Pilotage Exam Chart Sketch

I am looking to take get my First Class Pilotage. Looking for clarification and ANY TIPS to prepare for the chart sketch. When I spoke to the NMC they basically said that the REC I test at decides what needs to be drawn on the exam for passing.-

Does anyone know if there is set parameters as to what needs to be included on the chart? I’ve heard mixed things. From depths every 2” to not needing depths under the 18’ contours, etc.

Any advice is appreciated.

You have to reach out to the REC that will grade your test. You can draw them wherever and they will send them to the REC covering the area drawn for grading. I have drawn charts graded by REC Anchorage, Boston and NY and they each had different requirements. Anchorage is every 2", NY is least depth along tracks outside of federal channels then depths and tabulations for federal channels. Boston is every 2" along your track line.

Break things down into sections and work on those- don’t try and do everything at once. I’ve done charts chunk by chunk geographically where I draw everything in the specific part of the chart I’m working on, and done them studying each type of graded object (nav aids, contours, channels, lanes etc) across the whole chart. I prefer the latter, though the first one is good if the chart has an excessive amount of nav aids. I always start by drawing in lat/lon lines and points of land.

I also will add in PI’s, notes about wheel over points etc. This really isn’t necessary but it helps me for the route description.


If you are interested in NY. Go down to the Staten Island Ferry or even better find out where they hang out after work. They have guys there that have mastered the pilotage exam and can teach you how to do it.

If my memory is correct they need six charts to be a pilot there.

Requirements for the chart drawing are on a REC by REC basis. We have been in contact with most RECs around the country and they all do the pilotage testing process a little different. You can find blank test charts at pilottestcharts.com . If your chart is not offered on the site we can make it for you at no extra charge. There a variety of different chart types ( Vellum Paper Test Chart, Overlay grading chart, Chartlet Pack, etc.) to choose from for each. Good Luck.