NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey has been on a long program to digitize and customize the process of distributing nautical charts to users. The latest step in that process is an updated custom chart site with the release of NOAA Custom Chart version 2.0 (devgis.charttools.noaa.gov).
NOAA is calling this “a dynamic map application.” It enables users to create their paper and PDF nautical charts that are derived from the official NOAA electronic chart the NOAA ENC. Users can create nautical charts with customized scale and extent, which can then be downloaded as PDF files. The data on the chart is much like traditional paper nautical charts, showing soundings, buoys, beacons and other aids to navigation, compass roses, etc.
According to NOAA the biggest change in the new version is the addition of the Personal Chart Catalog functionality, which allows users to save their charts to an exported Chart Catalog file. Users can then recreate a chart or multiple charts repeatedly as NOAA releases ENC updates by uploading the file in a new session of the NOAA Custom Chart in their web browser. The Chart Catalog file is small in size and can be emailed easily as an attachment, allowing users to share with print vendors or collaborate with others. NOAA is working on enhancing its Chart Updates website to allow users to upload the same Chart Catalog file and check for updates to their custom charts.
Custom chart PDFs created for letter or legal-size paper can be printed on a home printer. PDFs for large format charts may be sent to one of five companies working with NOAA (Frugal Navigator, Paradise Cay Publications, TrakMaps, The Blueprint Shop, East View Geospatial) for plotting or can also be printed through local commercial print shops.