Barefoot Navigation Course.


Barefoot Offshore Sailing School is pleased to announce the first-ever course on barefoot navigation, the use of no-tech and low-tech techniques for wayfinding at sea.


Designed by author and veteran sailor Jack Lagan exclusively for BOSS the course will be suitable for beginners as well as ASA- or RSA-qualified navigators.


The Barefoot Navigation course will consist of two parts: downloadable materials for pre-study; and one week of practical tuition on board a 40-50 foot vessel (dependant on class size) in the tropical waters of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Jack Lagan says: “The venerable history of navigation should not be scuttled in favour of the GPS set but, on the contrary, should be embraced to enhance the instinctive way-finding skills of all seafarers. The Barefoot Navigator is part history, part textbook and part polemic.”

Clients will be restricted to three – six slots depending on student make up for the course.

“Our objective is this.  After the course you’ll be a much better navigator than you were when you first stepped onto the boat.  You’ll boast new practical skills inherited from the seafarers of ancient times.  With practice, you will become confident enough to stand on deck, look at the sky, look at the sea around you and just kind of know where you are. You will be a shaman of the sea. You will be a Barefoot Navigator.” Jack Lagan



The textbook for the course will be Jack Lagan’s The Barefoot Navigator. In 2006 The Barefoot Navigator was nominated for the Mountbatten Maritime Prize, awarded annually “to the author of a distinguished publication that has made a significant contribution to maritime history”.


The pre-study package includes a re-imagining of the graphics, tailored to the sailing ground of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Here is a selection of reviews:

“The Barefoot Navigator arrived in mid-June, just as I was abandoning my desk for six weeks of long-overdue boat maintenance. I thought I’d take a quick look at it while I ate my lunch, and ended up reading it from cover to cover (and some parts more than once) over a period of several weeks.”

The Ocean Cruising Club, November 2006


“The Barefoot Navigator is a cleverly written little book that combines the history of the ancient art of navigation with the practical application of those techniques today.

Author Jack Lagan explores the achievements of the ancients — the Polynesians, Phoenicians, Arabs, Vikings and Chinese. He discusses methods they employed before even the most rudimentary technology was available. Lagan demonstrates how ancient navigators used wind, swell, sun and stars, along with birds and even marine mammals to estimate their position and hold course until they made safe landfall.

The book is filled with entertaining quotes and historical snippets. In addition, it provides a comprehensive reference section. There are many useful tables and charts… along with “do-it-yourself” instructions for constructing low-tech navigation tools, such as an improvised quadrant using a protractor, a needle compass and even a plywood ship’s log.

Lagan does not propose these ancient methods as substitutes for charts and modern day electronics, rather, he suggests that these age-old skills and techniques can help 21st century navigators develop a sixth sense for where they are and may come in very handy should the need for survival navigation arise.”

Ocean Navigator, November/December 2006


“Students of Polynesian history are familiar with tales of sailors crossing vast expanses of the Pacific. Lagan’s book, The Barefoot Navigator begins with a discussion of their ancient techniques before exploring other ancient navigators; Norse, Chinese, and Arab.

Lagan’s premise is that modern sailors are too dependent on electronic navigation tools and that those tools are subject to failure. In contrast the movement of sun and stars, ocean currents, and weather patterns have remained consistent for eons. The prudent sailor will know how to use natural patterns to safely navigate when electronics fail.

By following the historical development of navigational techniques, Lagan introduces complex topics in a simple, easy to understand manner. Along the way he shows how ancients used primitive navigation tools to find their way across oceans and deserts. Lagan instructs the sailor on building and using these tools built of string, sticks, and hands and fingers.

Informative and entertaining, an evening or two spent with The Barefoot Navigator will yield a wealth of knowledge of interest to any sailor, knowledge that might just help you reach your destination.”

Dave Lochner, NauticalReads, 2007


“Jack Lagan is both an entertaining writer and eminently pragmatic, and not afraid to question some cherished salty beliefs. He states at the outset that none of the traditional methods can approach the accuracy of GPS, and doesn’t for a moment advocate setting off without all the goodies that modern electronics can provide – but goes on to question why the sextant is still held up, by the RYA amongst others, as the gold-standard of traditional navigation — why not the quadrant or the backstaff? Why indeed?

So he steps back in time. The Pacific islanders, the Vikings, the Arabs, the Chinese, even the Pharaohs and the Phoenicians, all evolved strategies suited to their own particular needs and waters.”

The Ocean Cruising Club, November 2006



Jack Lagan is an award-winning author and documentary film-maker. He has sailed a junk in the South China Sea, dhows in the Arabian Sea and a schooner in the Bermuda Triangle. His sailing experience ranges from dinghy-racing to delivering charter yachts in the Greek Islands and living-aboard in the Bahamas.

In addition to The Barefoot Navigator he wrote A B Sea: A Loose-footed lexicon, an entertaining and informative book about the language and lore of seafaring now in its second edition.


“The subject of wayfinding has long been a hobby of mine. Having searched the internet for everything i could find on the topic, I was saddened by the limited amount of information available. I first ran across the book “The Barefoot Navigator” in a store and grabbed it, thinking that this would be just a reprinting of the information i had found on the internet, but upon reading it, found it to be so much more! I felt that these traditions should not die and that this topic deserved to live on and so, was inspired to contact Jack, in the hope that he could assist in rekindling this ancient flame. Upon contacting Jack, I found him to be equally enthusiastic about offering this course to sailors far and wide and hence was born the Barefoot Navigator Course. I hope you enjoy it, as much as we have enjoyed creating it!” Philip Barnard – Professional Offshore Racing Sailor – Managing Director of The Barefoot Group of Companies.



If you would like to learn more about our Barefoot Navigation course, please contact us at


Pricing: $1,699.00, Includes loads of free extras!

This course is of exceptional value and is the only one of its kind being offered! Course places are limited so you will need to book early!