Sailing Navigation Secrets - Chart Symbols Every Skipper Needs to Know - 2
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Sailing Navigation Secrets - Chart Symbols Every Skipper Needs to Know
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Symbols That Describe Land Features

Navigational charts use three distinct land profile symbols to describe flat or elevated topography.

1. Solid, thin black lines that enclose a land mass show the high tide mark on a flat beach. At low tide, the beach will extend further into the sea, making coastal navigation more hazardous.

2. Serrated, teeth-like marks, joined end-to-end, indicate high coastal cliffs. In heavy weather, take shelter on this side of an island.

3. Concentric or non-concentric circles indicate mountain contours. Cartographers write elevations, useful for coastal and electronic navigation, on the highest peaks. At sea, you can see a 500 foot mountain peak 26 miles away on a clear day.

Symbols That Describe Dangers

Just off the beach, you'll find nautical symbols that show rocks, coral reefs or dangerous wrecks. All of these could lead an unwary sailing skipper into peril.

1. An asterisk or "plus sign" symbol indicates rocks or coral reef. If these symbols have a dot in the corners or are surrounded by dots, they cover up at high tide. Avoid them like the plague!

2. A fish bone symbol shows a wreck below the sea surface. If dots surround the this symbol you must not attempt to pass over the wreck. Plot your sailing routes to keep at least half a mile from all fish bone wreck symbols.

3. The half-hull wreck symbol shows half of a black wedge with a stick-like mast on top. Keep your small cruising sailboat one mile or more away from these horrors.

These are just a handful of the useful sailing navigation chart symbols you will find in Chart No. 1 or Chart 5011. Learn the most important ones to keep you and your sailing crew safe and sound on the waters of the world.

* U.S. Chart No. 1:
* British Admiralty Chart Catalog:

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