||Key Features of Print-on-Demand Charts|
- Updated Weekly. Kept up to date with critical corrections from Notices to Mariners and other corrections (such as wrecks, rocks, and obstructions) not yet published.
- Available Immediately. New editions available 2-8 weeks sooner than traditional NOAA paper charts.
- Local Distributors. Printed at multiple sites in the U.S. and overseas. Shipped next day via FedEx.
- Enhanced Readability. Printed in brighter colors so that the charts are easier to read. Additionally, you can order charts without the Loran grid for enhanced readability.
- Durable. Available in two durable versions: water-resistant paper (preferred by most mariners) and laminated.
- Added Value. Useful navigational information, such as tide tables, bridge clearances, and excerpts from the Coast Pilot, is included in chart margins. The information is specific to commercial or recreational mariner's needs.
Print-on-Demand Charts Versus Traditional Charts
Traditional paper charts can become quickly out dated. At best, a new edition of a traditional chart is printed once a year. More likely, it is printed once every several years. If a mariner purchases the latest edition of a traditional paper chart one year after it was printed, there is a year’s worth of accumulated changes not reflected on the chart. For example, features such as wrecks, obstructions, channel depths, landmarks, bridge clearance information, shoreline construction, and new aids to navigation might have changed during that year. Mariners must research chart update information in the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Local Notice to Mariners and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) Notice to Mariners. These corrections must then be applied manually. Manual application of chart corrections is time-consuming and prone to error. POD charts solve the chart-updating problem by using computer software to update the charts from a variety of sources on a weekly basis -- getting critical corrections to mariners in a timely manner.
Producing Print-on-Demand Charts
NOAA cartographers use graphics software and computers to update the charts quickly and create new editions. Because the new editions are saved as computer files, the cartographers can apply critical corrections to the master electronic version of a particular chart as soon as the corrections are received. NOAA's POD charts are updated on a weekly basis with information from the following sources:
Each day, newly updated chart files are made available to NOAA’s private-sector partners, who sell POD charts throughout the U.S. and overseas. NOAA does not sell POD charts directly to the public. When a chart is ordered, the POD distributor prints the electronic chart file that is up to date as of the instant the retail agent ordered it. Orders are processed each hour and shipped. Some retail agents place orders that are shipped directly to mariners. Other agents maintain an in-store supply of very current, high turnover charts that they sell directly to mariners.
- USCG Local Notice to Mariners
- NGA Notice to Mariners
- Canadian Notice to Mariners
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
- NOAA hydrographic survey
- U.S. Power Squadrons
- Various state and local government sources
In the lower left corner of each POD chart, there is an "Additional Corrections Through" box that identifies the last Notices to Mariners were applied.
POD charts are produced under the authority of the National Ocean Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA is the national hydrographic office for the United States of America (33 USC para 883a et seq.). NOAA applies to the chart all navigational content and is responsible for it. The data from which a POD chart is produced is certified by NOAA for navigational use. POD charts meet the requirements for the mandatory carriage of nautical charts published in Titles 33 and 46, Code of Federal Regulations, including the requirements for updating (FR 67:111, pp. 39695-39696).
NOAA POD charts are produced under contract by POD partners. NOAA is responsible for all navigational content of the charts. The POD partners do not alter the digital images; they print and distribute the chart images as updated by NOAA on a daily basis.