How to Navigate Coral
Avoiding Those Beautiful & Stunning Dangers Beneath
Our Guide to Navigating Coral
We Look at the Key Ways to Navigating Coral Safely
The ability to navigate coral when necessary is an essential skill. There are the obvious dangers to going aground, but it’s important to give consideration to the stunning underwater landscape beneath. It is a true wonder of nature and, as we all know, take many years to evolve.
In good light conditions, coral reefs show up clearly and are relatively easy to avoid. In bad light, reefs are difficult to distinguish.
We hope you enjoy our lighthearted tips, they are intended as a guide only and you should not rely on this post alone. If you do have something to add, or a story to tell, we hope to improve on the information using your comments and suggestions (scroll to the bottom to leave us a comment).
It is a true wonder of nature and, as we all know, take many years to evolve.
The Lighter the Blue
THE LIGHTER THE BLUE, the shallower the water should be the coral pilot’s mantra, and green/brown usually means a coral head lying close beneath the surface. In bad light it’s best to have the sun high in the sky and, if possible, limit your sailing among coral to within two or three hours either side of local noon. Better, too, to have the sun at your back, especially if it is lower in the sky.
Post a Lookout
Post a good lookout, preferably up the mast. The height will ensure that reefs can be easily seen in time for avoiding action. Lookout and helmsman should be wearing polaroid sunglasses, which cut out glare and dramatically improve visibility.
Arrange some simple hand signals between lookout and helm. The vigorous continental arm waving approach can be highly entertaining, but is rather hit and miss, and generally more hit than miss. It is often enough to simply differentiate between pointing at a danger (perhaps with a single finger) and indicating a required turn (with a flat hand). Both signals can be accentuated with movement, but the danger of confusing them is obvious.
Find a Transit
One last tip on entering lagoons. Passages through barrier reefs are notoriously difficult to spot. Try to confirm your line with a visual bearing onto the island, as chart datums are often uncertain in far-flung locations. It will help to keep you on track too – there is often a swell running, as well as a current.
Beyond the Reef
Do you have any comment on what we have suggested, or perhaps an idea of your own. Please leave us a comment below and we’ll be sure to respond.
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