NOAA BookletCharts Perfect for Kayakers

Monday, December 14, 2009

SEAtrail maritime journeys along Alaska’s coast by kayak, rowboat or canoe are enhanced when you take along both topographic maps and marine charts. This can be an expensive proposition as standard marine charts cost over $20 each. I think my last topo maps were $8 each. Besides the expense (and hassles of locating a local dealer with all of the maps/charts you want in stock), poster-sized charts are not designed for kayaker use.

NOAA Office of Coast Survey has released a new “experimental” product called a BookletChart that rescales charts and then breaks them into sections that can be printed on demand on 8.5 x 11 paper. They are formatted to be printed two-sided and then stapled as a booklet. This sounds perfect for kayakers – easy to handle, will fit in a gallon ziplock bag or commercial map case, and you can print/carry only those sections you need.

Since this product is listed as “experimental” and I don’t know exactly what that means for longer-term availability and cost, I plan to go online and download all of the charts I might possibly want in the next few years. Digital storage is cheap! You can browse the chart index map to see if your next paddle or distant dream trips are published as BookletCharts.

I’ll also be checking with NOAA to see if this experiment is expected to last long enough to justify adding links to appropriate charts from the SEAtrails web site. NOAA is asking for feedback on this new product. You’ll find a feedback link on the main BookletChart page.

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