Take a Round of Bearings and Plot


  • Practice and develop the skill of taking and recording bearings to objects that can be used to plot or determine a boat’s position.

Setting Up the Drill:

  • Equipment: hand bearing compass for each boat; a nautical chart

Conducting the Drill:

  • People onboard boats take and record bearings to pre-selected land objects for later use in plotting their position.
  • Depending on the time available, each person may shoot a round or have each person shoot one or two bearings (at least three are needed).
  • When ashore the people plot their bearings.

Teaching Tips:

  • If not possible to correlate sufficient number of land objects, Google Earth can be used to add new objects to the nautical chart.
  • Plotting these new land objects is a good opportunity for people to demonstrate their ability to plot a geographic position.

Common Errors:

  • Eyeglasses with magnetic properties will distort the hand bearing compasses.


  • Safety & Rescue Boat Handling On-Water Skill Standard 5.1, and its rubrics
  • Start Powerboating Right! textbook pp. 125, 126