battery primer at http://boatsafe.com/nauticalknowhow/marine_battery.htm are slow-loading, but worth the wait if you are unfamiliar with battery technology.
There's extensive information in the Marine Electrical Check List at http://www.islandnet.com/robb/marine.html
VHF & GMDSS
I'll have to take some time to hunt more informative VHF links. These below were some I found in a hurry just before my VHF exam.
Aside - My 7-year-old daughter helped my studies by testing me on the phonetic letters. We had only done a few iterations through the alphabet when I noticed that she had stopped using the book to check my answers. Makes one feel old!
The Radiocommunications Agency control the UK radio spectrum.
See http://www.ncf.carleton.ca/boating/vhfcall.html for an example of a VHF call. The rest of that site is Canadian-centric, but global agreements mean that we have much in common.
Global Maritime Distress and Safety System: The GMDSS Examination page at http://members.aol.com/ab0di/ gives a good picture of the culture that yachties are heading into in pursuit of VHF certification.
News as at May 1st, 2000
Get the horse's story from the horse's mouth ( the Interagency GPS Executive Board )
GPS ?? I've worked with computers since they had valves. I still wouldn't trust my life to one. So keep traditional navigation skills as your primary method. Your battery or a flaky GPS set may kill you long before the military makes you unsure of your position.
The last bit of this little story might be useful. Even with a fully-functioning GPS, you might still kill yourself.
The Global Positioning Systems (GPS) Resource Library - Yale University http://www.gpsy.com/gpsinfo/index.html says:
"This is a page of links containing information about the Global Positioning System (GPS) and handheld GPS units. There are links to other GPS information sites, online Internet Mapping Programs, GIS (Geographic Information Services), Grid Overlays, DGPS, GPS resellers, GPS manufacturers, Radio modems for GPS use, and the Year 2000 (Non) Problem."
Meanings of International Maritime Signal Flags at http://www.anbg.gov.au/flags/signal-meaning.html
There are people who know a great deal but who are not good at explaining it. There are people who are sort of opposite. There are those in between.
Those of us with a dinghy sailing background have an advantage over others starting on cruisers. The Racing Basics at http://www.uiowa.edu/~sail/skills/racing_basics/ will help people catch up. Chapter.2 of this online document has a good description of how sails work and how they can be tuned.
This site : http://www.northsails.co.uk/media/articles.asp includes two "Fast Courses" for main and genoa. It's the best online beginner's guide I've found on sail trim. 'Best' in that it uses animations to illustrate the points. (I'm a sucker for useful uses of 'kewl'). It uses the Flash plugin for the interative animations, which allow you to play with sail controls and see the effects.
The Neil Pryde Sails Owners Manual has some good information on sail trim at http://www.paw.com/sail/neilpryde/manual/trim.htm See the internal links within that site for more information on rig tuning and terminology.
More than you ever wanted to know about sails, sail trim and tuning at http://www.uksailmakers.com/encyclopedia.html
Bill Gladstone has three chapters of his book on Performance Racing Trim online at sfsailing.com. I came across them while looking for online info on Genoa Trimming. The chapters are worth reading even if you are not interested in racing.
There used to 7 chapters online. You'll have to buy the dead tree version now.
"Sailing - is that moment when you turn the bloody engine off" - Me
It's the modern age. Marinas and everyone-in-a-hurry have made engines excessively useful.
An online version of "Sailing by E.F Knight" at http://arthur-ransome.org/AR/literary/knight.htm should probably be a bible for those interested in classic boats. It's still a good book for anyone who wants to learn about sailing. As a matter of opinion, it would stand up well as the only reference material for Day/Coastal Skipper. Read the sections on Mercator's Projection or anchoring, for example, and see if the standard texts do as well after over a hundred years of reflection.