NOAA’s paper nautical charts get a needed update – literally


A nice history of NOAA chart printing & lithographic paper charts. NOAA made 169 copies of it’s nautical charts in 1844. After the lithographic printing process became available they were turning out 50,000 charts annually by the end of the Civil War and produced over 100 million maps and charts in World War II for Allied Forces.

A side note on up to date charts that we all take for granted today. During WWII the U.S obtained copies of the “most recent surveys” for some of the Pacific Islands they were invading. The source & date you wonder? The British explorations of the late 1700′s!!

With the demise of lithographic charts, Captains Nautical here in Seattle will continue to print the on demand charts as they have for years.

I will however miss the look of the “traditional” charts.

Originally posted on NOAA COAST SURVEY:

Paper nautical charts hold a special spot in a sailor’s heart – and in the chart table. The October announcement that the federal government will stop bulk lithographic printing of nautical charts brought some understandable angst to boaters – but fear not! NOAA may be changing the chart production process but we will NOT stop the production of paper charts. We are working with private companies to make them better: printed in brighter colors and available for fast delivery to your door. Most importantly, they are up-to-date to the moment you order it. These improved paper charts are NOAA-certified print-on-demand (POD) nautical charts, created by NOAA Coast Survey cartographers.

While the lithographic paper charts will go away in 2014, anyone can order almost* any printed NOAA chart any time, from the comfort of your home, office, or boat. Just bookmark to find the NOAA-certified chart seller who will print…

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Our newest ‘quad maps’ arrive just in time for ‘Cyber Monday’ shoppers


I don’t do much hiking, but many people that sail do hike, kayak, ski or other outside activities that a good back-country map would be very good to have along.

Originally posted on Ear to the Ground:

Snoqualmie Quad Map coverUpdated maps popular with hunters, backcountry hikers and others who use public lands for recreation are available now to order online (just in time for Cyber Monday when retailers are expecting some 131 million people in the U.S. to shop online for holiday gifts).

Each of our Public Lands Quadrangle maps covers about 1,600 square miles and details boundaries, trails, water features, access points and other information you’ll want to know when seeking out public lands in Washington State. Our maps are full-color and available only on paper (sorry, no downloadable versions at this time).

The three maps most recently updated cover quadrants near Snoqualmie Pass (including portions of King, Pierce, Kittitas and Yakima counties) and in Chelan, Klickitat, and Skamania counties. An additional map update published earlier this year covers the popular Banks Lake area in central Washington.

More information about the maps

How to order a map online or…

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Historic NOAA Charts

Seattle Harbor 1878

Seattle Harbor Chart – 1878
From //

Have you ever wondered what the Seattle Harbor Chart looked like in 1901?

NOAA is scanning over 30,000 charts from their 150++ year history and releasing the high quality scans free to the public for Students, Historians, Researchers and anyone to download and print.  The 300 dpi scans make the files a bit on the large side, however NOAA has done a good job making it easy to download the charts.

NOAA’s Historic Charts web site lets visitors search for charts by name or area on a map.  I clicked on Alki Point in West Seattle and they listed almost 500 charts!

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Safe Boating In Fog

Boat in fog heading toward you

Not what you want to see coming out of the fog at you.

With the arrival of the Fall fog season a few safety tips for boating in the fog are in order.

Before the fog sets in, make sure you have charts and a compass on board.  A GPS is also good to have, a handheld will work fine, make sure there are spare batteries.  A compass is very important because a straight line can not be driven in fog without help from a compass, radar (if you have shore features to use for navigation) or GPS.  Some people say “just watch the wake” fine and well, but watching the wake is not immune to small changes and variations and only helps to steer  in a straight line, if you need to change to a new course watching the wake is not too helpful and you need  another reference such as a compass or GPS.

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Happy Birthday & Thanks For The Visits


Happy Birthday

In August my web site was five years old and I wanted to thank everyone that has visited my site and to reflect a bit on how I got here.

Why a website?  Well it was on a whim, I stumbled across the domain name while playing around with names.  The domain name ( had been registered for a 10 years but had no content on it and seemed to never had any content on it.  The registration had almost expired and was up for renewal.  Never quite contacted the owner, but I did watch the registration go through the redemption period and finally revert to the wild for anyone to register, by this time having some sort of website was appealing, but had not a clue where to start.  I contacted my local ISP and they said just fill out the online form and all would be good, after a few days with nothing happening I was getting a bit worried, what had been a whim was something that was appealing so I contacted my ISP again and got an email back with a whoops, sorry and the log in info for my new website.  Then the learning curve started.

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Your Fire Extinguisher

A partially discharged fire extinguisher

A partially discharged fire extinguisher

On a cold Sunday last winter some friends were on their way from Kirkland to a Frostbite Series race on Lake Union when the Coast Guard pulled along side their sailboat.

The Coast Guard Boarding Officer ask if they had been boarded recently, their reply of “no” was followed by a very polite request by the Boarding Officer to allow the Boarding Party to come aboard their vessel for a safety check (note: the Coast Guard can board a vessel any time it’s underway).

My friends were confident they met the safety requirements having  inspected their boat using these guidelines  and a check list (PDF) I had sent them.   So outside of the normal nervousness that comes from having visitors from a boat with blue lights on the top, they were confident they would pass any check by the Boarding Officers.

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Where Are You In Lake Washington?

Locations in Lake Washington, Seattle

Locations in Lake Washington

This is a chart showing locations in Lake Washington I made to help the Seattle Harbor Patrol train new members on locations in Lake Washington.

If a friend asks you to meet them somewhere on Lake Washington and you don’t know where the place is, that is an annoyance and you need to get more information from your friend.

However, if you are the Harbor Patrol even a few seconds delay in heading to the proper place on or near the water when an emergency happens can mean the difference between life and death.

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Videos on Americas Cup Technology

Americas-CupRecently I was sent several videos of the amazing technology of the Americas Cup AC 72 boats.

I have arranged the videos below with a short description of each video so you can watch the ones you want.

I hope you enjoy the videos as much as I did.  The technology is amazing.  25,000 man hours to build one of the wing sails, boats under sail that fly above the water both upwind and down wind.

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