High-Tech Paper Charts
Life — January 2003
|New information on an old topic can make your next voyage a successful one.|
Welcome to the new “Cruising Life,” which will be offering hands-on tips and information—much of it from other cruisers like you—designed to make your cruising experience more enjoyable and safe. This month we start with a new angle on an old subject: charts—specifically, paper charts. I know you serious cruisers are experts at interfacing your electronic GPS/chartplotter, radar overlay, and autopilot, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need paper charts. You do.
But until recently, by the time you rolled out your latest paper chart, it was outdated. Well, the same technology that gave us all those wonderful electronic toys at the helm has also enabled NOAA to provide truly up-to-date charts, literally hot off the press. Using sophisticated software and printing processes, the agency now updates charts on a daily basis, including Notice To Mariners and other critical changes. For inquiries and general information about the program, you can call NOAA at (800) 584-4683. Your question will be recorded and a reply will be forthcoming. To get a chart, simply log in at www.NauticalCharts.gov, where you will be referred to a chart agent in your area who can sell you one, either online or over the counter.
Here’s how the Web site works. Once you’ve logged on, click on the Print on Demand Charts link on the left side of the page (see illustration on next page). This link will let you access either a list of agents or a list of available charts. (At presstime, 979 out of the 1,000 charts that they publish were available.)
Say, for example, you are in Annapolis, Maryland, and need a chart for Palm Beach, Florida. Once on the site, scroll down and select Maryland. Here’s what you will see:
This article originally appeared in the March 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.