Getting confused about Lateral Navigation Marks and ATONs? There are two systems in the world. IALA-A and IALA-B. Basically, the colors are opposite but here is the infographic.
This information and everything else you need to know about coastal navigation is in the NauticEd Coastal Navigation Course. It’s only $39. Upon completion, the course is added to your globally accepted sailing resume.
Infographic showing IALA-A and IALA-B systems
Here is a world map of where these systems are used.
On IALA-B use “red – right – returning”. i.e. put the red buoy on your right when returning.
On IALA-A you use the mnemonic “Is there any red port left” to memorize which color buoy you pass on which side of your boat (when returning). i.e. take red buoy to your port (which is the left side of your boat.). Universally, “Is there any red port left?” also works for memorizing what color lights are on your boat. i.e. The red light is mounted on your port side of your boat which is the left side of your boat. For IALA-A is is also easy to remember that you match the color of your boats light to the buoy light. i.e. Red to Red and Green to Green.
Just FYI: IALA stands for International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities.
Learn Sailboat Giveway Rules and Cure Boredom at the Same Time.
Here is a fun sailing game you can play ol’ school like when stuck on an airplane with a sailing buddy. It’s kinda like the old Race Car Vector Grid game but better ’cause it’s sailing. If you can drag your kids off the iPad, give it a go with them as well.
Take a piece of Math Grid Paper. At the bottom left draw a horizontal start line approx. 6 squares across.
Draw the wind direction directly down the page. Lay out a course. For example, first buoy to windward, then second buoy across the page to the right, then 3rd buoy to leeward close to the bottom right of the page then back to first buoy then back through the start finish gate. Label the buoys Port or Starboard meaning the side of the boat all boats must leave the buoy to when rounding. Draw in some menacing islands.
Here is an example of a game played which takes about 20 minutes.
A game played
Playing the Game
Read the rules through a few times. You’ll start to get it after a while. Pay particular attention to allowable maneuvers and giveway rules.
Boats move by vectors in the grid denoted as Upwind and Downwind and or across wind on Starboard or across wind on Port.
Upwind is listed as U, downwind is listed as D. Across wind is listed as S(starboard) or P (port). E.g 1U:2S means the boat moves 1 square towards the wind and 2 squares to the left (boat on starboard)
Boats can only maneuver by increasing or decreasing the previous vector by maximum of 1 in only 1 of the Upwind/Downwind or Port/Starboard directions. However, if both vectors equal then the boat can accelerate or decelerate by 1 up AND by 1 cross.
At anytime the minimum move will be at least 1 square.
Loose two turns for repairs if you hit an island or go off the board.
Upwind and Tacking Maneuvers
Boats can not move more than 45 deg into the wind i.e. the Up vector number can not be more than the cross wind vector number.
A boat can tack through the wind at anytime. When the boat tacks the next starting vector is 1U:1(S or P)
Upwind and tacking examples:
1U:1S can accelerate to 2U:2S then to 3U:3S then to 4U:4S
2U:2S can decelerate to 1U:1S
2U:2S can turn to 1U:2S or 2U:3S
3U:3S can tack to 1U:1P
1U:1S tacks to 1U:1P
0U:3S tacks to 1U:1P
5D:3P tacks to 1U:1S
2U:1S is invalid because it is too close to the wind i.e upwind vector is greater than crosswind vector
Downwind and gybing maneuvers
A boat can go in any downwind direction, but the down vector can not be more than 3 greater than the cross vector because of reduced apparent wind. i.e. 3D:0S, 4D:1P, 5D:2P are valid whereas 4D:0S, 5D:1S are not valid
A boat can gybe between S and P but each time it will loose speed by 1 in each direction. i.e. 3D:3S gybe goes to 2D:2P on the opposite tack setting. If the crosswind vector is 1, then it remains at 1 on the other gybe setting. e.g. 3D:1S gybe results in 2D1P
When going directly downwind i.e. 0(S orP) a gybe reduces the downwind by 1 but the 0 across remains 0. Thus, a gybe from 3D:0S will go to 2D:0P
When on a beam reach e.g. 0D:3P a gybe causes the boat to decelerate 1 in the cross direction but angles downwind by 1. e.g. 0D:3P gybes to 1D:2S
1D:1S gybes to 1D:1P and vice versa
Downwind and gybing examples:
4D:1S gybe goes to 3D:1P
5D:2S gybe goes to 4D:1P
3D:0S gybe goes to 2D:0P
4D:1S can slow to 3D:1S
4D:1S can not accelerate to 5D:1S
0D:3S gybe goes to 1D:2S
3U:3S gybe goes to 2D:2P
1U:1S gybe goes to 1D:1P
Players start anywhere they select but 1 square downwind from the start line
Players can not be on or pass the start line until after their 4th turn
A Players first move is either 1S or 1P
No violation of the giveway rules prior to start
A boat on Port can not come close abeam or forward of another boat’s position on starboard at anytime during its maneuver. Close is defined by all positions 1(U or D)1:1(S or P) relative to the starboard boat’s position that are abeam or forward.
When on the same tack, a windward boat can not land on any possible position of the leeward’s boat next landing position.
A Port boat can not land on any possible position of a starboard’s boat next landing position.
No boat can make a maneuver to force another boat to leave the page.
No boat may land on another boat’s current position.
With responsible sailing knowledge there is, of course, theory and practical skills to learn and demonstrate.
When you get with your practical instructor, it is highly recommended to complete the appropriate theory courses prior to the practical training. Otherwise, you’ll spend too much time on the basics preventing the instructor from doing their real work which is to get your hands on the helm and the lines. You don’t want the instructor spending valuable on-the-water time explaining who gives way or how the sails create forces. If this is the case, the instructor may not be able to spend the proper amount of time on the practical skills and thus be forced to fail your desired practical competence ability.
Here is the matrix of courses you should complete vs the Practical Competence Ability you are seeking from your instructor. We hope you take this list seriously. It has been designed by professionals to ensure your competence and confidence on the water. Please do your best to complete them PRIOR to your practical training.
MATCH YOUR PRACTICAL COMPETENCE ABILITY WITH THE THEORY COURSES AND RANKS BELOW
Also for Captain requirement, you are required to have been on an extended distance sailing trip of at least 200 miles with one through-the-night sailing whereby you participated in all aspects of navigation, helm, sail trim, life aboard tasks, and watch.
This is a partial section out of our NauticEd Skipper Course and our NauticEd Coastal Navigation Course which discusses lights on ATONs. If you find this useful then perhaps you might consider taking either of the courses. Coastal Navigation is only $39 and covers most everything you need to know when navigating a yacht. When you pass the course it automatically adds to your NauticEd Sailing Resume.
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ATONs are Aids to Navigation. The term is primarily used in the United States and Canada. Most of the rest of the world refer to them as Navigation Marks.
Lights are installed on some ATONs. The lights are usually alternating on and off on some consistent interval to distinguish one ATON from another. The series of “ons” and “offs” are listed on the charts. This helps identify exactly which ATON you are observing. The time between each series is called a “period”.
Lighted ATONs are grouped into Flashing, Quick, Occulting and Isophase.
Flashing: A light in which the total duration of light in each period is clearly shorter than the total duration of darkness – and in which the flashes of light are all equal in duration.
Example: a quick flash on then a longer period off
Example: the flashes might be grouped meaning that the ATON flashes quickly a number of times followed by a longer period of dark then repeating.
Quick Light: A light turning on more than 60 (but less than 80 flashes) per minute.
Occulting: Showing longer periods of light than darkness (opposite of flashing)
Isophase: showing equal periods of light and darkness – remember that “iso” means same.
A Long Flash: (L Fl.) A light which exhibits a long flash of 2 seconds followed by a period of longer darkness.
Morse Code: (Mo. (letter)) A Morse coded letter
Colors of lights are listed with the ATON. They are red (R), green (G), yellow (Y), and white (W). Blue is reserved for law enforcement. Or if the color is not listed then it is white.
Examples of the various types are shown below:
There can also be a composite group flashing light. In the example below the green light flashes twice then one – then repeats after some time.
You can identify the lights on the charts from the information next to the light. In the example below, the Bifurcated Lateral Maker “U” flashes composite green twice then once every 6 seconds – Fl G (2+1) 6s, while the Green Lateral Can number “9” flashes green twice every 6 seconds – Fl G (2) 6s.
At night, you’ll be able to pick out the lights against their backdrop of city lights because of their alternating nature. In the example below you can see Fl G (2+1) 6s and Fl R (4) 6s. Notice however, that you have to concentrate on one at a time, so that the other does not distract you.
Here is a slightly visually annoying summary.
Fl R (2) 5s
Occ Fl R
Iso Fl R
Composite Fl (2+1) 6s
In most countries, including the USA, the white quick flashing light is used to mark Cautionary ATONS
Safe Water Marks
In many countries, including the USA, the Safe Water mark is used and is a white flashing Morse code “A”. One short followed by one long and then repeating at least 8 times per minute. Just remember A – ok.
But also, a safe water mark can be exhibited by other white lights as shown specifically on the chart.
A long 2 second flash over a 10 second period (L Fl. 10s) is also reserved for a safe water mark.
Special Purpose Marks
If a Special Purpose Buoy is lighted it displays a yellow light with fixed or slow flashing characteristics.
Isolated Danger Marks
If lighted, a white light shall be used and the chart will announce the flashing sequence. The image below shows Fl (2) 5s but this is just an example. Any time you see a white flashing light you should be on guard.
Sector lights are sectors of color that are placed on lantern covers of certain lighthouses to indicate danger bearings. On a chart, the sector bearings are true bearings according to the chart and must be converted from magnetic bearing if using a compass. A red sector indicates a vessel is potentially in danger of running aground. Note however, that red can be seen beyond the danger zone as well.
This is also seen here below in a real case of a Nautical Chart #12354 Long Island Sound Eastern Port. Can you spot the Red Sector light?
Spot the Red Sector Light
Cardinal Mark Lights
Cardinal Marks if lighted use white quick flash lights. They are easily remembered from thinking of a clock dial.
North – Continuous quick flash
East – 3 quick flashes (3 o’clock)
South – 6 quick flashes followed by a long flash (6 o’clock)
West – 9 quick flashes (9 o’clock)
Publications that list all the lights usually exist for each country. In the United States the Coast Guard publishes the Light List, which can be found at http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=lightlists For your country, or the country you are visiting, just search on “coast guard light list (country)” or you might replace coast guard with navigation or atons.
Below is an excerpt. Each ATON is listed by number (from the index at the back of the light list), it’s name and any distinguishing location, its lat and long position, its characteristic, height (if it is a light house), the range that the light can be seen from, the type of structure and any remarks about the light.
Light List Excerpt
Putting It All Together
The graphic animation below shows what a harbor entrance may look like at night.
And the corresponding chart symbols might look like this below
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The International Certificate of Competence
aka the ICC – How to get one
To gain the ICC is now a simple process.
You can do it in one of two ways. The first is a simple assessment of your theory knowledge and sailing competence by an RYA qualified instructor. The assessment takes one day. It is a pass/fail assessment whereby no instruction is given. See ICC Assessment details below.
The second is that you gain the RYA Day Skipper Certificate which automatically qualifies you for the ICC. Note: that you can not do this process with the ASA because the USA has not signed Resolution 40 and thus ASA is NOT authorized in anyway to issue any government Sailing or Boating License. Their IPC is not sanctioned or recognized by United Nations.
Gaining the ICC via the RYA Day Skipper Certificate Route
Watch this video which discusses the RYA Day Skipper Course.
First, pass the online RYA Day Skipper course at NauticEd. The course is quite extensive and covers everything required by the United Nations Resolution 40 which authorizes the ICC. See below for the UN knowledge requirements. No matter your experience, we also guarantee that you will gain some great sailing knowledge.
Once you pass the Online theory Day Skipper Course, you then attend one of 500 RYA sailing Schools in the world. North Americans should attend the Yachting Education RYA Training Center in Charleston, The Bahamas, or The US Virgin Islands.
The Online RYA Day Skipper Sailing Course
Complete the theory requirements for the RYA Day Skipper Course and ICC online at home
The NauticEd RYA Day Skipper online course requires a real person to take the time to grade your exam and that you do the exam with RYA Charts and an Almanac which we include in the cost of the course. Thus, the cost is a bit more than our regular other eLearning courses.
Essentially, the course is a combination of the NauticEd Skipper Course and the NauticEd Coastal Navigation Course ($95 combined cost). Thus, if you have already purchased these courses, you will gain an approximate equivalent credit for these courses when purchasing the RYA Day Skipper Course.
If the NauticEd courses are not in your curriculum we have provided an easy start method whereby you can gain access to the RYA Day Skipper course for less. For just $155 you gain access to the course and we send to you the RYA charts and materials. Note that you will not yet be able to submit your exam to our RYA instructor if you select this option. – Eventually, you will need to upgrade to the full pack ($195 upgrade) to submit the exam but at least this is a way to get started with a budget in mind.
The full RYA Day Skipper course if you want to start out properly is $350 (with appropriate credit automatically calculated for Skipper and Coastal Navigation Courses purchased prior). When you pass this course – you are issued with the RYA Day Skipper Theory Course and Exam complete certificate. Your practical time on the water after that is a breeze, you’ll be doing no exams on the water.
The RYA Day Skipper Practical Training
To complete the RYA Day Skipper Certification, take the 5-day vacation/learn to sail sailing course. By the end of the 5-day training, as long as you demonstrate competence to the standard then you will be issued the RYA Day Skipper Certificate. This automatically qualifies you for the ICC and NauticEd will arrange this for you upon passing the theory and Practical.
The one-day assessment is a slightly grueling assessment of your theory knowledge and practical competency. But don’t be intimidated, just make sure you know your stuff.
There is heavy emphasis on the theory knowledge of navigation (plotting courses, currents, tides, chart work, day and night ATONs and markers), passage planning, and navigation rules of the road in the assessment. Thus you should learn and get comfortable with this in the theory training online prior to the assessment. The last thing you want to do is fail. Most sailors can not “wing” this assessment without some study (even experienced sailors). Given this, our North American assessor will not allow you to test out of the assessment without having completed either the NauticEd Bareboat Charter Master bundle of online courses or the RYA Day Skipper online theory course. He simply does not like to fail people but will if they try to wing it. For example, can you draw a North, South, East and West Cardinal Mark? What is the distinguishing light of a safe water marker or an isolated danger mark? Can you calculate at what time could you enter a shallow harbor given the tide almanac? Your sailboat under sail is overtaking a small powerboat on its port side, who must give way? In IALA-A is it Red Right Returning or Red to Red on Return? What about IALA-B? Given a specific current flow rate and direction changing over a tide cycle, could you plot a series of courses to arrive at a destination and estimate the time of arrival? What about fire extinguishers, can you name on the spot the best types of extinguishers for the type of fire?
In addition to the on-the-spot theory assessment, the assessor will test your practical competence including backing into slips, springing off the dock, and all aspects of maneuvering in the marina under power, your ability to lead a crew and give proper instructions using proper terminology for all types of sailing maneuvers.
Usually, we find the sailor is practically competent but are lacking on the specifics of the theory. This is why we strongly suggest the student to take the online classes prior to the event else your $400 assessment fee could be wasted. Additionally, we have schools worldwide who can give you training prior to the assessment.
(1) Doing the one-day on-the-water assessment with NauticEd Bareboat Charter Master Bundle of online courses or the RYA Day Skipper online course.
(2) Gain the RYA Day Skipper Certificate via the RYA Day Skipper online course and the 5 day on-the-water training at an RYA training center. This automatically qualifies you for the ICC.
Which one do we recommend?
Well, it really depends on you. If you are open to learning new tricks and tips and get some solid formal training, you can not beat the full RYA Day Skipper route. If you think you know enough practical, then do the assessment with the Bareboat Charter Master Bundle of courses.
United Nations Resolution 40 ICC Standards for Knowledge
1. For the issue of an international certificate the applicant must:
(a) have reached the age of 16;
(b) be physically and mentally fit to operate a pleasure craft, and in particular, must have sufficient powers of vision and hearing;
(c) have successfully passed an examination to prove the necessary competence
for pleasure craft operation.
2. The applicant has to prove in an examination :
(a) sufficient knowledge of the regulations concerning pleasure craft operation and nautical and technical knowledge required for safe navigation on inland waters and/or coastal waters; and
(b) the ability to apply this knowledge in practice.
3. This examination shall be held with regard to the zones of navigation (i.e. inland waters and/or coastal waters) and must include at least the following specific subjects:
3.1 Sufficient knowledge of the relevant regulations and nautical publications:
Traffic regulations applicable on inland waters, in particular CEVNI (European Code for Inland Waterways), and/or in coastal waters, in particular the Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, including aids to navigation (marking and buoyage of waterways).
3.2 Ability to apply the nautical and technical knowledge in practice:
(a) general knowledge of craft, use and carriage of safety equipment and serviceability of the engine/sails;
(b) operating the craft and understanding the influence of wind, current, interaction and limited keel clearance;
(c) conduct during meeting and overtaking other vessels;
(d) anchoring and mooring under all conditions;
(e) maneuvering in locks and ports;
(f) general knowledge of weather conditions;
(g) general knowledge of navigation, in particular establishing a position and deciding a safe course.
3.3 Conduct under special circumstances:
(a) principles of accident prevention (e.g. man over board maneuver);
(b) action in case of collisions, engine failure and running aground, including the sealing of a leak, assistance in cases of emergency;
Using our nano forum technology, one of our student’s asked the question.
Q: Please help! In the image, a sailboat has a powerboat (looks like a cabin cruiser) to port, apparently adrift in this example. However, there are no sails deployed on the sailboat. The sentence beneath this picture says the powerboat must give way, making the sailboat the Stand on boat. Why is this the case? Is it because the powerboat has the sailboat to starboard? Is it because the powerboat is adrift? Is the sailboat under power or adrift? This picture is confusing me because it seems the sail boat is also either under power or adrift. It’s certainly not overtaking the powerboat from the rear. Can anyone help with this one?
Here is our answer
A:Powerboat rules apply. The power boat sees the power driven sailboat on its right (sees a red light) and thus must give way. Additional note: adrift is still under power regardless if the engines are on or off. Why is that? Well, how could the sailboat know if the engines on the powerboat are on or off? For consistency of the rules then, adrift IS underpower. Further note: the sailboat even tho stand-on still has the responsibility to not cause a close quarters situation. Thus, let’s say the power boat could not start its engines, then there is no problem because of the sailboat’s continued responsibility. Further note: the student also asks what if the sailboat is adrift. Well, that point is moot because both adrift would not cause a collision. However, even if the wind was pushing the adrift sailboat towards the adrift powerboat, technically both are still underway and the powerboat is still the give-way vessel. Further note: if the powerboat was at anchor, then it is at anchor no longer underway.
Thanks to Perry G of Oregon for asking the question using our Nano forums “SeaTalk”.
On every page of our sailing courses, there is a SeaTalk button. Use this button to ask and answer a question. In particular, please help the community by answering questions when you see that there are comments or question on the SeaTalk page.
GET TWO FREE SAILING COURSES AND A FREE ELECTRONIC SAILOR’S LOGBOOK
PLUS BE A LUCKY WINNER OF THE NAUTICED CAPTAIN’S EDUCATION BUNDLE
NauticEd International Sailing Education is the proud title sponsor for the May 12th 2016, Oregon Offshore International Yacht Race. Two of NauticEd’s practical sailing schools, Island Sailing Club and Vancouver Sailing Club are a significant part of this title sponsorship and many of their students are participating.
The race, in its 40th year is 193 miles long and begins off the coast of Astoria, Oregon and finishes in the harbor at Victoria, British Columbia.
As part of the education sponsorship, NauticEd is giving away 6 Captain’s Sailing Education Packages to 6 lucky participants. This represents over a $2000 donation to the cause of keeping people save on the water with advanced sailing education. View the contents of the Captains package below. This represents extensive and vital education for all sailors wanting to sail more than 20 miles off shore or over long distances.
All participants are encouraged to create a new account with NauticEd whereby they will receive 2 FREE NauticEd courses, Navigation Rules and Basic Sail Trim and a FREE sailor’s electronic logbook.
Students of Island Sailing Club and Vancouver Sailing Club are encouraged to join in on the race.
WINNERS: If you are a winner of one of the 6 Captain Education Packs, sign up for a free account at www.NauticEd.org/signin then send us an email. Once we verify with the Committee your prize, we will drop the 12 sailing courses into your curriculum. Congratulations!
ALL OTHERS: Set up a free account at NauticEd here Sign in to NauticEd you will automatically be given two free courses and a free sailor’s electronic logbook. You’re Welcome!
We think this is the world’s best sailing App and for good reason.
NEW APP WAS UPDATED ON SEPT 20th 2015
First off, it is free (that’s good) and second off with that you get NauticEd’s free course on Navigation Rules. Pretty soon we’ll also add NauticEd’s FREE Basic Sail Trim Course.
In addition, any course that you have invested in with NauticEd automatically appears on your App. And to top that off, you can also take your tests for all your courses on the App offline. That’s a big wow!
There is zero reason not to download the App – and imagine if everyone did and took the FREE Navigation Rules Course. You could stop worrying about if the “other guy” heading at you knows the rules or not. So spread the word generously.
Bored in the doctor’s office? Take the Free Rules of the Nautical Road test!
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Posted by Grant Headifen, Global Director of Education – NauticEd.
One of the greatest things I love about my job is the ability to apply the latest technology to the sailing education industry – it is so exciting to be leading the world in this area.
And – today comes as a greatly awaited day for us to announce one of the bigger innovations in not only sailing education but in the entire community of eLearning itself.
I’d like to introduce Nano-Forums!!!!!!!!
Please watch this video and you’ll see why our Sailing Nano-Forum is so innovative and such a benefit to the sailing community at large – You’re Welcome! It represents a MASSIVE investment in technology over the past 6 months. Ummm like really REALLY massive but we think it’s worth it!
We think you will really enjoy it.
Oh and btw since this is new technology to the world and we invented it, we are coining the phrase NANO-FORUM right here right now!
What it ultimately means is that we all now can collectively crowd source information in targeted specific areas and re-use the crowds knowledge for educational drill down topic purposes in a way never been done before.
Just watch the video – you’ll get what we are talking about.
Please engage in the Nano-Forums through out our courses. Look for the SeaTalks button at the top right of every page of the course.
Start by taking the FREE Navigation Rules Course at: