2011 Fellow

Presented to: Dr. David Burch

Citation: For sustained contributions to the teaching and practice of marine navigation and the development of innovative training materials used worldwide.


Dr. Burch is the founding director of Starpath School of Navigation in Seattle, WA, which has had more than 26,000 classroom students since 1978. He is the primary developer of the training materials used in the courses. Dr. Burch has more than 70,000 miles of personal sailing experience on all types of vessels in many parts of the world, including record setting ocean yacht race victories.

Dr. Burch developed onboard training programs used along the Inside Passage to Alaska, which can be generalized to any waterway. Among numerous other piloting and weather shortcuts, he developed rules for predicting tidal current speeds that are now used worldwide. He performed an extensive and successful search and rescue analysis for the USCG that resulted in a USCG personal commendation. In 2007, he carried out the daily weather and Gulf Stream routing that led to a world record in transatlantic rowing, now in theGuinness Book of World Records. The four champion rowers were Starpath navigation students. The technology and procedures used in that project were as advanced as any used for any vessel, crossing any ocean.

His present work concentrates on further design and development of the Starpath online courses in marine navigation and weather, which are now among the world's leading online navigation training programs, used by both recreational and professional mariners. His work is barometry includesThe Barometer Handbook, and the development and support of a free barometer calibration service for all mariners and meteorologists worldwide.

Dr. Burch helped establish U.S. national standards in the teaching of radar, celestial navigation, and marine weather to U.S. mariners by adapting and sharing Starpath courses and training materials with several hundred schools nationwide. He also provides instructor certification in these topics. Dr. Burch served as volunteer newsletter editor of the Foundation for the Promotion of the Art of Navigation, and voluntarily coordinates their website. He received the ION's Superior Achievement Award in 1985 and is the author of nine books on various topics of marine navigation and weather and six software programs, including a popular PC radar simulator used worldwide.