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Seamanship Article Index


The BookletChartTM

Download what you need online and print it on your home system.
The Office of Coast Survey BookletChart lets recreational boaters print charts at home for no cost other than for the paper and ink. It has been developed to help boaters achieve a higher level of safety through improved navigation on the water and includes abbreviated notes from the US Coast Pilot. It is a form of nautical chart that has been reduced in scale, divided into multiple pages for convenience, and retains all the information of the full scale chart. It also contains emergency procedures for the area in question on the reverse, including VHF channel designations, procedures for making a distress call, and mobile phone numbers for local emergency services. It does NOT satisfy the requirements for commercial vessels. Each BookletChart is updated WEEKLY for all Notices to Mariners! 

The charts are downloadable as Adobe Acrobat files and they are rather large so you'll need broadband. Printing them can be time consuming without a high speed duplex printer and they will use up a fair bit of ink at the "normal" resolution of about 600 dpi. NOAA has had reports of the individual files taking from 4 minutes to 4 hours to print. You can staple multiple pages together to form a booklet or keep the pages loose in a file. We tried printing and stapling them into a booklet and the pages did not line up perfectly, but it wasn’t bad.  While full scale charts are still recommended, these are great for boaters who might otherwise do without and certainly great to supplement older printed charts with newer information.

The BookletCharts are on the NOAA site at:

If that’s not enough here’s more free stuff from NOAA

The complete US Coast Pilots available free as zipped downloadable files

The complete US Coast Pilots are available free as zipped downloadable files.  If you are not familiar with Coast Pilots, they are essentially text versions of nautical charts.  So rather than drawing a picture of the coast, they tell you what you will find there in words…and some pictures. 

Download the version for your region and keep on your laptop or a CD for reference.
All nine Coast Pilots are now available online for you to download at will, including important corrections to the printed editions. They do take some time to download and I wouldn't attempt it without broadband, but what a resource free of charge! You can always copy the file to a CD and keep it onboard for use with your free ENC charts. The Electronic Coast PilotTM(ECP), version 2.0, consists of Coast Pilot files formatted using Adobe's PDF that may be viewed online with an Adobe Acrobat Reader. 

They have not been updated by subsequent corrections published in the NIMA Weekly Notice to Mariners, the Coast Guard district's Local Notice to Mariners, or NOAA's website. These files do NOT meet 33 CFR 164 carriage requirements unless these corrections have been incorporated. Persons copying or reproducing the provisional ECPs do so at their own risk and liability.  Get them here:

Okay, one more!

NOAA has been busy this summer.  And contrary to some reports, they are not going out of the charting business.  Far from it.  NOAA may be leaving behind the large format paper chart business eventually, but that does not mean they are going to leave us in the dark. For example, PocketChartsTM are a new inexpensive (ie, not free) introductory product that has a miniature image of a NOAA chart on one side and safety information on the other side. Although “not intended for navigation” these charts are a great resource for kayakers, canoeists, and fishermen to keep in their back pockets for reference.  We applaud NOAA for their innovation in trying to keep us all safer while we venture out on the waters.

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