Nav dividers

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Welcome to LearnToCruiseOnline’s Basic Coastal Navigation Module!


Basic Coastal Navigation provides the knowledge and skills that any skipper of a recreational boat should know before leaving familiar waters.  Whether you plan to use modern electronics or traditional navigation techniques, there is a core set of knowledge and skills that will help make you a safe and prudent navigator.

Our Basic course covers all the requirements defined in Sail Canada’s Basic Coastal Navigation standard (see,_February_1_2017_effective.pdf). Graduates of our course are certified according to this standard, which is a prerequisite for Intermediate (or bareboat) Cruising, and for going on to learn more in-depth knowledge and skills in Intermediate Coastal Navigation.

In addition, since almost everyone now has a GPS built into their smartphone or tablet, Learn to Cruise Online supplements these core requirements with enhanced content particularly focused on the use of mobile devices in marine navigation.

Approach and Materials

Our approach to Coastal Navigation supports aspiring navigators through a unique combination of online and traditional learning / instructing approaches. Course materials include:

  • A detailed text and accompanying exercises, authored by Jamie Gordon, one of Canada’s leading experts in cruising and navigation (downloadable in PDF form)
  • A set of modular screencasts on each topic, using a presentation with voice-over commentary to explain and illustrate key concepts and techniques.  These screencasts can be viewed as often as desired.
  • Email access to the course instructors to get personalized support as required
  • We provide an online practice exam that participants can take to prepare themselves for the real exam.
  • The Sail Canada Basic Coastal Navigation exam.   This is an open-book exam.  Arrangements can be made for you to complete the exam within a defined time period and send it to us for marking
  • Post-exam feedback will provide participants with an opportunity to review their personal exam results and gain further clarification on any questions they had difficulty with.
  • After completing the course, participants will have ongoing access to the Basic Coastal Navigation course material for update and review purposes.

At the outset of the course, participants will be given guidance on how to obtain basic navigation tools (dividers, parallel rules or plotter), required publications, and the teaching charts used in the course.

Benefits of our unique course design

Our course design enables you to complete the course based on your own schedule and availability.

  • In contrast to in-person courses, you don’t have to travel to be in a particular geographic location, and have the flexibility to work through the course material at times that meet your schedule.
  • A benefit of in-person courses is interaction with instructors.  We offer email contact with instructors to respond to any challenges you encounter along the way
  • Access to a unique online practice exam that accurately simulates the experience of writing the official Sail Canada exam
  • Subscribers to any course will have on-going access to course materials, even beyond the timeframe of the specific course they participate in.  This will enable course participants to become updated on any future additions or changes in the course material, and to refresh their knowledge in future, for instance, while preparing for a cruise.

Course Outline

The course is organized in 5 sessions plus the exam process. Each of which is intended to be completed in roughly 4-6 hours of study.  (Click each session title for a detailed listing of topics covered.)

The Basic Coastal Navigation Online Practice Exam (NEW)

LTCO offers a unique online practice exam that simulates the process of  the official exam and enables you to guage your readiness for taking the official Sail Canada exam.

The Basic Coastal Navigation Exam

To be certified according to the Basic Coastal Navigation standard, course participants must achieve a mark of 70% upon writing 2.5 hour exam that covers core navigational knowledge (Part A) , and basic plotting skills (Part B).  More information about the exam is available from the “Session 5” link above.  The exam is an “open book” exam which means you can have full access to texts, publications and notes.  However, you will still need to have learned the material in order to pass the exam!

If for any reason you do not achieve 70% on the exam, arrangements can be made for you to rewrite after a 14 day interval.

Course cost, logistics and key dates

Course fee of $200 plus HST includes course materials, screencasts, support via email-based instructor guidance, online practice exam and the final Basic Coastal Navigation exam and exam result feedback.  Guidance is provided for obtaining the Instructional Charts and navigation tools.


For additional information

Exam Booking

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