Importance of Updating Boating Charts

boating chartsAs yacht insurance providers, we understand that being prepared is an important step in avoiding accidents. One of the most critical tasks for any mariner is to make sure that boating charts are updated regularly.

Why should recreational and commercial boaters update boating charts?

  • Conditions of coastal waters do not stay the same
  • New obstacles – wrecks or natural obstructions – are documented
  • Shorelines change
  • New marine facilities are built
  • Channels might be dredged or routes changed
  • Shoaling occurs naturally and can be a navigation hazard

A few trusted agencies strive to provide updated nautical chart information to help ensure safe marine travel. These are:

The US Coast Guard Local Notice to Mariners (LNM) – published weekly and considered a primary source of detailed updates.

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) Notice to Mariners (NM) – is intended primarily for deep ocean vessels so it rarely includes updates for water shallower than 18 feet. Still advisable to check in case updates shown here are not covered in the LNM.

The Canadian Coast Guard Notice to Mariners (NM) – imperative for any mariners travelling into Canadian waters but still advisable for the overlapping US and Canadian charted territory.

There are different types of charts available, all of which need to be revised so that boaters are navigating with the most up-to-date information. As yacht insurance providers, we have some valuable tips about updating boating charts:

  • Paper charts are a traditional choice for many mariners, but obviously it is also crucial to check updates from USCG LNM, NGA NM, and the Canadian Coast Guard NM. Knowledgeable mariners can make updates and corrections by hand, which takes time and mathematical navigational ability. There is a risk of error.
  • Print on Demand (POD) charts are printed when you purchase giving you confidence that recent updates have been made. They should show the dates of the most recent LNM and NM changes applied to the chart. From the point of purchase forward, however, the mariner must watch for updates and make them manually.
  • Raster charts are electronic images of the paper charts posted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on the Internet for free download. Electronic chart companies offer update services so that files can be downloaded and applied to the raster chart.
  • The NOAA offers over 600 Electronic Navigational Charts (ENC) which they strive to revise weekly. Mariners must register their ENC to obtain updates through online accounts.
  • The United States Coast Pilot is a series of books with additional information about the coastal waters and Great Lakes not easily depicted on a nautical chart. Updates are regularly available as downloads.

The main obstacle with updating boating charts is that it requires diligence and effort on the part of each mariner. Coastal waters are ever-changing and current nautical charts are important for safe marine travel. However, even with the best preparations, accidents may still happen.

Are you confident that you have enough coverage? Global Marine Insurance is a specialized agency that provides Agreed Value Coverage instead of just a Cash Value estimate, as well as additional coverage for salvage, pollution, and crew, and specific marine coverage like yacht insurance.

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