Vessel operators transiting St. Mary’s River, between Lake Superior and the lower Great Lakes, have a new nautical chart to help lessen the dangers inherent in this narrow and complicated waterway. The first edition of Chart 14887 (St. Marys River – Vicinity of Neebish Island) is available this week as a paper print-on-demand chart, PDF, and raster navigational chart. The electronic navigational chart will be available by March, in time for the beginning of the shipping season. (UPDATE, 2/12/14: NOAA ENC US5MI50 is now available.)
Coast Survey has built the chart from original sources, providing the highest standard of accuracy for hydrographical and topographical features and aids to navigation. The chart provides large-scale (1:15,000) coverage of the up bound and down bound channels of the St. Mary’s River – one of the busiest waterways in the nation. Over 4,100 transits of commercial and government vessels move about 75 million tons of cargo through the 300-day shipping season.
Paper nautical charts hold a special spot in a sailor’s heart – and in the chart table. The October announcement that the federal government will stop bulk lithographic printing of nautical charts brought some understandable angst to boaters – but fear not! NOAA may be changing the chart production process but we will NOT stop the production of paper charts. We are working with private companies to make them better: printed in brighter colors and available for fast delivery to your door. Most importantly, they are up-to-date to the moment you order it. These improved paper charts are NOAA-certified print-on-demand (POD) nautical charts, created by NOAA Coast Survey cartographers.
While the lithographic paper charts will go away in 2014, anyone can order almost* any printed NOAA chart any time, from the comfort of your home, office, or boat. Just bookmark nauticalcharts.noaa.gov/pod to find the NOAA-certified chart seller who will print your chart “on demand” and ship it to you.
For more than ten years, since NOAA introduced its electronic navigational charts, you have needed to purchase a specialized chart display system to view the NOAA ENC® as a seamless chart database. Starting today, you don’t need a system to view the ENC depictions; you can use Coast Survey’s new web-based viewer called NOAA ENC® Online. (IMMEDIATE CAVEAT: You still need a specialized display system to use the multi-layered functional data that make ENCs so valuable. NOAA ENC downloads are still free to the public.)
In case you missed it, yesterday we announced an end to government printing of lithographic nautical charts, effective April 13. Lithographs are part of Coast Survey’s proud heritage, since we started using that printing process for mass-producing charts for the Civil War, and it will be hard to see the era end. (See NOAA announces end of traditional paper chart.) While lithographic printing is scheduled to stop, however, the public will continue to be able to purchase NOAA paper charts as up-to-date print-on-demand products.
As one product ends, another begins. We also announced yesterday that our latest addition to the nautical charting portfolio is the new Portable Document Format (PDF) nautical chart, which provides up-to-date navigation information in this universally available file type. Initially, the PDF nautical charts will be available for a three-month trial, from October 22, 2013, to January 22, 2014.
Coast Survey’s mandate is to provide nautical products that help make maritime transportation safe. As we develop and improve navigational products for commercial mariners, we also look for opportunities to serve the recreational boating community. All of the products listed below are available as free downloads.
BookletCharts™ are nautical charts in booklet form, downloadable for printing from home computers. People like to put each page into a sheet protector, and keep the updated notebooks on their boats.
For the tons (and tons) of useful information that can’t be put on the nautical charts, check out the United States Coast Pilot®, nine volumes of supplemental information important to safe and enjoyable navigation.
It was only ten short years ago that NOAA began issuing electronic navigational charts (NOAA ENC®) as official products. As we look back, the promises of a product that emerged a decade ago continue to beckon, with even more uses and greater usage.
“We still make the traditional paper charts that mariners have depended on, but the world of navigation is changing, and Coast Survey is helping to lead that change,” explains Rear Admiral Gerd Glang, director of NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey. “Increasingly, mariners use – and soon will be required to use – electronic systems and displays to view and manage the safe navigation of their ships.”
UPDATE: the beta testing period for MyNOAACharts has ended
Public is invited to try beta version of MyNOAACharts
As recreational boaters gear up for a summer of fun on coastal waters and the Great Lakes, NOAA is testing MyNOAACharts, a new mobile application that allows users to download NOAA nautical charts and editions of the U.S. Coast Pilot. The app, which is only designed for Android tablets for the testing period, was just released.
MyNOAAChart, which can be used on land and on the water, lets users find their positions on a NOAA nautical chart. They can zoom in any specific location with a touch of the finger, or zoom out for the big picture to plan their day of sailing. The Coast Pilot has geo-tagged some of the major references and provides links to appropriate federal regulations.
For the 65 years since the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey issued the first edition of U.S. Chart No.1 in 1948, mariners have had a standard guide for understanding the symbols, abbreviations and terms used on paper nautical charts. In a major step forward, a new edition of that guide also describes the symbols specified by the International Hydrographic Organization for the display of electronic navigational charts (ENC) on Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems (ECDIS).
Several maritime nations produce their own versions of Chart 1. The U.S. Chart No. 1 describes the symbols used on paper nautical charts produced by NOAA and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). The new U.S. Chart No. 1 is the first “Chart 1” produced by any country to show paper and electronic chart symbology side by side.