Reply To: New to navigation: what paper charts do you recommend?

Nick Heath

Yes, welcome, Phil.

I’m not recommending what I do, but I’ll tell you anyhow…

Yes, I have many paper CHS charts, some old some newer. I love them and, for the information that they contain, they are inexpensive, but they are inconvenient. To start, they are not a good fit in a chart case that is usable in a kayak. Secondly, they need lots of home storage space, preferably flat. Thirdly, one never seems to have the correct chart when wanting to view one on a cold winter night at home…

So electronic charts are far more convenient because one can view which ones you want, print out (and laminate) those that you will need on a trip and save some money, too. A printed laminated chart is (I think ) the best for kayaking, although the purist navigator will complain that the necessary pencil notations cannot then be made as you check your running fixes and do dead reckoning (deduced reckoning, really) as you paddle along.

I have 2 sets of CHS electronic charts – one a bit old (8 yr) and one ancient.  I regularly use the ancient ones because they have no security key and after changing computers numerous times I eventually lost the security code to the newer ones.

Technically, the master of a vessel must carry current charts and that means updating them annually or whenever a ‘Notice to Mariners’ is issued for that area.  This is definitely overkill for kayakers, who don’t need to know that Q53 buoy has been moved 15 m to the W or that the revised charted depth in Friendly Channel is actually 7.8 m rather than the originally published 8.5 m. The terrain does not move much.

I will be happy to share some or all of these old charts with you. To read them you will need a navigation application on your computer. There are some good ones that are free or some inexpensive ones you can buy. You can usually save output as a pdf and use a colour printer at some retail outlet if you don’t own one.

Another way to go is to use Navionics – always current (as required), available for your handheld devices, but not to easy (for me at least) to print off to take with you.

I would never rely on electronic gizmos for 100% of nav needs.

At one time I bought Garmin’s BlueCharts for my GPS and that worked well for a while, until the device ate them – an expensive loss!

I prefer route planning on a computer and CHS electronic charts do that well.

I’m sure there will be others with very differing opinions!