The ship is overhauled, rigged and in the water, the season can begin. Where should you go in summer or next weekend?
For me there is hardly anything nicer, apart of course from boating itself, than pulling out the nautical charts and staking out courses and distances, choosing possible destinations, looking at ports and bays. Correcting, however, is done in a comfortable way, namely at the coffee table with a coffee or wine, only on the good old paper sea maps.
Now, this series is not intended to weigh the pros or cons of electronic and paper cards. But it also plays a role when preparing for the season. Nautical charts, whether digital or printed, should be as up-to-date as possible. They are either bought fresh for the season – more on that in a moment – or they are being corrected.
Some electronic cards have uploads that install themselves, sometimes more and sometimes less, and keep the map up to date – but only if you are really online with the right signal strength. Conversely, one should not assume that all digital maps are always automatically up to date because of this, because that is of course not the case. Unfortunately, you have to find out about the options for updating maps from the manufacturer of the maps used.
The correction of printed maps, however, is still real manual work. The officers (mostly the third officer) of professional ships still have to do this work, unless these ships are equipped with two completely independently working electronic systems: paper cards are still cheaper and so many have, in addition to the daily electronic system Ships also still have paper charts on board as backup. These must then be kept up to date, for example, by the “News for Seafarers” published by the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency, BSH. The corrections are drawn in according to these messages or small cover sheets with the new data are stuck to the affected areas of the map. As I said, a relatively time-consuming job that not everyone enjoys.
Although two redundant systems are required on commercial ships and many ships therefore still have paper maps on board, the production of these maps is falling dramatically worldwide. Many national hydrographic services already or in the near future only produce maps of their own waters, in the Netherlands there were no new paper maps at all for one season. In my opinion, this is a regrettable trend, because paper maps are not only indispensable as a backup, but also, as mentioned at the beginning, for trip planning.
Practical complete solutions
Fortunately, private companies are increasingly filling the gaps left by hydrographic services now or in the future: in England for example the traditional company Imray, in Germany also the Delius Klasing publishing house and, above all, the NV publishing house from Eckernförde. The latter has been active for decades and is probably the world’s largest private sea chart manufacturer. He currently offers maps for European and American waters (including the Caribbean) – an indication of the quality of the NV maps is the fact that even the US Coast Guard has only been using these sea maps for years.
NV-Charts offers practical complete solutions for use on board of sports boats: paper maps in a particularly user-friendly format in a combination pack with a port lot on paper and digital, a digital shore guide as well as the navigation program and the NV-charts app for electronic navigation the laptop or other devices. The paper maps are also available as atlases, i.e. booklets in A3 format: This is much more practical in everyday life on board than the loose sheets of a conventional set of sea maps. When opened, the maps have the same format and the “atlas” lies flat on the map table when opened.
In any case, in order to stay on top of the topic, there is also the free monthly correction service – according to NV Verlag, on average, every nautical chart undergoes five navigational changes per year. The correction service is free of charge in the year in which the card appears and is sent to the user by email; after the first year the service is then chargeable. The maps of the Baltic and North Sea, for example, are published annually by NV-Verlag; So much is changing in the North Sea in particular that a longer-term correction hardly makes sense.
Often more economical to buy new
Easier and, thanks to moderate prices for the cards and some good offers, also more economical – especially if you value your own time when making corrections – it is already there to buy the cards regularly. For example, NV-Verlag offers a so-called “Premium Swap” for the Baltic Sea: if you swap your old cards for new ones, you receive a discount of 40 percent! Because there is one thing you should definitely not do: Go to sea with outdated nautical charts.