Section 1

Getting Started



Passage and Piloting Plans

A passage is a journey by boat from one port or anchorage to another. As with any journey, the safe traveller will take time to plan the trip.

Piloting is the act of conducting a vessel into and out of harbours or anchorages, along coastlines, and through channels using landmarks, aids to navigation, and soundings as references. Having a good idea of where you are in relation to where you want to go and avoiding hazards are the primary concerns of piloting.

Passage Planning

Passage planning can make the difference between a safe and enjoyable trip, or one that is uncomfortable or even disastrous. Planning helps you avoid bad weather, take advantage of favourable currents, make the most of navigational aids, and be prepared to react in case of emergency.

When planning a passage, small-scale charts are used to create an overall strategy. This is a “big picture” plan that considers such factors as an efficient route, alternate routes and possible ports of refuge in case of emergency, anticipated weather conditions, the abilities of the crew, the condition of the boat and its equipment, and the large-scale charts and other publications that will be needed.

The Piloting Plan

A detailed piloting plan deals with the specific navigational challenges along your route. Large-scale charts and publications such as sailing directions, and tide and current tables are used to identify hazards and aids to navigation, determine tidal height and current, and decide exactly how you intend to navigate the different phases of your journey. Deciding when to depart, estimating arrival times, and calculating the best time to travel through channels and narrows are also functions of a piloting plan.

Passage and Piloting Plan Checklist

Here is a list of factors you should consider when planning a passage or creating a piloting plan. You will learn more about each of these factors as you progress though the course material.

charts and other publications


safe route and possible hazards

shortest distance


crew capability



navigation methods

alternative routes & ports of refuge


en route aids to navigation

weather conditions


tidal heights and currents

timing of departure and arrival


harbour entrances, narrows and channels

The CYA Coastal Navigation Standard

2. Identify a source of official Canadian government navigation publications.
3. List the publications required for prudent navigation in the local area.
4. List the instruments required for prudent navigation in the local area.
5. Describe the purpose of Notices to Mariners.
15. Demonstrate knowledge of passage and piloting planning.

© 2012 - Canadian Edition