Outward Bound has been delivering its classic sailing expeditions in the U.S. since 1964. In fact, the name Outward Bound comes from the nautical term used to describe ships leaving the safety of harbor for the promise and adventure of the open sea. Steeped in tradition and the foundation of our organization, our sea program continues to deliver the absolute best in expedition-based experiential education at sea.
Perhaps, if you were a student on one of the thousands of sailing courses we have delivered over the years, you may remember your instructor teaching you to read nautical charts and the age-old art of triangulation. Here’s an excerpt from the Hurricane Island Outward Bound School Sailing Handbook with proper instructions on triangulation at sea:
Triangulation is establishing your position by intersecting three lines of position (LOPs) taken at the same time on three different known objects. You may have already figured out that two intersecting LOPs would be logically sufficient : your position is where they cross. Two bearings will cross somewhere, even if you make a mistake in one or both. Three bearings will make a triangle (since total point accuracy is difficult) and the size of that triangle gives you immediate feedback on the quality of your work. Consider a two LOP intersection to be an estimated position (see next section).
- Choose three visible objects that you can positively identify, and that are neither close to each other, nor completely opposite each other from where you are looking. Buoys, lighthouses, mountaintops, and tangents (edges) of islands work well.
- On a space on the chart you won’t need to refer to, make a table listing those points.
- Take the bearings as efficiently as you can, and immediately write down the time over the table.
- Draw out the LOPs on the chart, erase markings except for the neighborhood of the intersection and mark your fix with the time of the bearings.
- Assume your boat is located in the part of the triangle that puts you closest to danger. Then adjust your course as needed.
Additionally, here’s a great diagram of stowage for your boat:
This winter, Outward Bound has some amazing opportunities for you to head outward bound and sail on the open sea in our Florida to Costa Rica semester course. On course, you will navigate, sail, kayak, raft and surf while also earning your Wilderness First Responder certification and SCUBA certification as well as working toward becoming a certified ocean lifeguard. Hope to see you on course this winter!