Marine Navigation begins and ends like all other forms of navigation with one simple and basic rule; "knowing where you are"!
While here at BlueSeas, we will deal with marine navigation specifically, it does not matter whether you are driving, flying, or walking - "you cannot get to where you are going without first knowing where you are starting from." (Our apologies for stating the obvious)
So our aim throughout the following pages is to provide you with the best (free) marine navigation resources available to help you in getting to where you want to go, wherever that may be.
"The winds and waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators." - Edward Gibbon
Navigational Publications Downloads
Please note: Many of these files are quite large and may require substantial time to download.
American Practical Navigator
Quite simply, this is the acknowledged bible of marine navigation worldwide. No other publication offers such a detailed look into the various types of navigation used today. From deduced (dead) reckoning, coastal piloting, electronic & satellite navigation, to celestial navigation.
Also included in this book, is detailed information on the subjects of most concern to those of us who venture offshore.
For those who remember Volume II of Bowditch, it has now been incorporated into Volume I to provide the mariner with a single reference book.
File Size - 41.2 Mb.
American Practical Navigator
Chart No. 1, incorporates the symbols found on paper charts of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). The newest Chart No. 1 (12th edition) is the first to show both paper chart and electronic chart symbology side by side.
For more information regarding the use of the chart, the practice of navigation, chart sounding datum, and visual and audible aids to navigation, the user should refer to Pub. No. 9 - American Practical Navigator (Bowditch).
File Size - 15.0 Mb.
Chart #1 - 2013 12th Edition (Updated)
Distances Between U.S. Ports
Distances Between United States Ports is published by the Office of Coast Survey, National Ocean Service (NOS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
This publication contains distances from major and minor ports of the United States to other ports in the United States, and United States ports in the Great Lakes to Canadian ports in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.
It also provides distances on the New York State Canal System, western rivers including the Mississippi, and inland waters of Alaska.
File Size - 1.6 Mb.
Distances Between U.S. Ports
United States Coast Pilots
The United States Coast Pilot® (USCP), published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Ocean Service, Office of Coast Survey and is a series of nine volumes, by geographic area, that cover a wide variety of information important to navigators of U.S. coastal and intracoastal waters, and the waters of the Great Lakes.
Most USCP information cannot be shown graphically on the standard nautical chart, and is not readily available elsewhere. The topics in the United States Coast Pilot include, but are not limited to, channel descriptions, anchorages, bridge and cable clearances, currents, tide and water levels, prominent features, pilotage, towage, weather, ice conditions, wharf descriptions, dangers, routes, traffic separation schemes, small-craft facilities, and Federal regulations applicable to navigation.
For more information and free downloads visit our: United States Coast Pilots page.
International Code of Signals
The purpose of the International Code of Signals, Publication #102, is to provide ways and means of communicating either visually, by sound, or by radio in situations related essentially to safety of navigation and persons, especially when language difficulties arise.
In the preparation of the Code, account was taken of the fact that wide application of radiotelephony and radiotelegraphy can provide simple and effective means of communication in plain language whenever language difficulties are not an issue.
File Size - 1.2 Mb.
International Code of Signals
Navigation - Rules of the Road
The International Rules are applicable on waters outside of established navigational lines of demarcation. The lines are called COLREGS (Collision Regulations) Demarcation Lines and delineate those waters upon which mariners shall comply with the Inland and International Rules. COLREGS Demarcation Lines are contained in this book.
The Inland Rules in this book replace the old Inland Rules, Western Rivers Rules, Great Lakes Rules, their respective pilot rules and interpretive rules, and parts of the Motorboat Act of 1940. Many of the old navigation rules were originally enacted in the last century.
File Size - 991 Kb.
Navigation Rules - International & Inland
Pilot Charts for the Major Oceans
The "Atlas of Pilot Charts" or more often simply referred to as "Pilot Charts" or "Routing Charts," are published in (5) volumes covering the major oceans of the world. These charts are not intended to be used alone but in conjunction with other navigational aids. These charts present, in graphic form, averages obtained from data gathered over many years in meteorology and oceanography to aid the navigator in selecting the quickest and safest routes. Included are explanations of how to use each type of information depicted on these charts.
You can either download a particular month or download the entire annual set.
More information and free downloads see:
Pilot Charts for the World's Oceans
Distances Between Ports
World Port Distances (Pub. 151) is a publication that lists the distances between major ports. Reciprocal distances between two ports may differ due to different routes chosen because of currents and climatic conditions.
To reduce the number of listings needed, junction points along major routes are used to consolidate routes converging from different directions.
The positions listed for ports are central positions that most represent each port. The distances are between positions shown for each port and are generally over routes that afford the safest passage. Most of the distances represent the shortest navigable routes, but in some cases, longer routes, that take advantage of favorable currents, avoidance of ice or other dangers to navigation, or to follow required separation schemes have been used.
This publication should be corrected using Notices to Mariners.
File size - 1.5 Mb.
Distances Between Ports
Radio Navigational Aids
Radio Navigation Aids (Publication 117) is published by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, provides a detailed list of selected worldwide radio stations that provide services to the mariner. The publication is divided into chapters according to the nature of the service provided by the radio stations. The services include RDF and Radar Stations; stations broadcasting navigational warnings, time signals or medical advice; communication traffic for distress, emergency and safety including GMDSS; and long range navigational aids. It also contains chapters describing procedures of the AMVER System, and the interim emergency procedures and communication instructions to be followed by U.S. merchant vessels in times of crisis.
This publication is corrected using Notices to Mariners.
File size - 3.9 Mb.
Radio Navigation Aids
Sight Reduction Tables
Sight Reduction Tables are used in celestial navigation to "reduce" a sextant observation of a astronomical body in order to find your latitude and longitude. There are several styles of these tables, differing only by the precision provided the user.
The two most common tables used are H.O. 229 and H.O. 249.
Sight Reduction Tables for Marine Navigation is the standard set of sight reduction tables for marine navigation. Consisting of (6) volumes with each volume covering a 15° range of latitudes (interchangeable for northern and southern hemispheres). These tables of pre-computed altitudes and azimuths are used to solve for position.
File size - 32.5 Mb.
H.O. 229 Sight Reduction Tables
Sight Reduction Tables for Air Navigation consist of three volumes of comprehensive tables of altitude and azimuth designed for the rapid reduction of astronomical sights in the air. Volume 1 contains tables for selected stars for all latitudes, calculated for the current epoch; it is intended for use for about 5 years, when a new edition based on a later epoch will be issued. H.O. 249, while not as accurate as H.O. 229, is popular with mariners for sight reduction due to its condensed size and time savings. Note: Due to agreements between the British Admiralty and the U.S., HO 249 V. I Epoch 2010 is the last edition available as a free download.
World Port Index
The World Port Index (Pub. 150) contains the location, characteristics, known facilities, and available services of major ports, shipping facilities and oil terminals throughout the world (approximately 64,000 entries).
The data in this publication is mostly tabular and contains listings of available services for each port. Of particular interest are the applicable volume of Sailing Directions and the number of the harbor chart.
New editions are published bi-annually. The publication is arranged geographically, with an alphabetical index.
This book is corrected using Notices to Mariners.
File size - 2.9 Mb.
World Port Index (2015)
Light lists provide the captain and navigator information on lighted and unlighted buoys, radiobeacons, sound signals, daybeacons, radio direction finder calibration stations, and racons.
Included are both U.S.C.G. Light Lists and the NGA List of Lights that depict these aids to navigation for both U.S. and foreign waters that are used for general navigation.
Each volume contains a comprehensive list of these aids to navigation in geographic order.
USCG Light Lists
The Light List is published by the U.S. Coast Guard in (7) volumes. (6) Volumes are published annually with (1) volume being published bi-annually.
This publication provides a list of lights and other marine aids to navigation, maintained by or under authority of the U.S. Coast Guard and located on waters used by general navigation. It is intended to furnish more complete information concerning aids to navigation than can be conveniently shown on charts. Included are all Coast Guard aids to navigation used for general navigation such as lights, sound signals, buoys, daybeacons, and other aids to navigation. Class I and Class II Private Aids to Navigation are also included. Not included are some buoys having no lateral significance, such as special purpose, anchorage, fish net, and dredging.
For more information and free downloads visit our page: USCG Light Lists
NGA List of Lights
This (7) volume publication is published by the NGA and depict the primary fixed as well as off-lying and approach floating aids to navigation.
The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency publishes a List of Lights, Radio Aids and Fog Signals in seven volumes divided geographically as shown on the index chartlet on the inside front cover of this book. Major fixed and outermost floating aids to navigation, such as sea buoys, safety fairway buoys, traffic separation buoys, etc., are listed. Other floating aids are not generally listed. Storm signals, signal stations, radio direction finders, radiobeacons, RACONs and RAMARKs located at or near lights are found in this List. Radiobeacons are listed in a separate section in the back of this publication.
For more information and free downloads visit our page: NGA List of Lights
Sailing Directions can be thought of as Coast Pilots for foreign waters. Each volume provides a wealth of information useful to both the captain and navigator. They present material that is typically not available on area charts.
Included are both Planning and Enroute volumes. (Planning Guides) are intended to assist mariners in planning ocean passages and to eliminate duplication by consolidating useful information about all the countries adjacent to a particular ocean basin in one volume. (Enroute Guides) include detailed coastal and port approach information which supplements the largest scale chart produced by the NGA.
These books are corrected using Notices to Mariners.
For more information and free downloads visit our: Sailing Directions (Enroute & Planning) page.
Aids to Navigation
There are (2) types of buoyage systems in use around the world. IALA Region A and IALA Region B. Region B covers the whole of the Americas (North, Central, and South,) Japan, South Korea and the Philippines, while the rest of the world belongs to Region A.
The U.S. Coast Guard has produced an excellent booklet, (U.S. Aids to Navigation System) that is a must read for all new boaters, useful for cruisers visiting the U.S. from IALA Region A countries, and makes a great refresher for all of us old salts as well. Since the U.S. is in the IALA Region B, all aids to navigation are required to conform to these standards.
File size - 2.5 Mb.
Aids to Navigation - Free Download