10 Best Marine Navigation Courses and Certifications Online

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Close up iPhone showing Udemy application and laptop with notebookMarine Navigation courses provide individuals with the necessary knowledge and skills to navigate and operate vessels safely and efficiently on water. With the advent of online learning, a plethora of courses are now available for individuals interested in advancing their expertise in this field. In this article, we will explore some of the best Marine Navigation courses available online, highlighting their features, course content, and benefits.

Here’s a look at the Best Marine Navigation Courses and Certifications Online and what they have to offer for you!

10 Best Marine Navigation Courses and Certifications Online

1. Mastering COLREGs | Marine navigation rules by Jaakko Heikkilä (Udemy) (Our Best Pick)

The “Mastering COLREGs | Marine Navigation Rules” course, instructed by Jaakko Heikkilä, aims to educate boaters and sailors on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea. The course provides a detailed explanation of the COLREGs, including a brief history, and covers rules related to sailing and steering, lights and shapes, and sound and light signals. It uses illustrations to support explanations where necessary.

The course also includes multiple choice quizzes at the end of each section to test the learners’ knowledge. This course is suitable for anyone interested in learning about collision regulations. The course is organized into the following sections: Introduction, Part A: General, Part B: Steering and Sailing, Part C: Lights and Shapes, Part D: Sound and Light Signals, Part E: Exemptions, Part F: Verification of Compliance, Annexes, and Wrapping Up.

The course begins with an introduction, followed by Part A, which covers general information on the COLREGs. Part B focuses on steering and sailing, including the right of way, overtaking, and crossing situations. Part C discusses lights and shapes, including the different types of lights and shapes used to indicate a vessel’s position and activities.

Part D covers sound and light signals, including the use of signals in restricted visibility and to indicate a vessel’s intentions. Part E explains the exemptions to the COLREGs, such as for fishing vessels and vessels engaged in military operations. Part F outlines the procedures for Verification of Compliance, which includes inspections and certifications.

The course also includes Annexes, which provide additional information and guidance, and a wrapping up section to summarize the key points covered in the course. Overall, this course is a comprehensive guide to mastering the COLREGs and is suitable for anyone looking to learn about marine navigation rules.

2. Introduction to Celestial Navigation for Mariners by Christopher D. Nolan (Udemy)

Course Title: Introduction to Celestial Navigation for Mariners

Course Instructors: Christopher D. Nolan

Course Short Description: The Marine Sextant, The Sun, and How to Navigate By Lighthouses in the Sky!

Course Long Description:
This course provides an introduction to celestial navigation for beginners, although some experience on the water is recommended. Participants will learn the basics of celestial navigation, including how to use sextants and the necessary navigational math. The course also covers advanced topics such as sextant adjustment and using the Moon, Stars, and Planets. The target audience includes both recreational and professional sailors and power-boaters interested in marine navigation, sailing using primitive navigation techniques, and self-reliance.

Course Content and Sections:
The course is divided into the following sections:
– Introduction
– Getting Started in Celestial Navigation
– Going Further in Celestial Navigation
– Advanced Concepts in Celestial Navigation
– Course Conclusion and Where to Go Next

In the introduction, participants will be acquainted with the main objectives of the course. Then, in the Getting Started section, basic concepts like the marine sextant and the importance of the sun in celestial navigation will be explained. The Going Further section covers the navigational math required for celestial navigation. Advanced Concepts cover more advanced topics such as sextant adjustment and using celestial bodies like the Moon, Stars, and Planets. Finally, the course will conclude with a summary of what was covered and suggestions for further study.

3. Ace Your 105, Coastal Navigation Written Sailing Exam by Howard Edson Sr. (Udemy)

The course titled “Ace Your 105, Coastal Navigation” is designed to provide essential coastal navigation knowledge for safe sailing cruising life. It is a comprehensive course that serves as a prep course for ASA 105 Coastal Navigation and is a prerequisite for 106. The course is divided into 9 chapters that include several navigation practice problems with solutions and 7 appendices of supplemental content.

The content of the course covers a range of topics including Chart Foundations, Reading Nautical Charts, Dead Reckoning Navigation, Bearings and Fixes, Current & Leeway, Tides & Tidal Currents, Navigation in Fog, Electronic Navigation, and Rules of the Road. The course aims to improve the seamanship skills of the sailors and keep them safe and smart under sail.

The first chapter of the course, Chart Foundations, provides an introduction to nautical charts and their uses. The following chapter, Reading Nautical Charts, delves into the intricacies of reading and understanding nautical charts. The third chapter focuses on Dead Reckoning Navigation and the techniques used to determine the ship’s position.

The course also covers Bearings and Fixes, Current & Leeway, and Tides & Tidal Currents. Navigation in Fog is another important topic covered in the course. The chapter on Electronic Navigation covers the use of GPS and other electronic aids in navigation. Rules of the Road provides knowledge about the international rules that govern vessels’ conduct on the water.

The supplemental content in the course provides additional information and resources that can be useful for the sailors. The course is instructed by Howard Edson Sr., who also shares his hard-won tips and insights to improve the sailors’ safety and seamanship skills.

4. Collision Avoidance Rules at Sea. COLREGs Master Class! by Capt.Aley Nabi Rizvi (Udemy)

This course, titled “Collision Avoidance Rules at Sea,” offers a master class on COLREGs, led by Captain Aley Nabi Rizvi. The course delves into case studies and situations encountered at sea, with a focus on applying instructional design to COLREGs.

The course is divided into several sections, with the first covering collision avoidance rules at sea, restricted visibility, narrow channels, and TSS. The course also offers a cost-effective and time-saving solution for preparing for competency examinations, including the usual questions and situations asked in MMD examinations for 2nd mate FG.

The application of steering and sailing rules is explained in detail, with a focus on the state of visibility. Sequential rules of section-I, including Look-out, Safe speed, Risk of collision, and Take avoiding action, are explored. Section-II covers rules for vessels in sight of one another, including Overtaking, Head on, and Crossing situations. Rules of section-I remain applicable in section-II.

For vessels in or near an area of restricted visibility, there is a separate section, with only one rule to be dealt with. However, section-I rules still apply. Navigation through narrow channels and fairways is dealt with separately. Navigation through traffic separation schemes requires special understanding and is included in a separate section, along with situations and usual questions asked.

The course also explains the concept of not impeding, which is often unclear to mariners and a reason for failure in MMD examinations. The course provides appropriate examples and situations to clarify the concept.

Finally, the course covers the lights and shapes exhibited by vessels. The course takes a three-dimensional approach to explain these concepts for better understanding. The course is suitable for anyone interested in learning COLREGs and covers all relevant concepts in an enjoyable and to-the-point manner.

5. How to Navigate with a Traditional Nautical Chart by Christopher D. Nolan (Udemy)

The course titled “How to Navigate with a Traditional Nautical Chart” is instructed by Christopher D. Nolan. The course aims to teach participants how to use nautical tools and charts to navigate the sea.

The course is divided into several sections. The first section serves as an introduction to the course and the instructor, while the second section focuses on defining what a nautical chart is and its purpose.

The third section is dedicated to using nautical tools such as compasses and magnetism. Participants will learn how to plot their position using latitude and longitude or bearings and radar ranges to objects. The final section of the course covers navigating on a nautical chart.

By the end of the course, participants will have gained an understanding of how nautical charts are created and how to use them to navigate the sea.

6. NAVIGATION: Piloting Small Boats by Larry Prucha (Udemy)

The Navigation: Piloting Small Boats course, taught by Larry Prucha, focuses on learning small craft navigation techniques for use on ocean coasts, lakes, and rivers. The course emphasizes not relying solely on GPS, as it can fail and leave boaters unsure of their position.

Two scenarios are presented to illustrate the importance of not relying completely on GPS. The first scenario involves a new boater using GPS as their sole method of navigation, with no backup plan if the GPS fails. The second scenario involves an experienced boater relying solely on GPS to navigate in open ocean, without cross-referencing their position with a chart.

The course teaches how to plot a course using Lat/Long coordinates from a GPS and mark them on a plot, confirm location with landmarks and depth sounder data, and dead reckon progress on the plot. The course uses charts from the New England coast but can be adapted to other bodies of water, with differences noted.

The course is divided into sections covering small boat navigation, underwater and sign post charts, navigation tools, piloting (planning and notation, point to point), safety essentials, and a wrap up.

7. Nautical Rules of the Road (COLREGS) for Coast Guard Exams by Christopher D. Nolan (Udemy)

The Nautical Rules of the Road (COLREGS) for Coast Guard Exams is a comprehensive course offered by Captain Chris Nolan, the highest-rated instructor on Udemy for Marine Navigation. Designed to help marine enthusiasts and professionals pass the Rules of the Road Exam and become safer boaters, the course covers every single rule in the COLREGS, as well as every rule in the Inland Rules for the USA. It is an excellent resource for those studying for Coast Guard licenses at any level, from six-pack to Unlimited Master.

The course covers each rule in a video course using a whiteboard and graphics. Multiple-choice examination questions accompany each rule to enhance knowledge. Additional longer quizzes and video lectures are also available to explain the various questions and answers. In addition, study tips, test-taking strategies, and common topics that students get wrong are provided to help prevent mistakes on the water or in the exam room.

Previously only available for select students through Practical Navigator Training, this highly-sought course is now publicly available for anyone to improve their boating skills or professional license. Captain Chris Nolan, a licensed merchant mariner and Coast Guard veteran based in the United States, leads the course.

The course content is divided into several sections, including Course Introduction and Resources, Part A of the Rules – General, Part B of the Rules – Steering and Sailing (Any Condition of Visibility), Part B of the Rules – Steering and Sailing (In Sight), Part B of the Rules – Steering and Sailing (Not in Sight) & Part B Quiz/Discussion, Part B of the Rules – Review, Part C of the Rules (Lights and Shapes), Part D of the Rules – Sound and Light Signals, Exceptions and Annexes to the Rules, Preparing for Your Exam, and Course Conclusion.

8. How to Get Your Coast Guard Captain’s License by Christopher D. Nolan (Udemy)

The “How to Get Your Coast Guard Captain’s License” course is designed to provide an overview of the required paperwork and resources for self-studying for the US Coast Guard Captain’s License exams. The course is instructed by Christopher D. Nolan.

The course is ideal for individuals who want to turn their water hobby into a profession and obtain their Captain’s License. The course covers all the administration and application materials required to submit for the license. Additionally, the course provides resources for studying and taking the exams at the nearest Regional Exam Center.

The course is divided into four sections: Introduction, The Application Process, Testing Topics and Study Resources, and Course Conclusion. The Testing Topics and Study Resources section covers all the individual modules that will be tested on, including study tips, resources, and practice exams for each module.

Upon completion of the course, participants will have a comprehensive understanding of the process of obtaining their US Coast Guard Captain’s License. They will also have access to a variety of resources that will enable them to prepare and take the license exams successfully.

9. Learn Navigation, Safety and Operation of Your Boat. by Edward Jarvis (Udemy)

The course “Learn Navigation, Safety and Operation of Your Boat” is instructed by Captain Edward Jarvis and focuses on teaching vessel operation in difficult conditions with an emphasis on safety, navigation skills, and vessel operation. Captain Jarvis founded the Academy of Boating after realizing the need for a comprehensive instruction program during his first coastal solo trip on his 45-foot motor yacht. This program is designed for individuals who want to increase their overall boating knowledge, but may not have the time or resources to complete a formal educational program.

Seventy-five percent of all boating accidents involve collisions, with eighty-five percent of these being caused by operator error. To address this issue, Captain Jarvis created an educational program that is both entertaining and educational, using avatars to narrate and present the content in modules of six minutes. New modules are added every week to ensure that the program covers a comprehensive list of topics, including Collision Avoidance, Right Of Way, Life Jackets, Tides, Lookout Responsibilities, Visual Distress Signals, Navigation Lights, Carbon Monoxide Poisoning, Safe Speed, US Coast Guard Safety Checks, Management of Crossing Situations, and Head On Situations.

Captain Jarvis’s credentials include three undergraduate degrees, one graduate degree, a United States Coast Guard Master Captain of self-propelled vessels of less than 100 gross tons, a United States Coast Guard Operator of UnInspected Passenger Vessels (OUPV) Certification, a permit by the Federal Communication Commission as a maritime radio operator, and approved instructor status by the United States Coast Guard. It is his sincere hope that this program exceeds the students’ expectations and promotes safe boating practices.

10. Radar for Sailors and Boaters by Christopher D. Nolan (Udemy)

The Radar for Sailors and Boaters course, instructed by Christopher D. Nolan, is designed to teach sailors and boaters how to use radar to navigate more safely on the water. The course is derived from a commercial course for Radar Observer for professional mariners, but tailored to an audience that suits all sailors and boaters. The course covers radar theory, factors affecting radar performance, operational controls for a radar, and the fundamentals of relative motion, speed, distance, and time.

The course also covers Collision Avoidance Regulations (COLREGS) as pertaining to radar, the use of radar as a navigational tool for marine navigation, and advanced concepts of maneuvering boards and vector analysis for determining the course, speed, and closest point of approach of a nearby radar target. The course uses the Bridgemaster-E Radar and a maritime simulator to describe concepts and problems in maritime navigation.

The course is based on the International Maritime Organization’s requirements for “Radar at the Operational Level” and is distilled and targeted for all mariners, but still includes challenging concepts and advanced details about radar and collision avoidance. It is not a cakewalk! The course does not discuss installation, power management, or operation of small recreational radars.

The course is presented by Captain Chris Nolan, a licensed mariner at 1600/3000 Tons upon all oceans and a professional maritime instructor at a certified maritime training provider in the United States. Chris also sails as captain of tall ships in the United States and serves as a Coast Guard reservist.

The course is broken down into several sections, including Introduction, Principles of Radar, The Radar as a Tool for Mariners (Bridgemaster E Radar Example), Radar as a Tool for Relative Motion, Radar as a Tool for Collision Avoidance, Radar as a Tool for Maritime Navigation, Advanced Techniques on Maneuvering Boards (Optional Content), Conclusion, and Takeaways.