I enjoyed the recent special section on Charts and Navigation in Issue No. 111, Jan./Feb. 2001. They were two of the most informative articles I’ve read in a long time. Although much progress is being made, I continue to be concerned about timely and complete updating of charts, regardless of the medium – paper or electronic. It’s certainly true that few recreational boaters bother about updates. The dependence on local marina scuttlebutt, as Richard Hubbard notes, is all too prevalent.
With all the changes to our buoyage system planned for 2001, I have to wonder how our many visiting sailors will cope with the frequent fog conditions in Maine. In Local Notice to Mariners 44/00, I note that the Penobscot Bay Charts 13302 and 303 had four buoys deleted, two added, two renumbered and moved, and two changed from can to nun or vice versa, all essentially on a course from Tenants Harbor to Vinalhaven. Local Notice to Mariners 46/00 announces four further buoy changes in Penobscot Bay plus plans for a further 15 changes before mid-June. In addition there will be some six changes in Somes Sound and the Western Way approach. Maybe we should pray for a no-fog summer!
Perhaps it’s time for us, particularly Congress and the government, to stop looking on charts as a useful luxury and start regarding an up-to-date chart as an essential item of safety equipment that must be on every boat. Such a policy would result in increased sales and thereby drive down the cost. A Canadian recreational boater is required to either carry an updated chart or show he has detailed knowledge of his operating area. For essentially the same price as our charts the Canadians get a chart updated to the time of shipping from their hydrographic office.