NOAA Kicks Off Transition Exclusively to Electronic Navigation Charts – gCaptain

You will use those skills/knowledge in transit because you know the chart by heart while navigating that particular area/channel.

Plotting radar ranges on paper charts is a powerful and under-appreciated position fixing system that is not dependent upon anyone else’s radio signals, satellites, or software.

Younger guys,”push button navigators,” cannot understand why I often do this.

ECDIS is a robust system that runs without virus protection, but updates and software inputs are tightly controlled an adequately budgeted.

Chart plotters on smaller vessels have a lot less features than ECDIS, plus they run on laptops and cheap PCs. For some strange reason companies seem to be very cheap about maintaining and upgrading these PCs and chart plotter software. Lost of data or crash of the system seems to happen a couple of times a year.


In certain places, I do a lot of navigating by eye/radar.

In a busy river with constant turns, a preprogrammed track line with courses and distances are helpful, but minimally so. With reversing current, up bound, down bound, and traffic avoidance you’ll be making it up as you go, and you often won’t be on the pre-programmed track.

In a place with a lot of bouys, some of which are out of position, I like to have someone check off the bouys on the paper chart as we pass them, and write on notations for the bouys that are out of position. There is no time to try to do this on a plotter while your using it.

If you order a print on demand new NOAA vector chart, will you get the option of metric soundings and bridge clearances? And can you decide what depth contours and colours for various shallow water (like on an ECDIS)?

I’d guess it be similar to whatever options with vector charts that vendors like OceanGrafix offer now.

EDIT: I believe that this is how NOAA plans to do ENC based paper charts:

Future Paper Charts – NOAA will still promote the use of paper chart products based on ENC data, either through the NOAA Custom Chart web app, or through third-party commercial providers selling ENC-based chart products. The NOAA Custom Chart (NCC) is available online as a prototype that is in the early phases of development. Users may define the scale and paper size of custom-made nautical charts, with a centered position of their choosing. The NCC then creates a geospatially referenced Portable Document Format, with chart notes placed on a separate PDF page. Users may then download, view, and print the PDF. To try out the NCC prototype, go to NOAA Custom Chart.

Here is the site:

We get what “paper” charts we use from Trak Maps. Hope the service doesn’t go away. They print the charts on Tyvek, which is much better than the crap paper print-on-demand charts are usually printed on. It accepts pencil/pen marks just fine, and has the added virtue of being coffee resistant. :slightly_smiling_face:

Just downloaded a chart of Puget Sound. Here’s a corner of it:

We had a similar problem this year with tidal current tables. NOAA stopped printing them. Said you could just download them wherever. Bullshit. Our routes change all the time. Can’t print them all out before a voyage. And for whatever reason, satellite connectivity can go to hell, preventing us from downloading the tidal current tables when we need them. Rosepoint doesn’t help.

There is one private publisher, Paracay, that publishes what the cover of the book says are the tidal currents for North America. Bullshit. It’s only for America, not Canada.

Finally, after digging, found the Ports and Passes book put out by Waggoner. Meant for yachtsmen. It does carry data for both Canada and America. Sheesh. Shouldn’t be so hard to promote safe navigation.

Canada, at least, still makes their data available for download in a format you might find familiar. Since it’s an annual publication, just make it an annual tradition.

It’s unfortunate NOAA doesn’t at least make the PDF version available. If you are in a particular area as your mention of Ports and Passes suggests you can download annual predictions from them for each station. And, it occurs to me that a bit of simple scripting could result in a very similar PDF version for the US side.