Seminars for Recreational Boaters  

Captain Monahan offers seminars tailored to the specific requirements of you and your group.


Getting the Most from your Marine Radar 

Advanced Collision Avoidance and Navigation - Marine Radar

Understanding Tides and Currents 

Weather Strategies for the Inside Passage

Managing Tidal Rapids

Managing Your Boat Like a Pro 

Getting the Most from your Marine Radar

Basic Radar

Length -- 6 hours (understanding, controlling and interpreting the display; using the controls for greater  

               accuracy; basics of collision avoidance and navigation, new technology)

    -3 hours (understanding, controlling and interpreting the display; rudiments of collision 

     avoidance and navigation)

In order to be able to use a marine radar to advantage, users must first feel comfortable with their equipment. Many are afraid to adjust their radar's controls for fear they will never be able to get the radar set up properly again. As a result, their radars are permanently out of tune. 

 This seminar removes the fear of radar. After completion of the seminar, students will be able to set up their radars for best results and interpret the display under challenging conditions.

With a few simple techniques, Captain Monahan teaches the student 

  • how to identify land-masses, other vessels and transient targets, 

  • simple techniques for effectively using radar for collision avoidance and navigation, 

  • how to interpret and control the display under a variety of conditions,

  • how to recognize and compensate for rain and sea clutter, interference, ghost images and side-lobe echoes

  • the new generation of AIS, integrated radar systems which combine chart and radar technology

  • the strengths and weaknesses of modern solid-state radar, doppler radar and broadband radar

With real-life screen-captures, and other audio-visual effects, Captain Monahan will soon have you managing your radar like a pro. 

Download instructions for setting up a raster-scan radar


Advanced Collision Avoidance and Navigation - Marine Radar

Length -- 6 to 8 hours

Basic Radar seminar is a pre-requisite for this seminar.

Includes advanced understanding of

  • integrated navigation systems, including AIS and Electronic charts/GPS

  • advanced navigation techniques, especially for navigation in remote areas where electronic charts are not dependable

  • managing and understanding the issues inherent in modern integrated navigation systems 

  • advanced collision avoidance techniques and radar plotting

  • using and understanding ARPA (automatic radar plotting aid)


Each student receives a copy of the Shipwrite poster Using Radar for Collision Avoidance

Understanding Tides and Currents

Length  -- 6  hours 

(Also includes most of  the material in "Managing Tidal Rapids" seminar)

A good understanding of west coast tides and currents can mean the difference between a smooth ride and a rough ride. The Inside Passage has a water circulation system where the tides power strong currents around the islands and in many of the key passes. In fact some of the strongest tidal currents found anywhere in the world can be found on the west coast.

 In this session, attendees will begin by learning how the lunar and solar cycles create the various stages of the tidal and current cycles. The seminar will focus on understanding the dynamics of west coast tides and currents, from the slow but inexorable circulation of currents in Johnstone Strait to the behavior of currents in tidal rapids and how the geography of the west coast changes those currents, for better and worse.

The seminar will provide an understanding of how tides and currents are predicted; how the skipper can use tide tables and other resources to plan safe passages through tidal rapids; and how to plan for tidal currents to assist (rather than resist) a vessels progress. Using specific examples of tidal currents and rapids on the west coast the seminar will lead to an understanding of tide and current interactions anywhere.

 The seminar also examines wind, wave and current interactions and the effects of shallow water. Wind against current interactions can lead to ugly and uncomfortable seas. But when they work together, big seas can become manageable, and small waves almost completely disappear. Using the knowledge, the resources and the techniques in this seminar, skippers will learn how to take advantage of back-eddies, and when wait for a few hours to obtain a safer and more comfortable ride.

Download a secondary station calculation sheet

Weather Strategies for the Inside Passage

Length -5 hours (detailed strategies for the south coast and the north coast year-round)

Inside Passage weather patterns are confusing if you don't understand the basic forces that shape the local weather in the Georgia Strait, Johnstone Strait and the North Coast. 

Once you understand the dynamics of the most common weather patterns that occur in the region, you can develop strategies that take advantage of the weather patterns for a more comfortable and more enjoyable cruise.

This seminar focuses on the unique weather patterns of the west coast, and how to make decisions based on weather forecasts.

 The topography of the west coast influences the weather in unique ways, and large-scale weather patterns end up causing very localized effects, by focusing waves and swells on certain areas and not on others, and by accentuating the wind in certain locations. This results in an extraordinarily complex regime of local effects which must be taken into consideration when planning a cruise or when making daily decisions about when to travel and when to stay at anchor.  

 The seminar will also introduce skippers to key concepts of mid-latitude depressions, offshore highs, and inflow and outflow winds, and their interactions with the geography of the Inside Passage. Certain locations must be avoided in certain winds, and other places offer safe passage even during high winds. The seminar also examines the sequence and timing of weather events in specific locations.

 The seminar is not intended to teach actual forecasting of large scale weather patterns. Instead it will show skippers how to apply the information in weather forecasts and local weather reports, to better understand actual conditions in specific locations on the water.

Managing Tidal Rapids

Length -- 3 to 4 hours 

Seminar-includes general strategies for managing tidal currents, how to read the tide and current tables, specific strategies for managing Johnstone Strait and Cordero Channels as well as other tidal rapids. Also includes practice calculation  of proper timing.

For many, navigating Johnstone Strait and the rapids of the Inside Passage is a new challenge. Capricious currents that always seem to be working against one, mountainous seas and ominous calms add a new dimension to navigating this beautiful area of British Columbia. The result is that most folks are happy to cruise to Desolation Sound or the southern Gulf Islands, but are reluctant to travel north of Seymour Narrows. You may be surprised to learn that planning a trip north of Campbell River is not as difficult as you thought—Johnstone Strait and the nearby tidal rapids form an incredibly complex hydraulic system, but in a number of very important ways, it is predictable. 

Once you understand the tidal dynamics of Johnstone Strait, you can navigate in comfort using the characteristics of the system to speed you on your way, to save fuel, or to help you avoid the worst of the weather. In this three-hour seminar, Kevin Monahan will share  the local knowledge* you need to manage your passage through the tidal rapids of Cordero Channel and how to how to make the currents of Johnstone Strait work in your favour.

* Material drawn from Local Knowledge--A Skipper's Reference

Download a secondary station calculation sheet

Managing Your Boat Like a Pro

Length -- 8 hours

Developed jointly with Fine Edge Nautical Seminars

What does it mean to “Manage your boat like a Pro”?

This seminar presents a systematic program of boat and passage management consisting of critical knowledge elements, Standard Operating Procedures, checklists for maintenance and day to day management, and planning tools. Tools are provided for the management of all “phases of operation”, and preparation, planning, and maintenance cycles

In some ways, it is more challenging for a recreational boater to “manage like a pro” than it is for the true professional. Professional mariners depend on engineers to do the mechanical work, on deckhands to manage the deck, and on a cook to manage the galley. The recreational boater must combine elements of all four functions, engineer, deckhand, cook, and skipper into one, without burdening him (or her) self with so much responsibility that it takes the fun out of boating.

One way in which there is a significant difference between the competent recreational boater and the professional seaman, is that the professional is often compelled to travel and perform during marginal, weather conditions whereas the recreational boater is not. Very seldom is the recreational boater compelled to do the same. The true measure of a successful recreational boater is that he or she does not come home with horror stories, and tales of adventure or disaster. Instead, a truly successful boater avoids traveling in bad weather, does not experience critical failures of equipment and basically has no surprises. 

Modern commercial ship management operates on similar principles, Maritime safety management as practiced by modern captains now resembles the management of aircraft safety more than it does the “seat of the pants” type marine management of the last century.

Above all, this is a course about management, not about the details of seamanship. We strongly recommend the various seamanship and navigation courses available, especially those offered by the US and Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons.

The main principles of vessel management are captured in a number of conceptual areas. These areas are shared by big commercial shipping, but their basic principles are as applicable to small recreational boats as they are to supertankers.

A professional skipper skilfully manages his or her boat with time honed practices built upon experience. Experienced instructors will guide you step by step with techniques they have learned for a successful and safe means of managing your boat and enjoying your passage.

A course binder will be provided with all of the key information covered in the seminar. This will include checklists for use on your boat to allow you to quickly and easily use the techniques for each of your passages, whether for a single day or weekend or to visit a far off and remote destination. The techniques taught in this class apply to any powered vessel, sail or power. Specific sailing techniques will not be covered, but all planning, boat handling and management applies to either sail or powerboats.   

Click here for the seminar outline





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Last updated March 2024