Bowditch Question


I’ve got a question about Bowditch’s American Practical Navigator. I know that the entire pdf is available for free download on the NGA’s site:

It is nice to have this reference available on an iPad. But it is not really conducive to heavy reading and using the tables. With the latest online version (2017) they have returned to a two-volume set and I would really like to get a hardcover set. But I’ll be damned if I know where to get one from. It seems all I can find are the older editions in the online shops.

Does anyone have any suggestions?


I have the old two volume hardcopy Bowdich, a fairly recent one volume hardcopy Bowdich, and the pdf. The pdf is too difficult to use, unless it’s the only option. I prefer to old two volume, unless I want to read about something “new” like ARPA or ECDIS.


No suggestions unfortunately but I love leafing through my grandfathers 1949 edition every now and then. They’ve really dumbed it down since then though. I’ll look out for the new two volume edition for sure.


West Marine


American Nautical has printed the 2017 volumes.


You can buy both volumes on amazon for cheaper. Both in a paperback version. You don’t get a cd. If you use amazon don’t forget to use the link from gcaptain to help John pay for us to use the site. Link will also work if you click it and the amazon app opens on your phone. Both volumes can be purchased off amazon for 42.98 free shipping if you have prime.


Thanks for your help. I browsed what is available at American Nautical and Amazon. It only seems paperback versions are available in the 2017 edition. Amazon does have a less expensive option w/ both volumes priced at $42.98 total, but I’m wary. The cheaper books have a different cover and the title is: “American Practical Navigator An Epitome of Navigation Bowditch 2017 Edition Volume I Paperback – Abridged, October 23, 2017.” I’m not sure what “abridged” means in this context, but I want the whole thing.

So I’m guessing a hardcopy set just isn’t available yet. If anyone knows otherwise, please post a reply.


There are paperback versions available but NGA said they aren’t going to print hardback versions due to the high costs. Hopefully somebody else will print them soon.


OK, I just did a quick comparison. The less expensive set on Amazon is published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (a self-publishing set-up). It seems to me that when they say “abridged,” it means that they have just published in b/w. So they have abridged all the color out of this set.

Since Bowditch’s is tough enough to read already, I think I’d splurge for a color copy. But if I’m going to splurge, I will wait for someone to print a hardcopy set.

I always feel really dumb when I try to understand textbooks written back in the day. And at this stage, I don’t need any more assistance in feeling dumb.


And I also just checked with MD Nautical Sales. According to them, no one has published a hardcover yet because the file that is available right now is full of errors. I noticed some of them when trying to read the download. There are a lot of mistakes in the column formatting.

His publishing source says that they are aiming to clean up the errors by this April and he expects that after that, someone will print some hardcovers.


I’d just use the last two volume edition, the one I have here is 1977. It’s still fully usable for nav problems.

If need be you could check the version you’re using against the 2017 on-line (or pdf etc) edition for changes. Presumably the CG will continue to use an older version in the exam room but it might be worth checking to see if that’s correct or not.


The good thing about the PDF is it’s searchable and you can have it on your phone so it’s always with you.


What if you bring the pdf on a thumb drive to kinkos and have them print it out and put it in a binder for you? Would be the most up to date version