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


How Old is Your NOAA Chart?

December 26, 2011

We’d like to see all boaters be as safe as possible on the water. One simple thing you can do is to check the age of your chart.

If your chart is a POD (print on demand) NOAA chart from OceanGrafix, locate the chart number at the bottom left. Below that is an “Additional Corrections” box that itemizes other changes (LNMs, NMs, etc.) and the dates associated. These changes supersede the edition publication date information and need to be applied in order to make your chart accurate.

For a pre-printed (non-POD) chart, find the chart number at the bottom left. Above that is the “edition” number, followed by the month/year the chart was printed.

For either type of chart, check oceangrafix.com to determine if a new chart is available or if there are updates to be made to your chart.

Keeping your chart up to date will keep you safer on the water!