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Fundamentals of Kayak Navigation, 3rd (Sea Kayaking How- To) Paperback – June 1, 1999

4.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Physicist, author of books on marine navigation, and columnist, Burch is primarily concerned here with coastal and sheltered water situations. Although basic chart reading, reckoning, and compass use are similar for all marine craft, kayaks are especially likely to be in shallow waters, limited in speed and visibility, subject to currents and wind, and without technological gear. The author emphasizes safety and enjoyment for new paddlers through compass use, dead reckoning, current crossing, and planning. Among the many books on navigation, this one's value lies in making the complex clear. Methods for finding distance off, figuring passage time, judging currents, etc., are clearly demonstrated and well illustrated by an experienced paddler. Roland Person, Southern Illinois Univ. Lib., Carbondale
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Author

Also from David Burch:
Celestial Navigation - A Complete Home Study Course
Radar For Mariners
Emergency Navigation
The Barometer Handbook
How to use Plastic Sextants - with application to metal sextants and a review of sextant piloting
The Star Finder Book - A guide to the many uses of the 2102-D Star Finder
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Sea Kayaking How- To
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Globe Pequot; 3rd edition (June 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 076270473X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0762704736
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,749,982 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Burch is the author of 13 books on marine navigation and weather and the director of Starpath School of Navigation in Seattle, WA, which had more than 30,000 classroom students, before the school switched to exclusively online training. He has more than 70,000 miles of ocean experience ranging from the Arctic ice edge to Tahiti and Australia in the Pacific and from New York to Panama in the Atlantic. He has sailed across the Pacific to Hawaii ten times, three times winning the Victoria to Maui yacht race, and in 1984 setting the elapsed time record for that passage for vessels under 38 feet long (the record lasted 16 years).

In powerboats, he delivered a 65-foot fishing vessel from New York to Seattle, via Panama and has made numerous coastal deliveries between WA and CA, AK, and Mexico. He navigated the only American entry (72-foot Cassiopeia) in the storm-ridden '93 Sydney to Hobart yacht race and later navigated that vessel on the '96 Vic Maui and Swiftsure Lightship Classic when she won first overall in the latter.

His magazine articles have appeared in Cruising World, Ocean Navigator, Sailing, and Sea Kayaker. His column "Burch at the Helm" has appeared in Blue Water Sailing magazine since 2009. His textbooks and workbooks are used by numerous schools, nationwide.

His work has been recognized with the Institute of Navigation's Superior Achievement Award for outstanding performance as a practicing navigator, and by a USCG citation for his successful weather and vessel performance analysis used in a search and rescue operation. In February, 2011 he was awarded Fellow grade in the Institute of Navigation. In May of 2011 he named a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Navigation in London.

From 2005 to 2010, he has served as the editor of the quarterly newsletter of the Foundation for the Promotion of the Art of Navigation.

David is the author and developer of several software training programs, including the Starpath Radar Trainer, the world's most popular PC radar simulator and Starpath Weather Trainer Live, both used by individuals and schools, in several countries.

On the academic side, he is a past Fulbright Scholar with a Ph.D. in physics.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The complete guide to finding your way and getting there safely. Burch, the director of the Starpath School of Navigation in Seattle, Washington, covers every topic that I can imagine is relevant to sea kayaking, including reading and using navigational charts, dead reckoning and piloting, determining paddling speed, estimating distance from a landmark, maintaining a heading while paddling in a crossing current, and tidal effects relevant to navigation. Each example is accompanied by clear diagrams which help illustrate sometimes difficult points. This book is written specifically with the kayaker in mind; it's not an adapted version of a small-craft navigation manual. Burch strove for completeness when writing this seminal manual, but also kept the layperson in mind by maintaining his clear style throughout the text. His years of teaching experience and immense navigational knowledge are obvious from reading Fundamentals. The book will take more than one read to absorb all important information and all the techniques the author decribes, but you will never need another source. This is the kayak navigation book to buy if you plan on doing any sort of ocean kayaking.
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Format: Paperback
This book tells you what you need to know about navigation to safely paddle a sea kayak in the great outdoors.
It tells you how to read a nautical chart, how to use a compass or GPS, and how to navigate by "the seat of your pants". The book desicribes fundamental saftey issues and tells you how to avoid getting run over by large ships, trashed in tide rips, or hopelessly lost in the fog .
This book is absolutely REQUIRED reading for anyone serious about covering large distances in a sea kayak. If you paddle, get this book and read it many times!!! The material in this book has to be second nature to you if you want to be safe in "big water".
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I purchased this book at the suggestion of a top sea kayaking coach. I should note that many paddlers consider this book the encyclopedia or "standard" of sea kayaking navigation books. The book is lengthy and appears to be comprehensive, however, I found it to be poorly organized and presentation lacking. It is a decent desktop reference on the subject, if you are looking for specific information on a sea kayaking navigation topic. It is tough to just pick this book up and learn navigation. It is really not layed out for self-instruction.

I would strongly recommend "Simple Kayak Navigation" by Ray Killan over Burch's book. It is concise, easy to understand, comes packed with excellent examples, and has just the right amount of humor.
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Format: Paperback
Burch's legendary book is full of information, but really is not a book I consult to renew my skills or solve a navigational problem. As an encyclopedia of navigation for small human-powered craft this book has use. It's a good read after one has mastered basic navigation from a practical standpoint. Simply too much information. Much of that contained could be edited severely and would be of more practical use. Burch is a great fact-presenter, but navigation is a subject that needs to be mastered through presentation of basic facts repeated in practical ways. Burch speaks too far over the heads of most beginning and intermediate navigators. This book didn't really make sense to me until I'd read it yearly for a number of years. Because of this fact, I only recommend it to navigation "junkies" who already have a firm understanding of all nav foundation topics.
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Format: Paperback
This is the definitive guide to compass and chart navigation by kayak. It is superbly written, giving detailed, sustained attention to every conceivable facet of compass and chart navigation. You won't find a more detailed guide. This is on par with some of the finer books written about navigation in any sphere of boating, not just kayaking, and it rewards re-reading with an ever-expanding knowledge of navigational concepts.

That said, it is not for the faint-of-heart. This is not a "Navigating for Dummies" book that can be quickly indexed and flipped to a quick answer. It is designed to be READ CAREFULLY, page-by-page, in sequence. Early concepts get returned to and expanded on in later sections. The best approach is probably to digest it chapter by chapter, familiarizing yourself carefully with the core concepts before moving on to subsequent chapters. If you do, you will end up knowing more about navigation than even some of the most experienced kayakers, and you will also have a host of quick tips (like estimating distance to an object on the horizon, etc.) that will make you able to reliably calculate your (relative) position even without a compass or chart.

I highly recommend this guide, but only if you are willing to actually read it. It will not serve you if you treat it like a "quick-reference" guide expecting to input a question and spit out an answer. Once you read it carefully, though, you'll be able to answer all of your own navigation questions very well.
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Format: Paperback
I was lucky enough to be a student of David Burch. I enrolled in a coastal navigation course offered by The Starpath School of Navigation back in 1987. Dr. Burch is a Rhodes Scholar, has a PhD in physics, is a world renowned navigator and author of many books. His credentials are impressive but his teaching skills are more so. The how and why I learned to navigate are as follows.

My fondest childhood memories took place on my grandfather's Grand Banks 42 motor yacht. As a boy we cruised the San Juan Islands, British Columbia, and Alaskan waters. Boating was in my blood! Sadly grandfather died along with my boating days. When I graduated from college, I decided to boat again after a long sabbatical. I knew nothing of boating other than I loved the water. Enrolling in Starpath was hitting a bullseye to attain my new goal.

The text used in the course was The Fundamentals of Kayak Navigation. Don't let the title fool you! The lessons learned in this book can be applied to paddleing a small kayak or skippering a VLCC - Very Large Crude Container ship. I learned more in six weeks than any class I attended at Eastern Washington University. I became an expert: chart reader, knew the difference between small scale and large scale charts, knew all the chart symbols, how to triangulate my position, the importance of reading depths, and what compass variation/deviation was. I learned how to find distance off land: using luminous and nominal ranges of light houses, use a hand held kamal, or use the height of an object's square root to find distance. I learned how to: navigate in pea soup fog, paddle or sail in strong currants, dead reckon, read buoys, navigate at night, and most importantly to feel confident.
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