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Monday, January 02, 2006 

Free NOAA Nautical Charts

NOAA now has free downloads of it's raster and vector (ENC) nautical charts!

These can be used with various charting software and viewers (they have some links for these). All of the charts for the US are available and there is a free update service. Prior to this they were quite expensive to buy from licensed private parties.

See: Office of Coast Survey

Poking around on that site is fun, they have a wealth of data and information, including free downloads of Acrobat versions of the Coast Pilot, a database of wrecks, historical charts and much more.

Downloads directly from NOAA are easy, especially if you know the chart numbers. They have a check-box type text download page: BSB Raster Chart downloads. I found their graphical interface a bit wanting - the above is easier. I checked off charts from Vancouver through Oregon and it was a 140MB download, not all that long with DSL. Files come zipped so are easy to use with either Mac or PC.

I couldn't get MapTec's "Free Nautical Charts" to work at all and it was a very complex sign-on system/email confirmation/error message/approval loop. Forget it and go directly to NOAA.

Also not widely reported is that NOAA also has .pdf version of the Coast Pilot available. What's nice is that these are separated into chapters and usually one or two chapters is all you need.

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About Jack

  • Adventurer, diver, sailor, photographer, writer and sometimes graphic designer. Proprietor of Optical Ocean Sales, LLC. Enjoy the blog, check back and please leave comments!
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