NOAA to Stop Printing Paper Charts

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has announced that it will no longer print traditional paper nautical charts come mid-April of this year.
Author:
Updated:
Original:

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has announced that it will no longer print traditional paper nautical charts come mid-April of this year.

Although the discontinuation of traditional paper charts is not unexpected given that many mariners rely on GPS, print-on-demand (POD) charts, plot charters and other navigation electronics, the decision marks the end of a 151-year-long tradition of government-printed charts. In 1807, Thomas Jefferson requested a survey of the U.S. coastline, and the first map by the Office of Coast Survey dates back to 1862.

The decision was made by the Federal Aviation Administration, which took over federal chart making in 1999, in order to cut federal costs. Sailors need not worry, however, as NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey will continue to survey and chart waters, as well as distribute nautical charts in PDF and other digital formats.

“With the end of traditional paper charts, our primary concern continues to be making sure that boaters, fishing vessels and commercial mariners have access to the most accurate, up-to-date nautical chart in a format that works well for them,” said Capt. Shep Smith, chief of Coast Survey’s Marine Chart Division. “Fortunately, advancements in computing and mobile technologies give us many more options than was possible years ago.”

NOAA’s electronic charting systems, for instance, are updated weekly and can be downloaded for free from the Coast Survey website. NOAA is also providing free downloads of approximately a thousand high-resolution chart PDFs over the course of a three-month trial period that began on Oct. 22. After the trial, NOAA will evaluate user feedback to decide whether to continue the service.

According to Smith, NOAA will explore more technologically advanced options. “Customers frequently ask us for special printed features, such as waterproof charts, special papers, or chart books containing additional information,” he said. “We are investigating new opportunities for companies to fill these market niches, using the most up-to-date information directly from NOAA.”

Private printers, who will rely on NOAA data, are likely to provide any gaps in charts resulting from the discontinuation of NOAA’s paper charts.

Read Peter Nielsen's From the Editor: Paper Yields to Pixelshere

Photo courtesy of NOAA

Related

Shelly-forward-last-day

Charter Advice for First-Timers

Never chartered? No worries. A vacation under sail can be the most memorable time of your life. That said, it also pays to be prepared by doing some reading, building your skills and listening to what the experts say. First and foremost, not all charter grounds are created ...read more

HugoBoss

Video: Vendeé Update

Last week Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) led the fleet across the equator. As one of the class' top sailors who's been on the Vendeé Podium twice, it seemed possible that Thomson was going to grab an early lead and hold on to it all the way around the world. But early on Saturday, he ...read more

AdobeStock_229409051

Chartering Again for the First Time

It’s been a rocky road of late for the charter industry, especially here in the Western Hemisphere. First came hurricanes Irma and Maria in the Caribbean followed by Dorian in the Bahamas. There has also, of course, been the coronavirus, which burst into global prominence ...read more

01 LEAD cedaryachtclub_onedesign18_hike

An Interview with Ayme Sinclair

In recent months, US Sailing, like many organizations, has been taking a closer look at diversity to ensure it’s doing the best job it can of introducing people from all backgrounds and ethnicities to the sport. As part of this effort, this past summer it organized an online ...read more

125768940_10222759720523627_5373654001582879638_n

US Sailing Presents Adaptive Sailing Panel

On Tuesday, November 24, US Sailing’s Leadership Forum will present the latest panel discussion in their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion series. This event will focus on adaptive sailing and provide practical recommendations for organizations looking to expand their adaptive ...read more

02-IMG_5971

A Carbon Neutral Circumnav with Jimmy Cornell

Historic anniversaries have always held a special fascination for me, especially if they mark a significant nautical achievement. In 1992, on the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ would-be voyage to India, I organized a transatlantic rally that followed the historic route of the ...read more

DJI_0068

SAIL Podcast: Jimmy Cornell’s Carbon-free Circumnav

In this episode of Point of SAIL, Principal Editor Adam Cort talks with bestselling author and pioneering bluewater sailor Jimmy Cornell, who set out November 19 on yet another circumnavigation aboard a newly designed, carbon-neutral Outremer 4Zero catamaran. The voyage, which ...read more

emirates-600x

Emirates Team New Zealand Splashes the last of the AC75s

Emirates Team New Zealand unveiled its second-generation AC75 yesterday, joining the other three America's Cup teams with boats in the water. In just over 100 days, this boat will attempt to defend the Cup for the Kiwis, but there's plenty of racing between now and then, with ...read more