Nearly 2.3 million charts were downloaded within 90 days of the October 2013 beta release of NOAA’s free PDF nautical charts, which provide up-to-date navigation information in this universally available file type.
“To us, that represented more than two million opportunities to avoid an accident at sea,” says Rear Admiral Gerd Glang, director of NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey. “Up-to-date charts help boaters avoid groundings and other dangers to navigation, so our aim is to get charts into the hands of as many boaters as we can.”
The free PDF charts are one product in NOAA’s suite of easy-to-access navigational products and services, which also includes print-on-demand paper charts, electronic navigational charts (NOAA ENC®), and raster navigational charts (NOAA RNC®).
With the end of bulk-printed paper charts, advancements in computing and mobile technologies make it possible for NOAA to deliver accurate nautical charts in the format that works best for boaters, fishing vessels, and commercial mariners.
Not sure which one you need? Check out NOAA’s interactive chart locator, where boaters can select a chart from a map of the U.S. and choose their format.
It’s important to know that printing PDFs may alter a chart’s scale, color, or legibility. Ships that are required to carry a navigational chart "published by the National Ocean Service" should obtain printed charts from NOAA-certified Print-on-Demand (POD) providers.