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How many of you can look at an image like the one below, either on paper or electronically, and explain what every item on the chart represents? I freely admit that from time to time I come across things that I’m not familiar with. In fact, just the other day I had to research what something meant.

Where do you go to look up what the symbols mean? The answer is NOAA’s Chart No. 1 publication. We keep a copy of this book in our library on board our boat, and I think that everyone could benefit from doing the same. The good news is that if you don’t want to buy the book, you can download a PDF version of it for free! Just some light Sunday afternoon reading for you. 🙂


  1. We carry the Admirity book on symbols and abbreviations (borrowed it from work before I left…..must take it back some day!)

  2. I carry both CHS Chart #1 and Admiralty 5011. There are some very minor differences.

  3. I’ve also learned to check paper and electronic charts against each other. I have one paper chart book where an entire sheet is shifted 1 minute. I have Navionics charts that show 50-foot depths in 6-foot back creeks. And there is always the dreaded “PA.”

    • PA?

      I don’t often check paper charts around here but if I’m going into someplace sketchy, I will often bring my iPad to the helm so that I can have the Garmin app open and see how the charts on it compare to the boat’s Raymarine chart plotter.

  4. Your right. There are times when you look at the charts and think “What the hell does that me”.
    I was totally confused with one the other day then realised that it was a fly squashed on the chart. One of the good things with electronic chart plotters is that if you do see something you have not seen before it will usually tell you what it is but, there is no substitute for a paper back up.

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