NOAA Lithographic Nautical Charts
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Lithographic Nautical Charts are the traditional paper charts that are updated with each new edition and are one of NOAA's signature products. The comprehensive suite of traditional paper charts can be used to navigate the Great Lakes and the coastal waters of the U.S. and its territories.
Traditional paper charts are produced by a lithographic printing process, and are printed by the Federal Aviation Administration. Individual charts vary in physical size and scale to meet specific needs of mariners. For example:
- Most traditional paper charts are printed on one side of large-format, durable paper
- Small-craft charts are pre-folded much like a road map and are tailored for use by the recreational boater
- Some traditional charts that cover rivers or canals are created in page format and are spiral bound to form a book
When a new chart edition is created, it includes the latest nautical information available to NOAA up until the time of printing. New editions are published when one or more changes of navigational importance render the prior printing obsolete. During a typical year, NOAA may create 200 to 300 new chart editions. The edition number and date (month and year of printing) are found in the lower left corner of the chart. The dates of the latest Notice to Mariners and Local Notice to Mariners corrections applied to the chart are also listed.
NOAA's Online Chart Viewer
NOAA's 1,000-plus U.S. coastal and Great Lakes nautical charts are viewable online. Each chart is up-to-date with the most recent Notices to Mariners corrections.
The West Advisor
The West Advisor articles have answered boaters' questions and provided solutions to boating problems for more than 20 years. West Marine has compiled one of the Web's most comprehensive collections of technical boating information articles.