Up-to-date charts you can view on the Internet.
The nautical chart is a fundamental tool of marine navigation. It shows water depths, obstructions, aids to navigation, channels, shoreline, and more – hopefully all the information mariners need to navigate safely.
NOAA’s 1,000-plus U.S. coastal and Great Lakes nautical charts are viewable here on-line. Each chart is up-to-date with the most recent Notices to Mariners. Use these on-line charts as a ready reference or planning tool. Use one of NOAA’s printed or digital charts on your voyage. Click here to find your closest nautical chart sales agent.
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Official U.S. Coast Pilot – The Coast Pilots are 9 text volumes containing information important to navigators such as channel descriptions, port facilities, anchorages, bridge and cable clearances, currents, prominent features, weather, dangers, and Federal Regulations. They supplement the charts and are available from official NOAA chart agents or click here to download them for free.
Official Chart No. 1, Nautical Chart Symbols – Of course it helps if you know how to interpret all the symbols on nautical charts! This reference publication depicts basic chart elements and explains nautical chart symbols and abbreviations. Have a look at Chart No. 1. Click here for more info.
The USCG Local Notice to Mariners - Updated weekly, the US Notice to Mariners provides timely marine safety information for the correction of all US Government navigation charts and publications from a wide variety of sources. The Notices can be downloaded here for free.
Light Lists - These publications contain a list of lights, sound signals, buoys, daybeacons, and other aids to navigation. They can be downloaded here for free.
Demarcation Lines - U.S. Inland Rules apply to vessels operating inside the line of demarcation while International Rules apply outside. Demarcation lines are printed on most navigational charts and are published in the Navigation Rules. You can find info about the Demarcation Lines here.
Aids to Navigation (ATONS) - The waters of the United States and its territories are marked to assist navigation by the U.S. Aids to Navigation System. This system employs a simple arrangement of colors, shapes, numbers and light characteristics to mark navigable channels, waterways and obstructions adjacent to these. View ATONS here.
Aids to Navigation can provide a boater with the same type of information drivers get from street signs, stop signals, road barriers, detours and traffic lights. These aids may be anything from lighted structures, beacons, day markers, range lights, fog signals and landmarks to floating buoys. Each has a purpose and helps in determining location, getting from one place to another or staying out of danger. The goal of the U.S. Aids to Navigation System is to promote safe navigation on the waterway.
The U.S. Aids to Navigation System is intended for use with Nautical Charts. Charts are one of the most important tools used by boaters for planning trips and safely navigating waterways. Charts show the nature and shape of the coast, buoys and beacons, depths of water, land features, directional information, marine hazards and other pertinent information. This valuable information cannot be obtained from other sources, such as a road map or atlas.
The primary components of the U.S. Aids to Navigation System are beacons and buoys.
Beacons are aids to navigation structures that are permanently fixed to the earth's surface. They range from lighthouses to small, single-pile structures and may be located on land or in the water. Lighted beacons are called lights; unlighted beacons are called daybeacons. Beacons exhibit a daymark to make them readily visible and easily identifiable against background conditions. Generally, the daymark conveys to the boater, during daylight hours, the same significance as does the aid's light or reflector at night.
Buoys are floating aids that come in many shapes and sizes. They are moored to the seabed by concrete sinkers with chain or synthetic rope moorings of various lengths connected to the buoy body. They are intended to convey information to the boater by their shape or color, by the characteristics of a visible or audible signal, or a combination of two or more such features.
More info about ATONs can be found here.
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