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How To Be More Accurate With Chart Plotting Tools

5 442 views | 2 Oct. 2019

Plotting on a nautical

Plotting on a nautical chart demands accuracy if you want to achieve the best results. Whether for a Coast Guard exam or for everyday navigation, being more accurate on a chart pays off. This video shares three tips on how to be more accurate when plotting.

0:10 Tip #1: Don't rely on the compass rose.

3:48 Tip #2: Use the dividers correctly.

6:29 Tip #3: Use the most visible portion of the plotting tools.

8:05 Chart Plotting Course Advertisement ($125, take 50% off with code YOUTUBE).

For more on chart plotting, particularly for plotting on USCG license exams, check out my course and use the code YOUTUBE for 50% off.


Here are some links for my favorite plotting tools mentioned in this video:

https://amzn.to/2ob2pxK Extra divider leads

https://amzn.to/2ocNQtz My favorite Weems and Plath dividers

https://amzn.to/2ofW8AE One handed dividers from Weems and Plath

https://amzn.to/2p0HRs7 Rolling parallel plotter

https://amzn.to/2ocPoUp Triangles

https://amzn.to/2ob8gD6 Parallel Ruler

Music: "The Valley" by Jahzzar, Royalty Free Audio.



One note, using the compass rose you can either use the compass setting or the true-north setting. When using the meridian they will have their course for true north and may forget to correct for variation for a magnetic heading. I use my aviation plotter for both nautical and aviation since it's so easy to use it on latitude and longitude. I like your presentation very much.

Cory Johnson

Another excellent video. Maybe I am a geek, but I get excited every time one of your videos pops up in my notifications.

Pamela Lynch

I love your video!! Just subbed. Check out followsm[.]com! It would be the best way for you to reach more viewers!!!

Practical Navigator

0:10 Tip #1: Don't rely on the compass rose.
3:48 Tip #2: Use the dividers correctly.
6:29 Tip #3: Use the most visible portion of the plotting tools.
8:05 Chart Plotting Course Advertisement ($125, take 50% off with code YOUTUBE).

Wilfred Darr

I never knew about the sandpaper trick until today.

Also, I agree that a few pin pricks in the map is a fair price to pay for an accurate measure. I come from aviation, where it's mandatory to replace maps every year: I always did my routes in pen. I did my daily math and notes in soft pencil of course, but my primary track line and my 10° lay lines and any hazards on my route were marked in pen because I'm always going to fly the same routes, so why not: after a year of drawing and erasing pencil lines in exactly the same place every week (small airline, same runs, same altitude, every week) the other pilots maps were barely readable while mine could have been used another year easy! Man did this bother some of the captains though! I can't imagine doing different for sailing since I want to permanently keep a souvenir of my journeys; I do understand it would of course be different for tugs, fishing boats, etc, that wander around more, so depending on the circumstances one has to use some judgement, but there's no need to be a religious zeolite about it! My mom's Bible is marked up with notes all over, and that's how I treat my charts: if I notice a tall tower or a shallow reef I circle it, in pen: just because I noticed it today does not mean I'll notice it when I'm tired some day.

Harbour Dog

You don't use a Portland Plotter at all? Quick and easy! https://youtu.be/1gYeR10549k

Darrin Martin

Excellent tips, thanks for sharing.


Regarding reading Courses and Bearings, are you a fan of the Breton style plotter?

Jethro Ford

Or simple you can use a Portland plotter to set the course and make declination adjustment as well.


How do you plot on a harbor chart? The scales have me off, is there a conversation I have to do?

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Navigation - Plotting with Triangles

120 230 views | 6 May. 2015

Capt. Jeff Sylvia

Capt. Jeff Sylvia explains the different plotting tools mariners have at their disposal, and weighs their benefits. He then explains how to use plotting triangles on a chart and why they might be easier to use than a roller plotter or parallel ruler.

Looking to become a licensed mariner or continue your professional maritime training? Obtain your training and certification with Northeast Maritime Institute. We offer on-site and online training for US and International seafarers. Visit www.northeastmaritime.com for more information.

Explore and subscribe to our YouTube page for more maritime content!

Copyright © Northeast Maritime Institute

jeremy wright

At the 8:30 mark you use the second triangle to move the first triangle away from the plotted course to get to the meridian. Might it have been more accurate to hold the second triangle on the plotted course and then slide the first triangle until it's converging lines meet on a meridian. This would allow you to visually check that the first triangle is both directly on the plot line and the converging points line up at the meridian. You could only do it this way if your course is at least somewhat off of due North or south.

john smith

Your voice is so soothing.


Very clear explanation. :) Thank-you.

edgardo alimagno

Barabing baraboom.


You are awesome, Sir!

Gerald Perry

Thank you for sharing this video sir! You explained these techniques very well!

Damy Liy

Nice video.. I am triangle user, It is the best way to plotting :D

Capt. Govind Rana

super n simple tutorial by capt. jeff , thanks !

kahsai Gobezai

Very useful. Thanks Captain.

Myles Davis

Great Video. It's obvious that you know what you are talking about. I would love to see you give more instructional videos. Thanks

Damage, Inc.

Rulers are way less confusing.

Gordon Brown

Looks like you only need one triangle for everything you just did.

Ross Williams, DC

I wish I had watched this yesterday before I bought the "Weems" roller plotter. Back to West Marine to exchange for triangles. Thank you for a great clear explanation.

Julian Pearson

I've not used triangles until I saw this video. Thought I'd buy some and give them a try. Looks like I've got a drawer full of stuff to go on eBay now. I'm converted.

Alex Newman

Just a tip that is a habit of mine that I'm keen to share.
For plotting a course or bearings with triangles, place your pencil on the point you're starting on or taking a bearing of and place the triangle touching the pencil. Then run the triangle up keeping the focal point on the meridian so it twists to line up on your course.
They are great and should be the standard plotting tool on all ships.
Love the American enthusiasm

Wesley Buff

Often times in drafting the edges are beveled with a hollow under the running surface or with dimples to raise the pattern such that ink can not touch the close fit surfaces and wick down the length of your work leaving a massive puddle. I could not tell the direction of the bevel well in the video, but that is one reason for providing a bevel if on the underneath. The knobs may be on the wrong side for that possible answer to fit the situation though.

Go AdventureSail

Check out the Portland plotter....

Daniel Rodríguez Pérez

Very well explanation

Fredric Itzkowitz

The triangles give the course True, what if the question asks for magnetic course? Do you have you use the Compass Ross for that?

Abdul K Khan

Great Instructor.


Everyone needs professor like u...thnxx a lot...

Jeth Goboy

thank you capt more power!

Nate Ashinhurst

Great video! This will be extremely helpful in comparing the 3 tools to my Midshipmen.

Michel Lavau

Thanks, Captain!

grupa 211

So, the point is, that triangles are superior and everything else sucks

Sándor Arányi

Lots of thanks for your clear explanation!


I found even better way- ECDIS. Joking! Thanks for this useful lesson!


Thank you. This was a big help. I had wondered if there was something better than parallel rules.

Tiberiu Nicolae

smack smack smack smack... good info though

Marcel D

I will be looking into using triangles now! Thanks.  
In your example, you could have opened up the parallel ruler to full extension and use the "inside" edges. But triangles are easier.

rabukan 58

Badabing Badaboom!

Jaber Jaber

Good job

John Schofield

Hey Cap. Your roll bar has it's own protractor! ;-)

H Rothermel Junior.

very interesting.. I just became involved with plotting courses, and I find triangles better than all other gadgets that I purchased .

Morgan Morales

Whats the scale of that chart youve used sir?


This guy's pretty funny.

Collin Courtois

I believe a "combination" of all these tools would be the Power and Sail Squadron ruler... Easy cheap and precise.... Just my 2 cents :-)

Terry Hagan

never seen the "2 triangle" method but it looks good, i always use parallel rules with 24" ruler, or "Protractor with line" i find the protractor with line is very easy because u can mark on the protractor your Dev and Cor and plot

Henrik Larsen

Nice an clear. Thanx Capt. ? U learned me to use triangels ???


awesome, helped me to recalled how to use it again. thks

Joe Castanza


Dallas tek

WWow loved the insturction!!1

gerard taylor

thanks for that, video

Steven White

People that smack while they talk gets on my nerves. But a good instructive video.

Azula Mikazuki

where can i buy a good quality one ? i tried ebay and the quality was shit..... i prefer using this over parallel ruler for plotting...

Rachel Morneau

Great advice!

Giordan Claridad


Bhaskar A

Nice explanations

Church of Philadelphia

First video and subscribe right away. Your a ? very informative.

Jonathan Friedman

Terrific! Thanks!

Sean Hesketh

I have always had a fear of triangles. You cured me in ten minutes flat ! Within five minutes of watching this Iwas using triangles with confidence. I am a keen amateur sailor but have been a teacher (of English) forfifteen years. I can honestly say this is the best piece of teaching I've seen in a very long time.Many thanks Captain Jeff.

Cote Azur

Does anyone abroad use the Japanese Inoue-type triangles by any chance?

Abubakarr Kamara

Very clear and concise


Very informative and clear!

Sno Bird

Been using parallels since I was a kid, this old dog learned a new trick. Thanks :)

Nick Palfrey

Capt Jeff - you have just saved my bacon on a Yachtmaster Course! Thanks a bunch!!!

Captain Mike Hawaii

Excellent presentation, I struggle with the slide rules so hopefully this will help, especially rolling around at sea.


Amazingly clear and helpful video Capt Jeff, thanks very much!


No, you don't 'need' two triangles. Use of one triangle with any other plain straight edge is very common. A longish STD ruler (or slide rule) with straight sides could be the best.

Giant Billar

Nice Capt ... its very usefull ... thank you

Christopher Ratcliffe

I always like to use triangle ruler ?

Robert Stancer

Jeff, a very informative video, thanks. But, can you tell me something, do i have to get those sorts of tattoos you have on your arms to be a 'proper' sailor?


Lmaooo i scrolled through my liked videos and this is my first liked video O,O

Blue Spray

Very convincing -- and nice tatts!

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The Soil Texture Triangle

65 993 views | 25 Aug. 2016

Soils is a super important

Soils is a super important topic in permaculture and understanding what is already on the ground is a good starting point. This video shows you how to classify your soil in the different categories used by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Then you can properly categorize and communicate with folks who you may need to bring on site such as earthmovers, engineers, and soil scientists.

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Sudha Joshi

A very informative straightforward lesson sir..You helped me a lot as today is my bio practical...

Star D

But how how do you know when to draw the line horizontally and when to draw the line diagonally? (coming from an environmental science class hehe)



Lennox Francis



Hi, so if it’s between 2, can we write both or any? Will it be correct?


Thank you so much! I have a soil lab tomorrow and your video was informative :)


Really appreciate this video!


That's a pretty handy graphic

Must Bee Kiddin' Farm

Great information. Thanks!

Elbarnousy maryam


Mike Hunt

what type of soil is it if the point falls on a line between two different types of soil? For instance, what if the composition was 50% clay, 40% silt, and 10% sand. Would it be clay, or silty clay?

giuseppe mingolla

Hi....This material is under copyright or copyleft?

Daniel Rowley



Nice little subliminal ad for the nursery in there lol

Joseph A.

Thanks :) , very informative and straight forward .

Mia Rosario

tysm extremely helpful


Thanks Nic, I learned something today.

sophie rubio

this makes so much sense, thank u!!


This was great thank u sir


It took you half the video to get to the fucking point


it now makes a lot of sense thank you!


pov: youre here because of your science job

Mom By The Sea

Free air guitar? This is the best class ever!

alanna wells

You have saved my life.

Leonardo Shibata

Nice video! There is also this USDA tool here: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/soils/survey/?cid=nrcs142p2_054167 where you put the % of each component and it plots the graph and tells which type of soil you have. And a downloadable excel version is available.

Joycee Sky

Can u tell me what is the benefit of classifying the soil by using this texture triangle class?


Mexicans are bad I hate dark people

FRNDS Forever

Do u say saperate triangle


This is Amazing

Alex A

Lee, leave now or else John will pay

summy smile!

The choice of song blends beautifully.


Thank youu !! It helps me a lot ?I thought it is really difficult to understand this hehe