If anybody tells you Navionics or Garmin or any of the US charting programs corporations are updating charts - They are 100% lying to you. In US waters only the US government
does any charting surveys and it has pretty much given up due to zero dollars being budgeted except for major harbors.
The reason these chart companies do not do their own surveys is two-fold. First survey
ships and crews costs would cost more than any possible income
from such charts and the second reason is "liability" if somebody runs aground or incurs injury or death as a result of faulty charts. No corporation is going to take that on and if they did their insurance
rates would escalate to match the federal debt. All the chips, charts, and CD's are using official US government
charts for US waters and old DMA charts for international waters. If you look at the NOAA ENC
free download site you will have to pass through a disclaimer page where it is plainly laid out the US nautical charts are a minimum of 40 years or more out of date on geographical data, etc.
Outside the USA in smaller countries like the Bahamas and Turks & Caicos there are private individuals who take upon themselves to actually go out in their boats and survey
and produce good accurate charts - witness the Explorer Charts and the Wavy Line Charts. You cannot sue these people as their governments will not allow it so they can go ahead and do this service
for us. But if a US chart company - e.g. Navionics (actually they are an Italian company with a sales office in the USA) is willing to pay royalties to the owners of the Explorer Charts, Wavy Line Charts or others then they can offer those charts in their chips, CD's or whatever.
In other parts
of the 1st world the governments control the distribution of their own charts - U.K., France
, New Zealand
, and Australia
as examples and you have to pay them for their charts and sometimes have to also purchase
Program to display the charts.
However there are hundreds, if not thousands, of "public domain" old charts out there and the big charting company include them on their chips and CD's and charge you big money
for charts you can get for free.
Specifically in the Bahamas the "newest" government charts are from 1942 during WWII when the USA had military bases there. Only the Explorer Charts are "up to date" and accurate. With a few exceptions 65 years of hurricanes and human construction and alterations have significantly altered the geographical shape, position and soundings in most of the world.
Just because the chart plotter is state of the art doesn't mean the charting is. With the exception of the private endeavors outside the USA, the data in the fancy plotter, etc. is nearly half a century old and sometimes a couple centuries old. That is where guide books
fill the gap. They contain "sketch charts" which are labeled "not suitable for navigaton" (the necessary legal
disclaimer). They have been drawn by real cruisers who are interested in getting the best information out there for us and I would never venture anywhere without several good cruising guides