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Small craft nautical charts adjust to boaters’ needs

Reformatting “pocket-fold” charts, eliminating facilities table

Small-craft chart facility tables will be phased out over the next five years.
Small-craft chart facility tables will be phased out over the next five years.

Boaters who use NOAA’s small craft charts will notice two changes over the next few years.

Coast Survey is reformatting eleven small-craft charts that had been designed for folding, and will convert them to conventional paper charts as new editions are prepared. NOAA “pocket-fold” nautical charts 11302, 11303, 11314, 11390, 11393, 11402, 11404, 11432, 11433, 18661, and 18662 will retain their chart numbers but will eventually have the look and feel of the 1,026 nautical charts available from NOAA-certified “print-on-demand” agents.

The other change affects all small-craft charts. In recognition of the increasing popularity of smart phones and cruising guides as sources of information about facilities, Coast Survey will drop the facilities table that was historically printed with paper small craft charts and displayed on raster navigational charts (NOAA RNC®). To prevent confusion, cartographers will also remove the corresponding magenta facility numbers from the chart itself.

Small-craft charts will designate of sewage pump-out facilities with a magenta “P” symbol.
Small-craft charts will designate sewage pump-out facilities with a magenta “P” symbol.

Not all facilities information is being removed, however. Charted features (as opposed to the text tables) will remain. Additionally, the charts will improve the designation of sewage pump-out facilities, adding a magenta “P” symbol where the pump-outs are located.

When Coast Survey first began providing information about boating facilities, decades ago, boaters traveling long distances had few sources of information about the public services offered by marine facilities. Nowadays, however, up-to-date information is as close as the smart phone in the captain’s vest.

“For the past 50 years, NOAA has relied on the diligent reports of thousands of United States Power Squadrons members to update the facilities tables,” said John Nyberg, chief of Coast Survey’s Marine Chart Division. “Thousands of members have given us yearly updates on hundreds of boating facilities, and we owe them our appreciation for providing the information we sorely needed.”

During the next two years, Coast Survey staff will work with the United States Power Squadrons to strengthen the Cooperative Charting Program that facilitates data exchange for chart evaluations and navigational safety.

NOAA cartographers will gradually remove the facilities tables as they update the charts with new data and publish new editions. The process will likely take five years or more.

February 9, 2015

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