Resources for Recreational Boaters

NOAA Offers Free Nautical Products for Fun and Safety


A Boatload of Nautical Products

NOAA's Office of Coast Survey, the nation's nautical chartmaker, provides a suite of products to help make maritime transportation safe for all users. These products, while keeping commerce safely moving through our nation's waterways and ports, provide valuable information to the recreational boating community as well. Explore the free NOAA nautical products available to help make your next trip an enjoyable one.

NOAA's BookletChart


NOAA BookletCharts™ contain all the information of the full-scale nautical chart but is reduced in scale and divided into multiple pages for convenience.  The BookletCharts help recreational boaters locate themselves on the water.  Boaters like to put each page in a sheet protector and keep them handy. They are updated weekly and printable at home for free.


Electronic Navigation Charts

NOAA Electronic Navigation Charts (ENCs) use vector data to help provide real-time ship positioning, as well as collision and grounding avoidance. Free updates for NOAA ENCs are available weekly on the NOAA Weekly Chart Updates page.

NOAA's Custom Chart

Custom Chart

NOAA Custom Chart is an application that enables boaters to define the scale and paper size of custom-made nautical charts centered on a position of their choosing. Once the functionality of this prototype is fully developed, NOAA Custom Chart will be an easy way for boaters to create a paper or digital back-up for the electronic chart system or other GPS-enabled chart display that they are using on board.

United States Coast Pilot

United States Coast Pilot

The United States Coast Pilot® expands on the information on nautical charts and provides sailing directions for U.S. coastal and intracoastal waterways and the Great Lakes.  Within its nine volumes of supplemental information, the Coast Pilot provides information from channel and wharf descriptions to weather and ice conditions. Coast Pilot updates are continually posted on its website.

NOAA's nowCoast Website


On the water and need information in near real-time?  NOAA's nowCOAST, a web mapping portal, provides access to observations, forecasts, imagery, and geo-referenceed layers for all regions of the U.S.  NowCOAST is updated at regular intervals throughout the day  so boaters can stay aware of the ever-changing environment.

Symbols Used on Nautical Charts

U.S. Chart No. 1

Understanding nautical charts is critical to navigating waterways. The U.S. Chart No. 1 provides descriptions for the symbols, abbreviations, and terms found on both paper and electronic navigational charts.

Historical Map & Chart Collection Logo

Historical Map & Chart Collection

It’s fun to learn the history of where you’re sailing, and studying old charts sometimes reveal histories you never suspected. Our Historical Map & Chart Collection has more than 35,000 images, covering offshore and onshore sites. They include some of the nation’s earliest nautical charts, bathymetric maps, city plans, and even a special collection of Civil War maps, charts and sketches.

Travel the Seas Video

Educational Activities and Videos

Teach kids about nautical charting or even learn more yourself with NOAA’s educational activities and videos. Travel the Seas, an animated primer on nautical charts, is a great way to get started!

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More Information

Did you know?

NOAA's U.S. Chart No. 1 explains all the numbers and symbols found on both paper and electronic nautical charts.

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