Archive for the ‘Nautical charts’ Category
For more than ten years, since NOAA introduced its electronic navigational charts, you have needed to purchase a specialized chart display system to view the NOAA ENC® as a seamless chart database. Starting today, you don’t need a system to view the ENC depictions; you can use Coast Survey’s new web-based viewer called NOAA ENC® Online. (IMMEDIATE CAVEAT: You still need a specialized display system to use the multi-layered functional data that make ENCs so valuable. NOAA ENC downloads are still free to the public.)
Since NOAA ENC Online is web-based, there is nothing to download. Users can click on the web map and zoom to selected features or locations, to see the information contained in over a thousand ENCs of NOAA-charted waters. Each zoom moves you through an ENC depiction that takes into account the ENC scale band and other attributes that are encoded in the ENC, such as scale minimum and feature masking. This allows the user to seamlessly zoom from the high level of detail of the large scale Band 5 ENCs, to small-scale overviews available on Band 1. Viewers can measure areas and distance, and use other functions.
Screengrab from NOAA ENC Online
In addition to providing public access to chart data, ENC Online will also help NOAA cartographers improve our current suite of ENCs. For instance, this web service allows cartographers to more easily pinpoint areas that may need additional hydrographic surveys for chart updates and corrections.
ENCs are increasingly popular with commercial mariners, who value the charts’ flexibility and multi-layered information. Starting today, we hope other chart users will plumb the depths of ENC Online and discover its many uses as a practical resource.
NOAA ENC Online is not certified for navigation. It does NOT fulfill chart carriage requirements for regulated commercial vessels under Titles 33 and 46 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
The NOAA ENC Online viewer is powered by Esri Maritime Chart Server technology. The technology provides features that can be leveraged in various GIS and OGC WMS compliant applications.
In case you missed it, yesterday we announced an end to government printing of lithographic nautical charts, effective April 13. Lithographs are part of Coast Survey’s proud heritage, since we started using that printing process for mass-producing charts for the Civil War, and it will be hard to see the era end. (See NOAA announces end of traditional paper chart.) While lithographic printing is scheduled to stop, however, the public will continue to be able to purchase NOAA paper charts as up-to-date print-on-demand products.
As one product ends, another begins. We also announced yesterday that our latest addition to the nautical charting portfolio is the new Portable Document Format (PDF) nautical chart, which provides up-to-date navigation information in this universally available file type. Initially, the PDF nautical charts will be available for a three-month trial, from October 22, 2013, to January 22, 2014.
For the trial period, Coast Survey is providing about a thousand high-resolution printable nautical charts—almost the entire NOAA suite of charts—as PDF files. The PDF nautical charts, which are almost exact images of the traditional charts currently printed by lithography, are free.
We are trying this as a trial so we will have an opportunity to hear from the public and evaluate usage. Does the boating community find the charts useful? Is there a better way to provide these free products? Should we continue the new service?
Just as with Print-on-Demand (POD) and NOAA raster navigational charts (NOAA RNC®), PDF nautical charts are updated weekly and include all of the latest critical chart corrections. These files can be printed or viewed depending on the customer’s choice.
(NOTE: For mariners using paper charts to meet chart carriage requirements under federal regulations, only printed charts provided by NOAA-certified POD providers will meet U.S. requirements when the traditional lithographic nautical charts are no longer available. POD charts meet stringent print standards and can be recognized by an official certification of authenticity printed on the chart.)
Key features of the PDF nautical chart
- Updated Weekly. PDF charts are up-to-date with critical corrections from Notice to Mariners.
- Available Immediately. New PDF chart editions are available two to eight weeks sooner than traditional NOAA paper charts have been.
- Enhanced Readability. These are printed in brighter colors, so the charts are easier to read. Additionally, the files are high resolution, at 400 dpi.
- Printable. Most charts can be printed from any plotter capable of plotting 36” width to achieve 1:1 scale.
- Easy to view. PDF files can be viewed with free PDF readers such as Adobe Reader. If you do not already have this viewer installed on your computer, you may obtain it at no cost from the Adobe Reader webpage. Other free PDF readers can be found by searching the Internet.
It’s only been 24 hours since we released the PDF nautical charts, but so far the reaction is good. “Like very much. Resolution is terrific, even when zoomed to 400%,” says one commenter. “Another good backup, and good for route ‘browsing’ …I would strongly recommend that these be made a permanent chart option. Thanks so much.”
Another commenter tells us, “I want to give a big thumbs UP for the new PDF format for nautical charts (and free download). We downloaded the Puget Sound region this morning and immediately used it to locate a mysterious point that had been entered in a dive fishery log book. Excellent product! I hope they remain available for free download.”
The flexibility seems to be popular with chart users. “I’m commenting on the trial project to make Great Lakes Nautical Charts available as PDF files. It is a great service and should become a permanent part of NOAA’s services. As a kayaker who paddles on the Great Lakes, I appreciate this service very much. For my needs, a full sized chart is usually far more paper than is needed. With the PDF service, I can crop targeted areas and print for use. I will be telling my paddling friends about this trial service.”
Even non-boaters like them. “The pdf chart downloads are for my purposes, just great. I don’t navigate (typically). But I do need to reference shipping lanes, underwater obstructions, berth numbers, port configurations, bridge clearances, basic hydrographic info, etc. in my work. Being able to view them on my computer is extremely helpful.”
There have been some early shortfalls, we recognize. As one commenter pointed out, “I tried to download your new pdf chart for my home port. With no index or linked index, it is pretty unusable for the masses.” True, when we opened the site yesterday, we only had a list of the chart numbers. Until we integrate a new chart viewing service into the PDF nautical chart service, we suggest that people find their chart number by using our Online Chart Viewer.
What do you think about the PDF nautical charts? We’d like to hear from you.
We reduced the size of the file to save PDF nautical chart 12283 as a jpg. Click and zoom to get a better idea of the resolution. (The online PDFs are even better!)
Public is invited to try beta version of MyNOAACharts
As recreational boaters gear up for a summer of fun on coastal waters and the Great Lakes, NOAA is testing MyNOAACharts, a new mobile application that allows users to download NOAA nautical charts and editions of the U.S. Coast Pilot. The app, which is only designed for Android tablets for the testing period, was just released.
MyNOAAChart, which can be used on land and on the water, lets users find their positions on a NOAA nautical chart. They can zoom in any specific location with a touch of the finger, or zoom out for the big picture to plan their day of sailing. The Coast Pilot has geo-tagged some of the major references and provides links to appropriate federal regulations.
MyNOAACharts, a mobile app beta test for Android tablets, can easily integrate the user’s location, the nautical chart, and all the navigational information from the U.S. Coast Pilot.
Easy and workable access to nautical charts is important for boating safety, says Rear Admiral Gerd Glang, director of NOAA Office of Coast Survey. He recalls a funny, but poignant, reference to charts.
“A popular t-shirt has a ‘definition’ of a nautical chart splayed across the front: ‘chärt, n: a nautical map that shows you what you just hit,’” Glang explains. “As creative as that is, a boating accident can kill. Keeping a nautical chart on hand – before you hit something – can save lives.”
The beta test for MyNOAACharts will end on Labor Day, September 2, 2013. Coast Survey will then evaluate usage and user feedback, which will be pivotal in any decision to move forward.
“Expanding the app across a multitude of platforms, ensuring easy accessibility to over a thousand charts and nearly 5,000 pages of U.S. Coast Pilot, will take considerable resources,” Glang notes. “We truly want users to let us know if the app meets their needs.”
Boaters who don’t have an Android tablet shouldn’t despair. The Office of Coast Survey provides free BookletCharts, which are 8 ½” x 11” PDF versions of NOAA nautical charts that can be downloaded and printed at home. The U.S. Coast Pilot is also available in a free PDF version.
Important notice for commercial mariners: The mobile app MyNOAACharts and the BookletCharts do not fulfill chart carriage requirements for regulated commercial vessels under Titles 33 and 46 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
NOAA Office of Coast Survey has released a new nautical chart for the Arctic, which will help mariners navigate the Bering Strait. Chart 16190 (Bering Strait North) incorporates precise depth measurements acquired recently by NOAA Ship Fairweather hydrographic surveys.
Coast Survey has also released a new edition of Chart 16220 (St Lawrence Island to Bering Strait).
“Our Arctic Nautical Charting Plan identified the need for 14 new charts in the Arctic,” explains Commander Shep Smith, chief of Coast Survey’s Marine Chart Division. “Chart 16190 was high on our list of priorities, since the Bering Strait is the maritime gateway from the Bering Sea in the Pacific Ocean to the Chukchi Sea in the Arctic Ocean.”
“Charting the gateway is absolutely vital for safe navigation, but it is more than that,” Smith says. “In addition to the very practical aspects, this chart also symbolizes an opening to the growing opportunities for maritime transportation in the Arctic.”
Charts 16190 and 16220 include recent hydrographic information in U.S. waters between Cape Prince of Wales and the immediate waters surrounding Little Diomede Island. They also include recent NOAA shoreline surveys of the Diomede Islands and Cape Prince of Wales.
NOAA Chart 16190, Bering Strait North
Chart 16190 provides 1:100,000 scale coverage, including a 1:40,000 scale inset of Little Diomede Island. Chart 16220 provides 1:315,350 scale coverage. Prior to these charts, the best available information was from Chart 16005, at a scale of 1:700,000. At that scale, every charted depth was separated by about two nautical miles and the chart depicted only a handful of depths. Most of the old charted depths were from 1950 and provided incomplete information about the depths or possible hazards on the sea floor.
Chart 16190 is the second new chart resulting from the Arctic Nautical Charting Plan. Coast Survey created the first of the new Arctic charts, Chart 16161 (Kotzebue and Approaches), in April 2012. (See New Alaska navigational chart makes increased Arctic shipping safer.) Chart 16220 had previously been maintained by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, but Coast Survey assumed responsibility for it in 2010.
The equivalent NOAA electronic navigational charts (NOAA ENC®) for 16190 will be available this summer. Watch for US4AK8D (Bering Strait North), and US5AK8D (Little Diomede Island). The 16220 ENC equivalent — US3AK89M — was created in 2012 and included the new Fairweather hydro.
Coast Survey’s Marine Chart Division is responsible for updating the nation’s 1,023 nautical charts. Chart 16190 was compiled by Kieumy Dinh and reviewed by Eric Wallner, under the management of Andew Kampia. Chart 16220 was updated by Pravin Shrestha (compiler) and Yan Xu (reviewer).
By Andrew Kampia, chief of Products Branch A, Marine Chart Division, Office of Coast Survey
When we say that many Arctic charts are lacking information critical to navigation, we’re not overstating the issue. A case in point was the 2005 edition of Chart 16304, depicting the mouth of Kuskokwim River to the City of Bethel, in Alaska. This was a preliminary chart with no hydrography, no depth measurements whatsoever.
Preliminary Chart 16304, issued in 2005
Coast Survey just released updated NOAA Chart 16304, which now includes contemporary shoreline and hydrography. (The NOAA ENC® equivalent — US4AK85M — will be available in a month or two.)
New edition of Chart 16304 has depth measurements and other charted features.
Bethel is the supply hub for this region of Alaska and the river is essential for transporting petroleum products, commercial salmon, supplies, and other cargo during limited ice season (generally June through September). However, navigating the Kuskokwim River is a unique and risky experience. As you can see from the nautical chart, the 40-mile approach to Bethel is a maze of shifting sandbars, both visible and covered, and blind channels. The channels in the river undergo constant change from year to year, because of the action of the sea, currents, and ice. A small pilot boat often precedes the vessel through these waters, constantly feeling out the channels and monitoring soundings.
Vitus Marine serves Western Alaska Coast villages and interior river ports with bulk fuel and freight transport. Mark Smith, their chief executive officer, applauded Coast Survey for mapping the Lower Kuskokwim and releasing Chart 16304, noting that “mapping greatly reduces the risk of grounding and facilitates safe and efficient marine traffic.”
“All petroleum and other critical bulk cargoes are transported via watercraft to Western Alaska ports through similar river entrances,” observed CEO Mark Smith. “Along with all navigators, Vitus encourages NOAA to aggressively address the many other, yet uncharted river entrances, where commerce regularly transits dynamic areas to reach each community.”
The Kuskokwim River forms a portion of the “Arctic” border, as provided in the Arctic Research and Policy Act of 1984.