Erasable Colored Pens/Pencils For Chartwork

I was just invited to observe navigation and shiphandling classes at the US Coast Guard Academy. They had a digital camera set up over the instructor’s chart table and monitors positioned around the room so the cadets could see his examples. What I found interesting is that he used a set of colored sharpie ultra fine point markers for doing advanced Maneuvering Board work and it really helped me visualize the examples. I also really liked the crispness of the pen lines vs a traditional pencil.

Obviously using a permanent sharpie outside the classroom is a bad idea but what about using these new Pilot FriXion erasable pens? I’ve used my FriXion 4-color pen for a few years now and it works great plus my Pilot FriXion BIZ2 is one of the best looking/writing pens I own… but I never tried it on charts.

I’ve written before about my love hate relationship with pencils and how #2 grade pencils are the wrong choice for chart work but colored pencils might be an option too. Colored pencils are harder to erase than their graphite cousins, but some colored pencils are specifically made to be erasable. f you plan to use erasers to lighten specific areas (like the danger areas on a chart) or often want to remove stray lines, it might be worth looking for colored pencils that erase well.

So… has anyone here used colored pens or pencils for chartwork?

Also a quick note on erasers… when using the friction pen you must use their eraser because the ink doesn’t actually leave the paper. What happens is that heat turns the ink invisible (you can also stick your notebook in the microwave and erase all the pages at once).

But with a pencil you never want to use the built in eraser because 99% of them are garbage. You want a good eraser. I like the Pentel Ain Regular eraser. Its small, rectangular shape is easy to hold and control, and its black color means that the eraser never looks dirty! Appearance aside, this eraser erases incredibly well with very little mess. The residue from the eraser sticks together in thin strips for easy cleanup. If you’re looking for an all-purpose, no fuss, no frills eraser, this is it!

For fine work nothing beats the Tombow Mono Zero Precision Eraser. Also known as an “erasil,” this plastic eraser is in the shape of a pen, so you have complete control over what you erase. Its extremely small size and its ability to erase small mistakes and details well. It allows you to precisely pinpoint even the tiniest mistake on a chart and remove it completely.

And for erasing colored pencils the best bet is a very light touch (you can cut through your charts quickly with these) with a sand eraser designed to remove color pigment.

This reads like a paid advertisement for these products.


Chartwork? I just push a USB stick in and push load update. Which decade is this?

Ok, so the question is really about color use.

Do you use different color lines and notations to represent differwnt things on your chart? If so what is the mechanism you use?

Don’t do it often but if a 500 meter safety zone on a platform/rig is not marked on the chart, I use yellow circle area to indicate the zone. On the Tecdis you can choose between blue, green, yellow, pink and black to mark areas. Red is reserved to indicate dangerous area.

If I have to manually mark a weather buoy that is close to the work area, I would use Red to indicate that we have to pay close attention.

It’s a easy system, and the advantage is that you can add a lot of info, you just have to hover the cursor over the area and it will pop up.

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Cool but wtf is a TECDIS!?

I support adding colors to things but I believe that an inner circle of hell is reaerved for bureaucrats that tack additional letters onto acronyms.


How’s that any different than an ecdis? Is it somehow different or os the additional letter just a marketing ploy?

Just a brand of ECDIS. But in Norway you have to take a type approved course on the ECDIS the vessel is using. So when people are talking about TECDIS, people in the business knows whats talked about.

Every erasure erodes the chart slightly. The reason why 2B black pencils were always used for chartwork was to enable erasure without significant erosion of the chart.
Use of coloured pens will overhelm the original info in the chart, irrespective of whether it is erasable or not.

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I disagree. I think 2B is the most used because it’s the only grade available at staples. Plus 2B is not the most erasable grade of pencil:

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Well most of the crap they teach you to add in the master/cm coyage planning class will overwhelm the original info on the chart.

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Your remarks are frivolous, irrelevant and unnecessarily vehement. Your unprofessional attitude has attracted people of similar countenance who cannot discuss anything on the basis of sheer logic and facts. You need to withdraw and join a monastery, so that someone else with a modicum of knowledge and wisdom could run a better professional forum.
If you want to discuss the crap of Passage Planning you could start a fresh thread.

So mark you down as not for color then right?


Damn this took a turn.



You’re kidding right? What part of my post was vehement and unprofessional? Was disagreement and honest opinion banned from this forum while I wasn’t looking?


Speaking as someone of no standing whatsoever, I was surprised by your use of “crap” to characterize the result of recommendations/instructions from voyage planning classes. It suggests anger, hence vehemence; and it smears with a broad brush, hence less than professional. It’s not the same as making a case that various things taught in such classes are ill-advised.

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