My Favorite Chart Format

December 4, 2017

Bob Sweet, Senior Navigator

So many charts! So many formats! How do you choose?

Selecting the right charts to cover your route is only half the battle. Once that’s done, you need to choose your formats. Do you want your charts rolled or would you rather have them folded? Mapfold, trifold or folio? Waterproof or water-resistant?

It’s nice to have choices. But too many options can be paralyzing.

In the end, we just need a format that works the way we want, when we want it. Something that’s easy to pick out and use.

I’ve used all the chart formats for various situations, but there is one format that sticks out way ahead of the others. OceanGrafix calls it the “Small Format” chart.

Five Reasons to Love the Small Format Chart:

  1. SIZE: At 21-inches wide, small format charts are perfect for use at the helm, on a chart table, or even on your lap. Even though the width is less than the full-size NOAA charts (which are typically 36 inches), you need not worry that information is missing. The small format chart is split and printed on both sides, with a large overlap. To find the rest, just flip it over.
  2. SCALE: They are not rescaled like the charts you’ll find in chartbooks and many waterproof formats. Small format charts are full size—which means the scale is consistent with your plotting tools. They are also easy to read, with no squinting to read reduced-size copy.
  3. FOLD: Small format charts come pre-folded like a map, which is great for a couple reasons. Closed, the title and chart number are right on the top, so it’s easy to pick out the one you want. Plus, you can stack a whole bunch of charts in a relatively small space—and quickly pull out just what you need.
  4. DESIGN: They are flip-fold—and printed North-up, with the long dimension along the shoreline—so you can open up the chart to just where you need it. Assuming you’re running along the shore, the small format chart will always unfold along your path.
  5. PAPER: Printed on quality, water-resistant paper, these are durable charts. You can write on them to plot courses or make notes (which you can’t do on your chartplotter)—or just glance ahead for interesting places to view or visit. And because they aren’t printed until you order them, they always have the latest information.

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How to Fold a Nautical Chart

May 14, 2014

Folding a large, nautical chart can be tricky. But it doesn’t have to be.

Before you take off on your next journey, watch this brief video featuring Bob Sweet—senior navigator, author of The Weekend Navigator & GPS for Mariners, and former U.S. Power Squadrons National Educational Officer—folding a nautical chart. You’ll learn how easy it is to sail with a chart you can easily use and unfold.

Check out the other videos in this instructional series:

>How to Use a Paper Chart to Plan a Route

>How to Plan a Path Using a Paper Chart & Course Plotter

>Bob Sweet Defines the Three Phases of Safe Navigation


Steer Clear of Exhaust – Steps to Avoid CO Poisoning

October 22, 2012
This is an excerpt from the Compass, September of 2012, United States Power Squadrons

You see them every day: swimmers holding onto the swim platform chatting with friends onboard, boats anchored close together with air conditioners chugging away, children teak surfing off the swim platform of the family boat. All of these situations could become fatal because of the high risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. (Teak surfing is when a swimmer hangs on to the swim platform and is dragged behind the boat.)

Produced by the burning of carbon-based fuels, deadly, invisible carbon monoxide gas has no taste or smell.

Carbon monoxide from the exhaust of inboard engines, outboard engines and generators can build up inside and outside boats in areas near exhaust vents, such as the swim platform, making it dangerous to congregate or swim in these areas when the motor or generator is running.

Read more from the U.S. Coast Guard about how to protect against carbon monoxide poisoning.