Port Of Los Angeles Pilot Chart Sketch

Hello all,

I am looking for any helpful tips or suggestions for the chart sketch of Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach for the Pilotage test. I have a blank chart as well as chartlets from Pilot Test Charts.

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I had alwats heard that port wants your drawing up to date of the day you draw. That chart gets cancled 7/31, did they say what they are having you do if you draw after that?

Trace it out over a chart. Take your time and be detailed.

How are you supposed to study a constantly updating chart?

The real question is how do you study a chart that no longer exists?


By paying attention to Notice to Mariners. Not all ports are like that, but Ive heard about it for LA/LB.

But the real problem is notice to mariners aren’t published for charts that don’t exists.

Typical California. Stupid way of doing things.

What is?

Making you draw a chart up to the date you draw it? Every other REC is a chart within 1 year.

Interesting. I thought they had to be up to date everywhere. I’m still curious what chart they expect you to draw when paper charts don’t exist for most US ports anymore.

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It takes several months to study for a highly accurate chart plot. If a buoy is moved 4mm the day before you draw, it’s going to be hard to replace all the muscle memory.

Unpopular opinion: the chart plot is a useless piece of testing. Whether the buoy or wreck or spoil area line is 1mm out of place has no bearing on actual piloting.


You think that’s an unpopular opinion? I feel like most people would actually agree but just feel it’s a right of passage/“we’ve always done it this way” type of mentality.

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If you follow NTMs, actual published changes are rare and easy to account for.

Whats sneaky is when someone reports an error via ASSIST and it gets changed on the chart without a NTM.

When you realize the charts are all made up approximations and do not reflect reality, thats when you start to realize this is a really useless exercise. But I can bitch about chart inaccuracies all day.

The short answer is that you should expect to be able to use the last version of a cancelled chart for your pilotage examination – for now.

We have talked with several USCG Regional Exam Centers (REC) as well as the American Pilots Association about this conundrum. It is an issue that is shared across the country as NOAA aims for their goal of sunsetting all Raster Nautical Charts by January 2025.

The eventual plan is to transition over to the Custom Chart Tool (CCT) provided by NOAA, but all of the RECs that we talked to have found the current version of the CCT to be lacking.

Here is an excerpt from our conversation of the Houston REC about their general strategy:

“From now through 2024 (and probably 2025), this unit plans to use the latest version (even if cancelled) of the legacy raster chart for Pilot Chart Testing. This decision is based on the fact that the NOAA chart transition from raster to ENC is a work in progress and that the data is inconsistent and unusable for our purposes in many areas. Having said that, we will want to switch to NOAA Custom Charts as soon as practical.”

Each REC has a slightly different take on their testing process, so we HIGHLY RECOMMEND YOU TALK TO YOUR LOCAL REC.

For all those interested, we can supply the most up-to-date version of all of the charts used in pilotage testing as well as blank test charts and other tools that can help you pass the pilotage exam. Check us out:



I’m in the same process, but in a different area. I email the REC for instructions on the test. In that “package” they tell what colors they want and some useful information before testing. Cable areas, ranges with their heights, buoys with their characteristics , sounding not more than an inch apart, lat/long, draw the compass. Just draw as much as possible you’ll start see a pattern. Using the mm of the triangles is super useful as you reference from land features.