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  #1  
Old 11-15-2008
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Free Booklet Charts from NOAA

While not full size (75%), this is a very user friendly product from NOAA that the chart makers probably dislike. It is updated monthly and prints well on ordinary equipment, and is easy to clip from if you want a small area for illustration purposes - I found this feature handy while completing a guidebook ("Circumnavigating the Delmarva Peninsula - A Guide for the Shoal Draft Sailor" available at Alibris). OK, I could resist a micro-plug.

(type "booklet chart noaa" into your browser. It should be first up)

It seems an excellent back-up to e-charts.
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Thanks for the tip.
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Here is the link: Office of Coast Survey
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Old 11-15-2008
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"a very user friendly product from NOAA that the chart makers probably dislike."
NOAA are the only real chart makers in the US, eveyrone else just uses their data with varying enhancements, or sometimes juts makes cheaper copies.

Nice of NOAA to figure out that PDF has been the universal format for 15 years now, and that releasing charts in PDF format will make them easier for the public to use. "A selection of experimental BookletCharts is available for free from NOAA." Sounds like NOAA is testing the waters to sell these directly, the same way they've always sold paper charts.
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Old 11-16-2008
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I'm not sure the chart makers--at least those who publish chartbooks--are going to be that upset. I downloaded the .pdf's to get from Barrington, RI to Newport, RI. To have paper charts will require printing 32 pages 8-1/2 x 11. I tried to find a rule-of-thumb price/page for inkjet printers on the web. Estimates were .11 to .20/page but varied greatly with the printer. Also, most of those estimates were for "standard" pages, mostly black text with highlights of color. This printing is color intensive, so I'm going to conservatively estimate that pages from my extremely cheap ink-jet printer (I'm thinking price/page varies iinversely w/ the cost of the printer) at .30/page--but it could be much higher. So that's roughly $10 for this very small area. Our chartbook for the area which goes from Providence to Martha's Vineyard and beyond, if I recall correctly, was about $45 (from a chandlery--probably could get a better price elsewhere) contains easily five times the area.

Also, the resulting product is 32 8-1/2 x 11 tiles, with borders. You'll either be shuffling through lots of paper or spending a lot of time carefully cutting and taping together. If you don't cut and tape--very, very carefully--three quarters of the pages don't have either the lat or the lon border, or both, so you'll be using dividers somewhat awkwardly to find or transfer coordinates. Probably this is more error prone.

So if you need extensive coverage, I think chart kits look much more attractive in the long run. That said, the quality of the printed chart was very good (even with my cheap-ass printer) so I'm going to download the entire East Coast and put them on a DVD. If for some reason I need to grab just a small area and print it, it'll be available on the boat.
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Old 11-16-2008
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Exactly, Eric. Best for areas you arn't.

I sail the Chesapeake, and the Chesapeake chart book sets are a better value for me. Waterproof and larger format.

But if I just want to look at a distant horizon for a summer trip.... Sweet.

Also, Chart books often leave out some of the higher resolution charts to reduce duplicity and save money. You may find some of the small scale charts are not in Chart books - I have found a few neat gunk holes that were not clear in the chart book.
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