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Soundings
(Bowditch, The American Practical Navigator, 2002)
Charts show soundings in several ways. Numbers denote individual soundings. These numbers may be either vertical or slanting; both may be used on the same chart, distinguishing between data based upon different U.S. and foreign surveys, different datums, or smaller scale charts. Large block letters at the top and bottom of the chart indicate the unit of measurement used for soundings.

SOUNDINGS IN FATHOMS indicates soundings are in fathoms or fathoms and fractions. SOUNDINGS IN FATHOMS AND FEET indicates the soundings are in fathoms and feet. A similar convention is followed when the soundings are in meters or meters and tenths.
This is a chart with depths shown in Fathoms and feet.
Soundings are supplemented by depth contours, lines connecting points of equal depth. These lines present a picture of the bottom. The types of lines used for various depths are shown in Section I of Chart No. 1. On some charts depth contours are shown in solid lines; the depth represented by each line is shown by numbers placed in breaks in the lines, as with land contours. Solid line depth contours are derived from intensively developed hydrographic surveys. A broken or indefinite contour is substituted for a solid depth contour whenever the reliability of the contour is questionable. This is a label found on NOAA nautical charts that says 'Soundings in Fathoms, (Fathoms and Feet to Eleven Fathoms) at Mean Lower Low Water.

Depth contours are labeled with numerals in the unit of measurement of the soundings. A chart presenting a more detailed indication of the bottom configuration with fewer numerical soundings is useful when bottom contour navigating. Such a chart can be made only for areas which have undergone a detailed survey. Shoal areas often are given a blue tint. Charts designed to give maximum emphasis to the configuration of the bottom show depths beyond the 100-fathom curve over the entire chart by depth contours similar to the contours shown on land areas to indicate graduations in height. These are called bottom contour or bathymetric charts.

The side limits of dredged channels are indicated by broken lines. The project depth and the date of dredging, if known, are shown by a statement in or along the channel. The possibility of silting is always present. Local authorities should be consulted for the controlling depth. NOS Charts frequently show controlling depths in a table, which is kept current by the Notice to Mariners.

The chart scale is generally too small to permit all soundings to be shown. In the selection of soundings, least depths are shown first. This conservative sounding pattern provides safety and ensures an uncluttered chart appearance. Steep changes in depth may be indicated by more dense soundings in the area.

The limits of shoal water indicated on the chart may be in error, and nearby areas of undetected shallow water may not be included on the chart. Given this possibility, areas where shoal water is known to exist should be avoided. If the navigator must enter an area containing shoals, he must exercise extreme caution in avoiding shallow areas which may have escaped detection. By constructing a “safety range” around known shoals and ensuring his vessel does not approach the shoal any closer than the safety range, the navigator can increase his chances of successfully navigating through shoal water. Constant use of the echo sounder is also important.

This is a nautical chat showing depths in feet.
Abbreviations listed in Section J of Chart No. 1 are used to indicate what substance forms the bottom. The meaning of these terms can be found in the Glossary of this volume. While in ages past navigators might actually navigate by knowing the bottom characteristics of certain local areas, today knowing the characteristic of the bottom is most important when anchoring.
This is a Channel Tabulation found on a NOAA chart.  It shows depths for about a dozen channels.  For each channel it shows the controlling depths for left outside quarter, left inside quarter, right inside quarter, and right outside quarter.  In addition, it shows the date of survey plus the channel project dimensions.
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