Canada goes digital (and free)

If you’re planning a cruise to Canada this summer, be aware that Canadian Hydrographic Service is offering all its products in digital form and for free, a fact that I discovered while planning a cruise to the Bay of Fundy this summer from Maine. 

Whenever I contemplate sailing to an unfamiliar area I try to buy paper planning charts, and I also look for government sailing directions. Though aimed at a wide range of mariners and not especially recreational, these national publications give an overall picture of a coastal area and its harbors. All the US Sailing Directions are stored in my computer. This is possible because the US offers all its digital nautical publications for free downloading via the Internet. 

The US is unusual in this, and when at the beginning of the year I visited the website of the Canadian Hydrographic Service which surveys and charts the national waters including New Brunswick where I would be sailing, it said I had to pay for sailing directions. As my planning progressed and I grew frustrated with the available cruising guides, I returned to the website to buy whatever they had, only to find that with no fanfare, as of March 1, 2022 the Canadian Hydrographic Service has permanently discontinued printing its publications and would be offering digitized versions online for free. This includes regional Sailing Directions and annual Tide and Current Tables plus an Atlas of Tidal Currents. 

For a list of available publications and more information on the Canadian Hydrographic Service you can visit

Ann Hoffner