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Chart No.1 Free Download

Updated on July 14, 2014

Chart No.1

Chart No. 1
Chart No. 1

What is Chart No. 1?

Chart No. 1 is a 'key' that describes what each symbol on both NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and NGA (National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency) marine navigation charts mean.

These charts are essential tools for every mariner, both sail boater and power boater alike so being able to accurately read, interpret and understand them is critical to safety.

Although a hard copy of Chart No. 1 can be purchased from commercial vendors, it can also be downloaded for free from the link below and printed off. The eleventh edition is the current edition number.

If you do download it, make sure that you also print a copy of it because you never want to rely solely on electronics on a boat. Why? Because salt air, pounding waves and water do not make good bed-fellows with delicate electronics equipment and they can fail at any time. Don't believe me? just wander down to your local marina or public docks and see how many boaters are there griping about and working on some electronic piece of boat equipment. It happens more often than you think.

Charts vs Maps

What Is The Difference Between A Map And A Chart?

A commonly asked question is 'why is it called a chart and not a map?'. Here's the simple yet critical difference. Maps, like road maps you use for planning a road trip in your car, tell you where you CAN go. Nautical charts show you where you CAN'T go. Simple!

What Do These Chart Symbols mean

Nautical Chat Symbols & Thier Meanings
Nautical Chat Symbols & Thier Meanings

How to read nautical charts

Nautical charts contain lots of information that is represented by hundreds of different symbols and deciphering one can be like trying to decode ancient Egyptian. But that’s exactly what every sailor has to do in order to pilot their vessels safely from one location to another. Understanding the exact meaning of each symbol is absolutely critical to safe passage making and every boat should have a copy of Chart No.1 close at hand at all times.

Prepare BEFORE the Trip

Safe passage making is all about the preparation. Many boaters are good at making sure the vessel is in tip-top shape and that they have obsessively checked the latest weather reports every 9 and a half minutes but they routinely forget another important factor of the planning and preparation process, checking the charts. A lot of this oversight is due to GPS, chart plotters and other new technologies but the smart, responsible and safe boater will ALWAYS have paper charts as a back-up.

BEFORE you set out on your trip, examine the charts. Don't just look at them, EXAMINE them. DO you know what ALL of those little symbols mean? You need to know so look them up in Chart No.1 and make a mental (or paper) note of what they are. You are not just looking for hazards b ut also navigational aids too. This is particularly important if you happen to be sailing at night.

What is That?

Sailing at Night
Sailing at Night | Source

How Important Is Chart No.1?

Chart No.1 helps you to understand exactly what it is that you are seeing and that is never more important than when you are sailing at night. Look at the photo above. That's what it often looks like when you are night sailing. Complete blackness. It can be scary as hell and extremely hard on your nerves, especially after a long day of sailing when you are sleep deprived and probably cold.

The best way to sail calmly and confidently is to know what is around you at all times and the only way you can do that is to know what you are seeing. Do NOT rely on radar or any other form of electronic navigation equipment. Use them, absolutely, bot don't rely on them. They can give out at any time and then you will find yourself in BIG trouble if they are your only means of understanding the waters and hazards around you.

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