Here we just make a list of sources and short descriptions. Many we can obtain as PDF files, which in turn can be stored in a tablet or computer in an ebook reader such as Kindle, ADE Reader, or Apple Books. This has the advantage of organizing the pubs, with an opportunity to add bookmarks, highlights, and annotations. (This procedure of saving references and manuals deserves another short note at some point.)
If we had to buy all of these in print it would be very expensive and take up a lot of weight and space on the vessel. Luckily most are free or inexpensive PDF documents. We also mention here some of our own publications that help with the use of these official references.
Most of these publications have annual updates, but having any edition of each is step one. In some cases the updates are few and often cover technical details that will not affect small craft navigation.
Nautical ChartsThis is a topic on its own, which we address several places. There are paper charts and electronic charts. These days it is likely we carry some combination of both.
Navigation Rules Handbookthe version we use in class more convenient as it has links and bookmarks, and is set up to display the correct facing pages. Or even better, copy this html page to your desktop and use it. We call this one the Pocket NavRules Handbook, which highlights the differences between US Inland and International Rules. The Canadians have their own inland rules, called Canadian Modifications. We strongly recommend carrying a printed copy of the nav rules on board for study and reference as needed.
Chart No. 1
US Coast PilotsInland and Coastal Navigation: For Power and Sailing Vessels.
Sailing Directions EnrouteSailing Directions Limits Graphic) to find the right volumes you need. These books include much of the legal details needed for entering international ports as well as the weather and navigation information. Unfortunately, the charts they list are the NGA charts that are way outdated. Some are still available from NOAA print on demand dealers, but they are 20 to 30 years old. In essence, you have to use the information in these sailing directions to update these old charts if you use them, or get new charts from other agencies.
US Light Lists
International Light Lists
International Tide Tablestides and currents display of OpenCPN. It includes a version of xtides that covers international waters.
See these updated articles on tides and currents and how we access them and make our own annual tables since they discontinued the official annual tables in 2020 along with all the data in both Tables 2. NOAA also since 2020 no longer provides any international tide or current data.
International Current Tablesmembers with links at the IHO. See also the tides and currents display of OpenCPN. It includes a version of xtides that covers international waters.
Worldwide Marine Radiofacsimile Broadcast Schedules
Radio Navigational Aids, Pub 110
Pilot Chartsavailable at opencpn.org. Note that for climatic winds we are better off using the wind data from COGOW, which is based on actual satellite measurements.
International Code of Signals, Pub 102printed copy of this pub if desired.
Bowditch American Practical Navigator, Pub 9Table of Contents to see what is there—Chapter 6 actually explains the use and value of many of the books on this list. There is in Vol 2 a valuable Glossary as well. Parts are more detailed than we might need; others are excellent presentations in basic and celestial navigation, oceanography, weather, and (increasingly) electronic navigation. Volume 2 includes many tables useful for navigation. Note that this has become a dynamic publication, where improvements or corrections are just added to the online version. It is not clear yet how subsequent changes might be noted. Older versions have much more coverage of celestial navigation, maybe peaking in the '58 or '77 editions. (An aside: In the the latest version, check out second paragraph on page 304 for a reference to the Fit-Slope Method we developed here at Starpath.)
Air Almanac (PDF)note about it online and a short printed booklet (with ebook options) that discusses it in detail relative to the Nautical Almanac. It is for the most part redundant to the Nautical Almanac, but celestial navigators might want to save a copy of the the current year's Sky Diagrams for optimum sights selection.
US and International Radio Frequencies and ChannelsMarine_Radio_Resource.pdf).
International Standard Time Zones of the World
https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/graphics/ref_maps/physical/pdf/standard_time_zones_of_the_world.pdfIn principle we have this information in the Nautical or Air Almanac, which also includes which nations use daylight saving time and when, but it is hard to beat this up-to-date beautiful presentation.