Seamanship Secrets

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"Secrets' is the modern Bowditch, written so clearly that navigation and seamanship will be comprehensible to anyone . . ."

Dave and Jaja Martin,

circumnavigators and authors of Into the Light: A Family's Epic Journey

"It's a great book. The prose is simple and clear . . ."

--John Vigor, author of The Seaworthy Offshore Sailboat

"The ...

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Seamanship Secrets: 185 Tips & Techniques for Better Navigation, Cruise Planning, and Boat Handling Under Power or Sail

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"Secrets' is the modern Bowditch, written so clearly that navigation and seamanship will be comprehensible to anyone . . ."

Dave and Jaja Martin,

circumnavigators and authors of Into the Light: A Family's Epic Journey

"It's a great book. The prose is simple and clear . . ."

--John Vigor, author of The Seaworthy Offshore Sailboat

"The nautical tips and techniques presented are encyclopedic, yet the clear explanations demystify the topics . . ."

Don Launer, contributing editor for Good Old Boat magazine

"It is a fine piece of work and should be read by anyone contemplating coastal cruising or blue water voyages. It definitely deserves a place in the offshore yacht's library . . ."
--Ted Brewer, yacht designer, author, and offshore racing and cruising sailor

Be a Better Skipper

In the night, wind, rain, fog, big seas, strong currents, or congested waters, when there’s no time for textbook seamanship solutions, what you need are shortcuts and techniques that work quickly and reliably every time.

Distilled from the vast accumulated lore of seamanship and navigation, here are the absolute essentials--185 techniques that work without fail in the pilothouse or the exposed cockpit or flying bridge of a shorthanded sail- or powerboat. John Jamieson shows you how to:

  • Set up a clipboard chart table for cockpit use
  • Avoid hazards with danger bearings or a GPS grid highway
  • Estimate current speeds with the 50-90-100 rule
  • Track other boats in poor visibility using radar plots and bearing drift
  • Sail home without a rudder or get your twin-screw boat home on one working engine
  • Dock or anchor under any conditions
  • And much, much more

Even in this age of electronic navigation you need to know how to eyeball your boat through any situation. Each of the techniques in this cut-to-the-chase book has shown itself to be absolutely repeatable. It will work this time, the next time,

and the time a er that, in conditions fair or foul.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780071605786
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing
  • Publication date: 5/22/2009
  • Edition description: Original
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 363,876
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

John Jamieson served 23 years in the U.S. Coast Guard as a navigator, instructor, search-and-rescue coxswain, and ship’s conning officer. He has taught seamanship and navigation for the coast gaurd and navy and helped coordinate search-and-rescue missions from the California-Oregon border to the Yucatan Peninsula, out to 1,000 miles offshore. A nationally certified sailing instructor, he has sailed singlehanded for 13 years and has delivered sailing vessels along the U.S. East Coast. He holds master and mate licenses for power and sail and directed the seamanship and chart navigation department of the internationally renowned Charles F. Chapman School of Seamanship in Stuart, Florida. Visit his website at

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Table of Contents




1. Chart and Publication Secrets

A Navigator’s Most Trusted Companion

Chart Tints and Coloring

Flat Beach, High Cliffs, or Soaring Peaks?

How to Interpret Water Depths and Seabed Characteristics

Height Measurements for Safe Passage

Symbols That Shout “Danger!” and “Beware!”

Solve the Mystery of Aid-to-Navigation Symbols

Ranges Lead You to Safety

The Five Secrets for Visualizing Any Aid to Navigation

Chart Notes: Nuggets of Hidden Gold

Are Your Charts Up-to-Date?

Free Code-Breaker for 36,000 Mariners' Friends

Free Cruising Guides to Take You Anywhere

2. Chart Plotting and Preparation

Skipper’s Navigation Tools

Quick-and-Easy Review of Latitude and Longitude

How to Choose the Chart Scale You Need

Box-Plot Your Position

How to Convert Minutes, Seconds or Degrees to Miles

True versus Magnetic Directions and Two Ways to Find Variation

Check Your Steering Compass in Three Easy Steps

Bulletproof Your Charts for Longer Life

Paper Chartlets for Cockpit Ease

Complete 90% of Your Navigation by Annotation

Save Time with Custom Distance Scales

Invaluable Copilot: The Navigator’s Log

3. Easy Calculations and Adjustments

Lightning Fast Arrival Time Estimates

How to Make a Speed Graph in Three Easy Steps

Navigation Solutions in Less than Five Seconds

Harness the Power of the 3-Minute Rule

How to Select and Calibrate a New Compass

How to Choose and Adjust Marine Binoculars

How to Adjust a Sextant in Three Steps

How to Adjust Your Radar for the Best Picture

4. Piloting Tips and Techniques

DR Plotting and the Boat-Trackline Connection

How to Become Piloting Sequence Savvy

How to Determine When You Will Make Landfall

Secrets of the Most Accurate LOP on Earth

A Simple Solution to Running-Fix Confusion

Longshore Piloting When Landfall Iis in Doubt

How to Avoid Hazards with Danger Bearings

How to Clear Hazards without Plotting on a Chart

Depth Contour Secrets

Magic Boat Markers for Distance Off

Make a GPS Grid Highway to Avoid Dangers

How to Plot a GPS Position in Lless than 5 Seconds

Sail a Tacking Cone to a Windward Destination

ICW Secrets: Channel Jogs and Marker Silhouettes

5. Tides, Currents, and Leeway

How to Predict Tides Anywhere in the World

The Secret to Understanding Tidal Currents

Tap the Magic of the 50-90-100 Rule

Slack Intervals: Nature's Gift to Mariners

How to Measure the Effect of Current in Three Easy Steps

How to Cross the Gulf Stream or Any Other Ocean Current

How to Correct for Leeway Wind Drift

6. Bridges, Night Passages, and Other Tricky Navigation Situations

Cracking the Mystery of Bridge Lighting

Use the Secret of “Triple Timing” to Verify a Lighted ATON

How to Use S.T.O.P. for Easy Orientation

Range Sector Strategy Secrets

Red Sectors Give Instant Danger Bearings

7. Avoiding Collision by Eye or Radar

Bearing Drift: A First Sign that Danger Exists

Use Sectoring to Track a Crossing or Overtaking Vessel Caught in a Ship’s Blind Spot

How to Identify Motionless Contacts on Your Radar

Avoiding Collisions the E.A.S.A. Way

How to Cross behind a Stern-Towing Tug

Identify Vessels Towing Barges Alongside or Pushing Them Ahead

Quick Guide for Sailboat-to-Sailboat Situations

How to Become Sound Signal Savvy

How to Use the Three Factors of the Lookout

Radar Scope Plotting

8. Diesel Engine Maintenance and Powerboat Seamanship

A Simple User’s Guide to Inboard Diesel Engine Maintenance

How to Manually Shut Down a Diesel Engine

How to Stop a Runaway Engine

Fighting Engineroom Fires by Remote Control

Stay Safe When Hooking Up Shore Power

Wake Control and Emergency Wake Breaking

Decisions to Make Before Running an Inlet

How to Make a Fuel Consumption Graph

9. Sailboat Seamanship

The Sailing Skipper’s Eight-Component Inspection

Clearing Up the Mystery of Apparent Wind

How to Determine Wind Forces

How to Shape the Mainsail, a Sailboat’s Main Propulsion Unit

How to Shape Headsails for Power or Speed

Three Easy Steps for Heavy Weather Control

How to Remove a Jammed Sheet from a Winch

How to Sail Home if the Steering Fails

How to Prevent an Accidental Jibe

How to Short Tack in a Narrow Channel

10.Docking Seamanship

Single-Screw Boat-Handling Secrets

Twin-Screw Boat-Handling Secrets

Docking and Undocking with One Spring Line

Working into a Slip under Main or Headsail

How to Parallel Park between Two Boats

How to Warp a Boat around a Pier or Piling

How to Dock a Twin-Screw Boat with One Working Engine

11.Anchoring and Marlinspike Seamanship

How to Choose the Right Anchors for Your Boat

Choose the Proper Anchor Rode for Safety

Horizontal Loading: The Secret to Drag Prevention

The Five-Factor Guide to a Secure Anchorage

How to Increase an Anchor’s Holding Power

How to Rig a Two-Anchor Mooring System

Secrets to Anchoring under Power

Anchoring under Mainsail or Headsail

How to Use Casting Kedges for Ungrounding

How to Make a Snubber Bridle for an All-Chain Rode

The Five Kings of Marlinspike Seamanship

12. Weather and Water Wisdom

A Mariner’s Most Essential Weather Predictor

Using a Weather Pattern Log

Weather Information Resources for Mariners

How to Predict Wind Shifts in Low-Pressure Systems

Meeting a Line Squall

Lightning Timing and Protective Strategies

How to Predict Wave Heights for Cruising

Swell Secrets

How to Use Terrain Effect in Cruise Planning

13. Preventing and Handling Emergencies

Fuel-Fire Prevention Techniques

Galley Stove Safety Secrets

Overboard Recovery and Reality Checks

Use N.O.W. and Keep Crewmembers Alive and Well

Handle Flooding Emergencies with M.A.T.E.

How to Use Your Engine as a Dewatering Pump

Other Strategies for Staying Afloat when Damaged

Signs of Hypothermia and Cold-Water Shock

Skipper’s Immersion Survival and Treatments Guide

Appendix I. Useful Tables

Appendix II. Additional Concepts and Formulas



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