NOAA Announces Free Nautical ‘BookletCharts’

One of NOAA’s handiest navigation products, especially for recreational boaters, has been Coast Survey’s experimental BookletCharts™ — nautical charts that are easy to download and print from home computers. Coast Survey has now moved the BookletCharts from experimental stage into official production. Nearly a thousand newly updated BookletCharts are available free on the Web.

NOAA’s new official BookletCharts cover the 95,000 miles of U.S. coastline and the Great Lakes. The BookletCharts contain most of the information found on NOAA’s full-scale nautical charts, but it is presented as reduced-scale.

“It is especially appropriate that we unveil these easy-to-use nautical charts as recreational boaters begin to think about their boating adventures for 2013,” said Capt. Jon Swallow, chief of NOAA Coast Survey’s Navigation Services Branch. “NOAA’s nautical charts help to protect lives and property, and boaters should take advantage of these free nautical products.”

“Many boaters don’t use nautical charts, trusting local knowledge or their memories. But that can be dangerous, as seafloors constantly shift, shorelines erode, and dangers to navigation are discovered,” Swallow said. “BookletCharts will tell a boater about these developments, and will help ensure a safe voyage, whether it is around the bay or down the coast.”

Since the Booklet Charts are easy to access from the Web, easy to print, and easy to carry in a pocket, NOAA officials hope that tens of millions of recreational boaters who may not normally use charts will use these.

Several years ago, the Office of Coast Survey introduced experimental BookletCharts as PDFs in an 8½-by-11 inch format, to test public demand and use. The product has been tremendously successfully, receiving kudos by recreational boaters and boating organizations. Coast Survey has subsequently upgraded the chart displays and navigational information for the official product.

While BookletCharts are great for recreational use, they do not fulfill chart carriage requirements for regulated commercial vessels under Titles 33 and 46 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey, originally formed by President Thomas Jefferson in 1807, updates the nation’s nautical charts, surveys the coastal seafloor, responds to maritime emergencies and searches for underwater obstructions and wreckage that pose a danger to navigation. Follow Coast Survey on Twitter @nauticalcharts, and check out the NOAA Coast Survey blog at http://noaacoastsurvey.wordpress.com for more in-depth coverage of surveying and charting.

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