How Old Are Your Charts?

In an effort to inform boaters about the importance of up-to-date navigational information, several boating industry leaders have announced that they have joined forces to form the Alliance for Safe Navigation. Sponsored by NOAA, the Alliance consists of BoatU.S., Jeppesen Marine, the United States Power Squadrons (USPS), OceanGrafix and the Sea Tow Foundation for Boating Safety and Education.

Is your chart current?

The purpose of the Alliance is to raise boater awareness about the importance of having and using the most current navigation information to avoid potential groundings and other accidents. The Alliance has identified a widespread lack of awareness among boaters regarding the accuracy of their charts, whether electronic or paper. The truth is that inaccurate chart information can turn a safe and enjoyable cruise into a dangerous situation.

Unlike commercial mariners, who are required by law to carry up-to-date charts, recreational boaters are not held to the same regulation. In fact, recreational boaters aren’t required to have any charts onboard. Nautical charts, whether paper or electronic, can become quickly outdated as storms and currents alter waterway topography or aids to navigation change with little warning.

Boaters can go to and enter the numbers of their most commonly used charts and instantly see a list of all the changes for that chart since the last print date. Some boaters and anglers will be surprised at the number of updates posted for their local waters.

Many boaters don’t realize that even though they have a GPS and a chartplotter, the electronic charts in their receiver may be just as out-of-date as their paper charts. Fortunately, updating is easier than ever with print-on-demand charts and free NOAA downloads available. Manufacturers of chart products also have update subscriptions to alert their customers when a new edition is released.

Keeping electronic and paper charts up-to-date is inexpensive and easy. The Alliance’s goal is to educate the boating community about how quickly their charts can become outdated and how easy it is to keep them current. In addition, the Alliance wants to encourage boaters to be aware of the significant and frequent changes that are occurring in their local boating area.

For more information or to be surprised as to how many changes have been made to your charts, go to

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Filed under Boat Operation, Boating News, Boating Safety, Navigation

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