About Practical Navigator Training

Practical Navigator Training is designed to present useful navigation topics for professional and recreational mariners in a no-nonsense way. The courses are run by Christopher D. Nolan, a former USCG cutterman and current USCG reservist. Chris has over 16 years of sea time, with 12 years in command. He holds a 1600-ton USCG merchant mariner license upon ocean routes and a 3000-ton STCW license. The Practical Navigator project began in 2010 when Chris was the Commanding Officer of USCGC Jefferson Island in Portland, Maine. Recognizing a deficiency in Coast Guard navigational prowess as technology grew to dominate the bridge, Chris decided to combine his three hobbies of film-making, training, and maritime navigation to create funny and educational training videos for his crew and friends. After posting these early videos on YouTube and receiving positive feedback, Chris grew the program over the next several years while he was on sabbatical on his 34-foot sailboat in the Caribbean. There, he wrote, filmed, and edited the 11-part "Celestial Navigation" video series and wrote a navigational textbook called "The Cutterman's Guide to Navigation Problems." After returning to the USA and expanding his own merchant mariner license, Chris recognized that many Coast Guard Approved courses were overpriced and under-whelming in quality. So, he set out to expand the Practical Navigator project to include USCG-Approved training courses from 100-ton master all the way to Advanced Celestial Navigation. In 2015, Chris left the Coast Guard to pursue a career in sailing education, and has since recognized that as technology improves and the next generation of mariner advances up the hawsepipe, there is a significant need for high quality, low cost training, especially navigation training and USCG license preparation for navigation exams. Practical Navigator Training serves as a homeport for Chris' navigation training efforts and is meant to assist mariners in learning or improving the fundamentals of maritime navigation and USCG licensing.