New (PAPER) NOAA ENC Charts are Here

There were a couple of old threads on the sunsetting of raster-based NOAA charts.

NOAA has announced their replacement technology for producing paper charts, for those that use them. So it looks like U.S. paper charts are here to stay for awhile.

Some takeaways:

  • Mariners can print charts at home, or they can still order the charts from their regular suppliers.
  • The charts will not use the old chart numbers (though I suspect suppliers will arrange things so that their products will be printed using the old numbered system).
  • NOAA has announced that they will be changing the format of NOM corrections so that these charts can be corrected.

(Note: Where I work we have our charts printed at a company called TrakMaps, because they print on mylar, a much better material than the horrible copy paper used for POD charts).


If you’re a company that still has that deep love for paper ENCs, it could be a very usefull tool if youd look into investing in a large format printer. You dont have to use the old chart borders, make charts that make sense to your mariners. For the price of 70 charts from a dealer you can just buy the printer. When i did the math it came out to less than $5 per chart when you factor in paper and ink. Ive Never factored in the price of the mylar. If youve got boats with different drafts you can use custom 4 shade contours. It would be a little silly to do this with old POD but for a custom product this would be pretty slick. Not as slick as an ECDIS, but to each their own :sweat_smile:.

There is nothing special about a certified vendor. Ive stood at the desk at Bluewater Charts and Books in Lauderdale and watched them download the free PDF and press print. You can generate the same large format PDF in about 5 minutes.

If youre just some guy with a boat, just send the PDF off to a blueprint print shop. Depending on how many out order its $10-$20 a color chart and you get the specific area you want

V2.0 does seem a little nicer than v1.2. Its cool that they’re doing this. It would be really nice if you could hide layers all together and just generate a blank chart for pilotage.

If people want to print them own, and have the time to do it, more power to them.

But it reminds me of wire rope. We use a lot of wire rope where I work, and it would be cheaper to splice our own, except that there is the cost of having someone do the splicing, whose other skills might be better used elsewhere. If all they spliced or swaged all day long it would be worth it, but there is not enough work to justify a full time rigger. So really it’s cheaper and more realistic to farm it out.

We run our own firefighting simulator, and we farm out the air cylinder refills also. We can fill 30 cylinders at a whack, but we only do it sporadically. It’s an art to fill them. Meaning a trained person. So in the end it’s more practical to farm it out, than to buy and maintain a compressor.

Our navigators elect to use printed charts for specific nav techniques in certain areas of the BC Inside Passage, and elsewhere. Last year they had a vote whether to can paper charts entirely or keep them. They voted to keep them, even as they voted to upgrade the ECS aboard.

It’s not a one or the other thing for them. They have to practice unusual caution in some very tricky places, because of their pilotage waivers, and in these tricky places parallel indexing in reference to a paper chart gives them an edge, they say.

Since they are the pros they get listened to. It will be interesting to see how similar votes go with time.

I get it, I really do. Im talking to a buddy with Alaska Marine Highway fighting the same fight, showing him how to use user maps. The ECS/Ecdis supports the same notation you’d put on the paper chart, you just need someone in the fleet who knows how to make it work. Its a little cumbersome so folks who have been running around up there forever on paper might not know how to work it. Its also time consuming, but id rather do it once than every time i scrub the chart. If I could figure out how to get Navi-planner 4000 on my computer I would seriously consider turning this into a side hustle.

Interesting. The new feature that looks most useful is this; which would let you define your own portfolios and easily download updated versions:

Added Personal Chart Catalog functionality, which allows users to save their custom chart parameters to an exported Chart Catalog file. Users can then recreate a chart or multiple charts repeatedly as NOAA releases ENC updates by uploading the file in a new session of the NOAA Custom Chart in their web browser.

It looks like they are also trying to make this more differentiated from ENC charts, and even more so going forward:

More of these ECDIS symbols will be replaced with the symbols and colors used on traditional NOAA paper charts.

Are you saying that the use of parallel indexing is only possible when working with traditional paper nautical charts?

No. I am saying that our navigators have a particular practice of navigation which they have honed over many years, in a neck of the woods that is especially difficult to navigate, and one with big consequences in case of error (BC Inside Passage and Alaska Peninsula Inside Passage).

In that particular practice they have decided that parallel indexing RE: paper charts is something they prefer to keep doing in certain difficult passes, even as they are using the plotter. They have a chart out for certain areas at certain times, because, they say, that is the best balance of keeping the big picture in mind, in conjunction with the plotter.

It may be helpful to keep in mind that often there is only one watch officer doing the navigating, in waters where on another vessel two people might be doing the same duties.

You can parallel index on ECDIS

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