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Over Hill Sailing Club
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The NOAA effort to provide free, downloadable nav. charts in raster and enc formats is a very useful government program and has surely allowed many sailors access to this basic safety information. Other governments of the world, however, withhold this information so they can extract as many dollars as possible from sailors who enter their waters. Is there a reasonable way to obtain good nav. charts of other countries? There are American proprietary sources from GPS companies that are just ridiculously expensive, an absolute gouge. I believe updated chart information should be available worldwide to promote safe navigation and that safe navigation should not be auctioned to the highest bidder.
 

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Most on the non-American charts used world wide are British Admiralty generated and I think that when their car industry collapsed, the Admiralty took on the mantle of Top Forex Earner for the British economy.

Their charts are outrageously priced (damned good but damned expensive) whether in paper form or electronic.

The thing about providing free charts in the quest for safety at sea is that 90% of the charts sold in the world are to merchant shipping companies and to them the cost is chickenfeed. We get stung because they don't worry about the cost and will pay what it takes.
 

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Over Hill Sailing Club
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3,688 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
It's also true, of course, that our Dept. of Defense has excellent charts in DNC format which they refuse to release in deference to governments (UK, Fra, Rus) that make money from selling them. Perhaps some political pressure needs to be put on the US govt. to make these legally available to your everyday sailor. I'm guessing that much of the data included in these charts has been obtained with US taxpayer dollars and should be available just as the NOAA charts. At the very least, some reasonable prices should be initiated so that we average boaters can easily obtain good charts without mortgaging our grandchildren's futures.
 

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Aspiring Boat Bum
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Had the same question. Had downloaded all the NOAA charts and started looking for charts of UK and the Med (not going yet but my daydream for a couple of years down the road) and was really shocked at the prices. Looked at various sourcse for the British Admiralty charts online but when the cost for a minimal set of charts for a cruise to Europe topped five figures I stopped counting.

Further research I found overseas charts available on DVD from Maptech. Maptech: Topo Maps Charts Navigation Software GPS and FREE Online Mapserver. Called and asked for details on the list of charts included on several of the DVDs and it looked pretty complete. Have no experience with the company or products so would be really interested in any comments from anyone actually using their charts.
 

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If you're really serious about buying decent quality used charts, try here: http://www.cruisingconnections.co.za/charts.htm

Tony Herrick has been dealing in used (and new) charts for years and I remember him as having a very extensive selection of world-wide Admiralty stuff. He ships world-wide too.

No, I have no connection to Tony, have just bought a boat-load of decent quality charts from him over the years.
 

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I assume at that point the onus is on the cruiser to wade through years if not decades of Notice to Mariners to update every chart, which is some cases is going to mean moving four buoys and tracing in a new TraveLift slip, but in others could mean hours of careful calligraphy and a stock of very fine-tipped pens.

Not to mention that some older charts are off due to Capt. Cook's intestinal gas during the noonsight in 1773 or some other cumulative effect.

I think sometimes it would be prudent to figure out the last year in which a chart was updated, just to avoid such mistakes and to have a degree of confidence that the datum isn't obscure, or, like using a 20 year old chart of Dubai, that there haven't been "developments" that constitute an entirely new coastline.

I use a variety of old and new charts for Lake Ontario, which changes little in terms of reefs or things that are going to tear me a new thruhull, but which alters greatly in terms of buoyage (often the important stuff that does mark those few awash rocks and the like). Notices to mariner updates are a very good idea if you are travelling at night without RADAR. By day, a chartbook and the Sailing Directions and a large-scale chart to plot bearings suffices.

Approaching a South Pacific atoll with a hand-drawn map in a book by a guy named "Coconut Charlie" who says "last time I was here they were blowing a hole for a new hotel and the spoil field might be here"...I'm going to want the new chart!
 

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Over Hill Sailing Club
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3,688 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
To follow up on charts that are available, I finally went with C-Map charts and the Sailcruiser program from Jeppeson. Bluewater was very helpful and I'd recommend talking to their staff who are right up to speed on this stuff. The prices for C-Map charts are quite reasonable and far below the price of other electronic chart companies. I like to have PAPER charts if only because I have always used paper charts and don't really trust that electronic gizmos will continue to work. What I have been doing is printing out critical charts on a cheap ink jet printer(aboard), and putting them in a binder. (Laser printer would be better but they are energy hogs and sometimes don't like working on even pure sine inverters.) Printing them out this way, I have actual (grayscale) charts when needed. I don't have a fancy hi-res computer screen right in front of me. Having these printed charts for close-in navigation is essential. It is also a good place to make log notes.
 
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