Be sure to get the latest nautical charts!

A very nice concise overview of NOAA Chart products, printed, electronic and free PDF downloads.

Remember if you use electronic navigation systems (GPS Chart Plotters) to check which NOAA products if any are supported by your unit or the unit you are thinking of buying, some will use the NOAA electronic charts directly.

Hope springs eternal. Or maybe, given the cold and dreary May (at least on the East Coast), the adage should be re-phrased a bit, as we have “eternal hopes for spring.” In any case, boaters still have time to get their updated charts as boating season starts in earnest.

Coast Survey is constantly improving the nation’s nautical charts, giving customers a greater range of products and services. Which products work best for you?

If you use a paper chart, you have a couple of options.

Using a paper chart Paper nautical charts are the original risk management tools at sea. Photo credit: Tim Osborn, NOAA

For official NOAA charts, updated to the time they are printed “on-demand,” you should check out the list of 19 NOAA-certified printers. To ensure the integrity, authenticity, and responsiveness of NOAA chart distributors, NOAA certifies these agents to sell official up-to-date NOAA charts. (NOTE: NOAA will revoke distributor status…

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2 Responses to Be sure to get the latest nautical charts!

  1. Having a set of paper charts on board is still recommended for those times when Murphy’s Law take a bit out of your trip. One time I was making my way up the river and our chart provider failed to give us all the Columbia river charts. He didn’t think we were going all the way up to the Snake river in a 130 foot cruise ship. Thankfully we had old charts that we first used for planning then later as table covers (under glass tops) for passengers to follow us with. We use those chart until we got up to the snake and were able to get the rest of our ENC/RNC charts for the trip back.

    With the use of ENCs we can add or remove data to reduce clutter to display only the information we need. This helps reduce errors and speeds planning. A common mistake I find with many of my students is that they fail to erase all their past work which causes them to mix old plots with the new ones. “A clean chart is a happy chart.” I always say when an error is made because of old plots.

    There is also the cost of printing paper charts which just keeps climbing and the need to replace them more often as updates come out. No, I’m not going to mess with updating paper charts. It’s time consuming and it introduces errors when you’re updating them on four and half hours of sleep.

    While I’m ok with phasing out paper charts, I still think it’s important that charting on paper continues to be taught in maritime schools. Once you fully understand how to plot on paper, the chart-plotter is much easier to understand given all those abbreviations that are used.

    • captnmike says:

      I am also a great believer in paper charts also, with the PDF of Booklet charts available and the ability to print in different ways as well as the cruising books – there is no reason not to have some sort of chart on board for areas a boater might not get to very often or for planning purposes. Looking at a paper chart of a new area or an area I have not been to in a while makes it easier for me to visualize what I might encounter.

      yes commercial vessels like you were on have different requirements than a recreational vessel.

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