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Book: Navigation, Sea State, Weather -A Paddler's Manual. Freedom of the Seas Volume 1. 2020. Second Edition. Paperback $30.99 (or eBook $20.00)

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Written by JF Marleau, Michael Pardy, Andrew Woodford and Piper Harris. Published by SKILS.

Paddlers journey along the boundaries between sea, air and land. Volume 1 of the Freedom of the Seas series contains an important slice of paddling knowledge regarding these boundaries and information about navigation, sea state and weather. We have combined these three knowledge sets into one book for a simple reason: on the water, they are inseparable.

Freedom of the Seas, Volume 1 is intended as a reference for kayakers and canoeists touring large bodies of water. This book is written from a Canadian perspective. The examples in this book are drawn from across Canada, but the lessons can be applied anywhere in the world. Ten years after the release of the first edition, we are excited to release this revised and expanded second edition with up-to-date information, new drawings and graphics, and tips to improve your skills and knowledge. We are grateful for some fantastic feedback from SKILS staff and students on how to improve the content and make it easier to understand some complex theoretical concepts.

This book is also available as an ebook for $20.00

What you'll learn in the navigation section:

1) How to read and use a marine chart. The lessons will focus on

The difference between charts and maps

Topographic map symbols

Chart projection

Latitude and longitude


Measuring distances

Reporting your position

Marine chart symbols

Depths and depth contours

Heights and height contours

The intertidal zone

Hazard symbols

Special areas and boundaries

Aids to navigation

2) Practical navigation techniques. The lesson will focus on

Basic piloting

Effect of wind on speed




Aiming off

Range and line of position

The narrative of navigation

The circles of possibility

3) Advanced practical navigation techniques. The lessons will focus on

Vectors and calculating the effects of currents on speed

Rule of 60 and the small angle rule

Tools for judging distance

4) Collision Regulations. The lessons will focus on

The 3R’s for avoiding a collision

Navigation Lights

Canadian collision regulations

Vessel Traffic Services

Ships whistles and horns

5) Navigating with a compass and electronic navigation. The lessons will focus on

The marine compass

The orienteering compass

True, grid and magnetic north

The variation, declination and deviation

The magnetic dip

Bearing, heading and course

How to use the compass

Bisects and triangulation

Dead reckoning with a compass

Navigation tips to be efficient

Tactics in low visibility, especially in fog or at night

Electronic Navigation

What you'll learn in the sea state section:

1) A better understanding of the how swell and waves are formed and how they affect watercraft. The lessons will focus on

The Beaufort Scale

Rebounding waves

Refracting and diffracting waves



Storm Surge

Seiche Waves



2) A better understanding of how to paddle in the ice. More specifically, you will learn

The different types of iceThe hazards caused by icebergs and glaciers

3) A better understanding of tides and currents, their origin and how they impact watercraft. The lessons will focus on

Variables affecting the tides

Types of currents

Surface features of a current

Paddling in currents

Where to get information about tides and currents

Calculating tide heights and times

Rule of 12ths

Rule of 50/90

Doug and Mike’s most excellent rule of 25%

Calculating current speed, direction and times with maximum rates

Calculating current speed, direction and times with percentage rates

Calculating current speed, direction and times with interpolation

Rule of Thirds

Slack Water Rule

What you'll learn in the weather section:

1) A better understanding of the how weather systems are formed and affect you. The lessons will focus on

Barometric pressure



Jet streams

Air masses

High pressure systems

Low pressure systems

Frontal systems


Wind speed

Wind direction

Coriolis effect

Buys ballot and the cross winds rule

Gap winds

Corner winds

Lee effects


Sea breezes and land breezes

Katabatic and anabatic winds


Thunderstorms and lightning

Regional patterns across Canada

2) You’ll develop skills and knowledge how to record and interpret marine weather. The lessons will focus on

Developing competency in recording the marine weather forecast on the VHF radio

Understanding the different type of information broadcasted

Learning essential tips

Developing a shorthand

Reading synoptic weather charts

Great resources for interpreting weather

How to make predictions and decisions

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