Some interesting news from the map world. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced today that effective April 13, 2014 they will no longer print paper nautical charts.
For those readers who are panicking and already drafting a letter to congress, there is no need to worry as you will still be able to get paper charts via print-on-demand distributors.
According to the NOAA, the decision to stop production of paper maps was due to several factors including the decline for paper charts, the increase in both digital and electronic charts and finally, federal budget realities.
The big change here is that the NOAA is getting out of storing a huge stock of charts that often take years to sell through. By fully switching over to print-on-demand charts, the NOAA is able to push out updates to distributers significantly faster (with monthly updates) and thus you are ensured that you have the most up-to-date version when purchased.
If you use digital charts you will still be able to get them from the NOAA in a variety of formats including electronic navigational charts (NOAA ENC), raster navigational charts (NOAA RNC) as well as full-scale PDF charts as part of a brand-new pilot project.
The new NOAA PDF pilot project looks very interesting. For the next three months they are offering 1000 of their most popular charts available in PDF format. They want to guage popularity and collect user comments before rolling out the entire catalogue. The biggest appeal of PDF charts is that they are easily viewable on many different platforms including phones, tablets and computers as well as easily printed out at home (though they are technically for reference only, not for navigation).
Oh wow, you need to check these out. Below the Boat is a brand new company that produces 3D wooden nautical charts laser-cut from sheets of Baltic birch and glued together in a wood frame.
They offer a wide selection of charts from across North America including San Juan Islands, Puget Sound, San Francisco Bay, Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, and Long Island Sound.
Prices range from $130-300 depending on how large and complex the map is.
More info: belowtheboat.com
Also check out: Brian Klassen Models
I recently stumbled upon what looks like a good navigation resource that just came out and wanted to pass along.
Amazon is selling a brand new book called Understanding a Nautical Chart: A Practical Guide to Safe Navigation by Paul Boissier.
Here is the book description on the site:
[blockquote]Whether they are paper or electronic, charts are the most fundamental navigational tool. Making the best use of them requires a great understanding of symbols and abbreviations, as well as an awareness of the limits of accuracy in positions and soundings. Understanding a Nautical Chart not only helps you to read a chart, it allows you to understand that information and use it to navigate safely. Learning the abbreviations and symbols are critical to anybody using a chart and before you can use one, you must know them or at have easy access to the definitions, all of which are included in a full copy of the key to UKHO charts (Chart 5011).[/blockquote]
The book is written a former Royal Navy Deputy Commander in Chief, Paul Boissier and is 200 pages long.
It also covers the following topics:
Chart Number, Title, Marginal Notes, Positions, Distances, Directions, Compass
Natural Features, Cultural Features, Landmarks, Ports, Topographic Terms
Tides, Currents, Depths, Nature of the Seabed, Rocks, Wrecks, Obstructions, Offshore Installations, Tracks, Routes Areas, Limits, Hydrographic Terms
Aids and Services
Lights, Buoys, Beacons, Fog Signals, Radar, Radio, Electronic Position-Fixing Systems, Services, Small Craft Facilities
Index of Abbreviations, International Abbreviations, List of Descriptors, IALA Maritime Buoyage System
Understanding a Nautical Chart: A Practical Guide to Safe Navigation should be avilable at your local bookstore, sailing shop or online. Its published by Wiley and sells for around $25.
While some people out there are wishing a happy solstice or patting everybody on the back with the start of summer we must never forget what June 21st is really about. I want to wish you a very pleasant World Hydrography Day as proclaimed by the NOAA via their website.
Ah, World Hydrography Day. That time of year when we are to remember and celebrate the great ocean surveyors of past and present. Without them we wouldn’t have those fantastic charts that both fuel dreams of future paddling trips and confuse new paddlers with all their symbols and squiggly lines.
So after work when somebody raises a glass at your local patio to toast the start of summer, interrupt and tell them to shut up and remember the true reason for the season on this awesome day.