Do ENC-Based Print on Demand Charts Meet Carriage Requirements?

Are OceanGrax charts POD or PDF?

From U.S. Coast Pilot - 18 FEB 2024

When printed properly, PDF charts and POD charts are very similar, but PDF charts have not yet been approved to meet Federal regulations for paper chart carriage requirements as POD charts have.

Screen shot of the notice on NOAA POD chart.

Link to NOAA chart update tool Weekly Chart Updates

NTM also available via email

From the Coast Pilot linked above:

Paper Print on Demand Nautical Charts
(61) The content of Print-On-Demand (POD) charts is
updated weekly by NOAA with the most current U.S.
Coast Guard Local Notice to Mariners and other critical
safety information. POD charts are printed under the
authority of NOAA and shipped through partnerships
between NOAA and commercial providers. POD
information and a list of participating POD chart agents
can be found at

I couldn’t get the hyperlink to work until I copied and pasted into the URL box: U.S. Office of Coast Survey

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Here’s some background on this from 2020.


As such, vessel owners and operators may continue using official paper charts and publications in accordance with References (a) and (b) until the relevant regulations therein are amended.

Ref: (a) Title 33, Code of Federal Regulations, Parts 83, 161, and 164
(b) Title 46, Code of Federal Regulations, various parts

I may have missed something but I don’t see anything yet to indicate POD charts such as OceanGrafix don’t meet official carriage requirements nor I have I found anything to indicate chart corrections will be more difficult.

Good article on Marinelink: Electronic Navigational Charts: An Update and Some Issues

The Marinelink article is dated February 26, 2024 but appears to be based on a blog post from 2021.

If they’re printing a canceled chart then it wouldn’t meet carriage requirements.

It’s my understanding that they won’t be publishing updates for canceled charts so it will be very hard to do chart corrections.

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NOAA’s Print on Demand charts are available in PDF form, and can be printed on demand, they meet carriage requirements, but these are what’s being canceled. The PDFs themselves were and are not approved for carriage requirements. You can not have the PDF version of a chart on an Ipad and call it good, nor can you take the PDF to your local Fed Ex and print it yourself even if it the proper scale.

If you are referring to OceanGraphix generating Custom charts with the same number as the canceled chart+ OG, those aren’t produced by NOAA, and aren’t checked by anyone, at this point it’s a compromise for folks who can’t figure out the custom chart generator, and chart corrections are not associated with those chart numbers. The weekly chart update tool is what I think they are working towards, since the old style NTMs were sorted by chart number. It’s also a little hairy when you consider SCAMIN, the chart corrections on a custom chart are too much of a liability for a professional mariner. For a guy on a sailboat, sure, it’s an okay compromise for now and getting better all the time.

The NOAA custom charts (like the ones Ocean Graphix sells) have a memo that says:

This NOAA Custom Chart has been automatically rendered from NOAA Electronic Navigational Chart (NOAA ENC®) data. Mariners using this NOAA Custom Chart are advised that this is a static reproduction of the NOAA ENC®. This NOAA Custom Chart has not been individually quality checked or adjusted for optimal use for navigation. The portrayal may be at a different scale from that of the original NOAA ENC®. Mariners are advised to use caution when using this NOAA Custom Chart for navigation and are encouraged to use the latest NOAA ENC® to access the most up-todate information. Mariners must also comply with all applicable regulatory requirements.

I don’t Have the CFR on hand, but this is in contrast to real POD charts, which are required to be marked with a Certificate of Authenticity from an approved supplier. Like Ocean Graphix’s Nautical Charts Online, or any other chart supplier you may use, they’ll stamp it or print it on the chart.

Edit to add the meme I made about the time I printed an ENC paper chart:

I was looking at Portsmouth (NH) harbor in the NOAA ENC chart viewer and:

It didn’t say whether soundings were feet, meters or fathoms.

It didn’t give names or characteristics for either Whaleback Light or Fort Point Light.

At one point it put the label Bigelow Bight somewhere in the Back Channel behind the Navy shipyard. Bigelow Bight is off Cape Porpoise, 25 miles or so away.

How is one supposed to trust something like this?


As a guy on a sailboat I really don’t like the custom chart tool. It feels like a bone thrown to the Luddites. I suppose it might have use as a fallback option assuming all the other backups fail.

Much easier to simply press “update” in the nav software.

That said, I do think the custom chart tool allows you to save some settings and extents, so that you can easily re-download the same area rather than resort to lovingly hand-applied updates.

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I may be mistaken about this, not sure. The Coast Pilot says POD charts are approved and PDF charts are not. Which are OceanGrafix charts?

Take chart 18434OG for example. NOAA paper chart (and the raster chart) 18434 has been cancelled. At OceanGrafix site they are calling ENC-based chart 18434OG a “print on demand” chart. It’s said to be up to date and corrections are available on line.

Is that incorrect? Are what OceanGrafix is calling print on demand actually PDF charts?

EDIT - Just went to the OG site for another look - it doesn’t actually say chart 18434OG is “Print on Demand”. This is what it says:

The chart you are viewing is a NOAA chart by OceanGrafix. Printed “on-demand,” it contains all of the latest NOAA updates as of the time of printing.

This is a PDF Chart:

I can not take that file to Fed Ex and print it on their plotter, or send it to a blueprint printer myself and use it to satisfy carriage requirements. I also cannot carry it on an Ipad and call it my chart.

This is a POD chart, it will satisfy carriage requirements:

It’s essentially the same file, but printed by an approved distributer. It will be stamped or printed with a certificate of authenticity. This is what the certificate of authenticity looks like on POD charts from Ocean Graphix vs my local chart shop:

This is a NOAA Custom chart, a canceled chart with OG.

It should not only not have a certificate of authenticity, but have the Automated Chart Generation memo I put higher in the thread.

The website does say:

At the discretion of USCG inspectors, this chart may meet carriage requirements.

Which I think is shady, because I think this is relying on the CG inspectors to not know what they are looking at, which happens. The chart covers the same area at the same scale, but the scale of the underlying ENCs have changed and been redivided under NOAA’s new system. The chart they are selling is 1:20,000, because that’s what the old chart was, but now the most of ENCs are 1:10,000 so you are not actually using the best available scale. Things get wonky when you don’t set the scale right because of SCAMIN values programed into the ENCs, made with ECDIS use in mind. If any of this custom chart goes outside the cells that are 1:10,000, they will show the next best scale which is 1:40,000 or 1:80,000 which should trigger an overscale warning at 1:20,000 if it were viewed on an ECDIS. The Custom chart generator really needs to indicate ENC boundaries, it’s the biggest liability I see.

You can no longer look up corrections for 11312, you’d have to go to this part of the country on the weekly update tool and manually look for any corrections in the area depicted on the chart. This gets a little weird when you have to consider SCAMIN, because as you zoom in on an ENC more and more detail becomes visible. The old way, when the cartographers said there is a change to this buoy which is on this chart, the correction was just pushed to the appropriate charts. Now you have to do math to figure out if the buoy should be at the scale you printed.

I’m going to flat out say Ocean Graphix is being shady trying to stay in busines while their bread and butter of paper charts turns to dust before them. They’re relying on people who don’t know better to say “Well, I had 18434, let’s see if I can get a new one” and then buy 18434OG because that’s what shows up. They charge $30 for these like a real chart, when you can generate your own custom chart for the area and scale you want, send it to a blueprint printing service and get color copies at like $8 a piece, and they will be just as good to cover carriage requirements, which is not at all. The USCG really needs to make a policy statement about these charts, but I think is up in the air during this period of transition.

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Yes, looks like you’re right. I edited the OP and the title.

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May have missed it but I didn’t see any requirement that POD charts have this. Only that they be published by NOAA and be of the appropriate scale, detail and be corrected So maybe OceanGrafx is correct that it’s at the inspectors discretion.

Even if the POD charts are of equal quality there’s a chain-of-custody type issue there as OceanGrafx is approved by NOAA and presumably has appropriate equipment and methods etc.

Ugh, it all comes down to semantics, and what the definition of “POD” is.

“POD” typically means the chart counts as a legal “official chart”. OceanGrafix appears to extend this to charts that are not “official charts” by adding the “At the discretion of USCG inspectors, this chart may meet carriage requirements.” disclaimer. The charts without the -OG suffix lack that disclaimer.

To me, that’s like saying the highway patrol has enforcement discretion when deciding whether to cite someone for driving 5 over the speed limit.

PDF is simply a file format, like JPG or PNG. I wouldn’t be particularly surprised if the “using proprietary technology, OceanGrafix continuously accesses and incorporates NOAA’s latest cartographic changes into every chart” blurb on their website simply means they download and print a PDF from NOAA, have someone check the scale with a ruler, and have tested & documented the process in SOPs in order to obtain official certification.

It has been my experience backed with an email from the CEO, that they clearly do not do this. +/- 2mm seems to be in allowance. Drives me insane with some of Ocean Graphix products.

I know I have read the Certificate of Authenticity requirement somewhere, The best I can find at the moment is this Federal Register Policy Statement about SOLAS requirement’s., also this one blog post from NOAA circa 2013. I’m going to dig a little more and report back, or drag people into the conversation.

Edit to Add:

NOAA has changed their NCC site to no longer say “Not approved for carriage requirements” to “Go ask the coast guard if they meet Carriage requirements.” I do recall talking to the chart guy at my chart store about this, and he said there was some drama, in that NOAA doesn’t get to decide what’s Coast Guard Approved, the Coast Guard does. NOAA does say:

All recreational and professional mariners are encouraged to use NOAA’s premier navigational products, the electronic navigational chart for their primary means of navigation.

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Okay, looks like we should be standing by for a NVIC. It sounds like soon there should be a prevision for NCC charts (NOAA custom charts like the OG charts) meeting carriage requirements somehow, some way. I think everything is so vague right now because we are in the in between, that’s why the wording change, ect.

The person I talked to did say to generate the chart before purchasing anything to make sure it’s safe for navigation, and talk to your chief of inspections at the sector.

That being said. my professional opinion: Please, future reader, don’t make your 2nd mates print ENCs, just buy Roespoint, its’ gotta be cheaper. Get a laptop off Ebay and plug it into the GPS. There is no way these paper charts are safer than an ENCs.


Yes, the terms used apparently don’t yet have a legal definition, I changed the title (again).

The terms NOAA “Custom Chart” and “pdf charts” are used interchangeably and according to the NOAA Coast PIlot do not meet carriage requirements.

Print on demand charts from an approved vendor do meet requirements but the assumption apparently is that means only if the source is paper-based NOAA charts.

It’s not clear if ENC-based print-on-demand charts meet requirements of 33 CFR 164.33(a).

A ENC is basically a collection of geospatial data records in a database. That collection can be defined by any given extent and scale.

A specific extent and scale that matches a NOAA chart can be given the same chart number that matches the NOAA paper chart, canceled or not.

Don’t know about the corrections but if OceanGrafix can print up-to-date ENC-based paper versions of cancelled charts then the information can also be made available in usable format.

Ocean Charting Services is developing a way to produce and keep your ENC based printed chart updated on a weekly basis. Eventually NOAA will be updating ENC cells daily.


The ENC-based paper charts that are are NOAA Custom Chart (NCC)

This is a David Burch blog post from 2022.

When these traditional charts are gone, there are two NOAA Print on Demand outlets that have announced on their websites that they are set up to print the new ENC versions of these same charts. In other words, they are considering making their own NCC that are the exact aspects, scales and sizes so you could just ask for the chart number.

But it is not clear if that is the best solution. The NCC app gives the chart designer a lot of freedom on what is included and what exact area is covered and at what scale.

If it’s a NCC than it’s a “pdf chart” by NOAA’s own terms.

That’s certainly true in general. I’ve made that argument numerous time on here. That’s why the USCG has proposed changes to the regulations:

Electronic Chart and Navigational Equipment Carriage Requirements

the Coast Guard’s broad strategy to revise its CFR chart and navigational equipment carriage requirements to implement statutory electronic-chart-use provisions for commercial U.S.-flagged vessels and certain foreign-flagged vessels operating in the waters of the United States.

That said, even with two ECDIS in the wheelhouse (in addition to other screens), in some situations it’s still sometimes helpful to have a paper chart spread out on the chart table for an overview / planning.