COURSES        RADAR    

Radar teaches safe, efficient use of small-craft radar for piloting, chart navigation, and collision avoidance, including radar principles and practical matters of radar operation. A realistic PC based radar simulator is used in the course to illustrate radar measurements.

Prerequisites: Basic knowledge of chart reading, compass use, piloting, and dead reckoning is required.

Course Text: Radar for Mariners by David Burch (McGraw Hill, 2005)

Specific topics to be learned include:

How radar works
• Overview of system components
• Microwave pulse and beam structure
• Radar target characteristics
• Range of detection, scanner design, and mounting options
• Power requirements
• Radiation safety near radar scanners

Radar Operation
• Turning on, warming up, and initial adjustments
• Gain adjustments
• Use of anti-clutter controls for rain (FTC) and sea state (STC)
• Pros and cons of optional display modes: Head-up, North-up, and Course-up
• Optimizing pulse-length selection
• Measuring target range and bearing with VRM, EBL, and cursor mode
• Use of guard sectors and alarms

Interpreting the screen
• Optimizing radar picture for specific observations
• Radar shadows
• Effect of horizontal beam width on target images
• Effect of pulse length on target images
• Identifying interference and other unwanted echoes

• Use of radar to hold a desired course
• Use of electronic range and bearing line (ERBL)
• Finding and keeping track of position relative to prominent landmarks
• Identifying distant harbors or channels
• Rounding a corner at a safe distance off the shore
• Anchoring with radar

Position navigation
• Coordinating electronic chart displays with the radar screen
• Quick radar range and bearing confirmation of GPS positions
• Accurate multi-range fixes using radar

Collision avoidance
• Use and value of target trails and wakes
• Tracking targets with EBL and VRM
• Estimating time, range and bearing to closest point of approach (CPA)
• Figuring true course and speed of approaching targets (relative motion diagram)
• Determining expected running lights based on radar observations
• Rules of thumb for radar maneuvering
• Radar reflectors
• Overview of ARPA and AIS

Radar and the Navigation Rules
• Role of radar in evaluating risk of collision
• Cautions (limitations) for radar use cited in the Rules
• Rules’ requirements for checking various ranges and adjustments
• Application of Rule 19d—when detecting a converging target by radar alone