Cruisers & Sailing Forums (
-   Navigation (
-   -   Are paper charts a dinosaur? (

Duckwheat 02-02-2015 09:51

Are paper charts a dinosaur?
Looking at things that have trundled off to obscurity in the past 10 years, I am questioning if paper charts have become a Dinosaur as well.

A relic from the past with a price tag that has you questioning their value.

What do you think relic or relevant?


gamayun 02-02-2015 10:04

Re: Are paper charts a dinosaur?
They're both. I'm all for high tech stuff, but I like to have the large charts to better get a sense of the whole picture. However, if you're going to use them, it is mo' better to print just the area you're going to need (at least in the US from NOAA) because they get updated all the time. Cheaper that way, too.

NoShoes 02-02-2015 10:04

Re: Are paper charts a dinosaur?
I will never be without papercharts, aside from the utility, they are really works of art. They are the ultimate backup to any sailing adventure and all sailors should know how to use them. Expensive, yes, but they last a very long time if well taken care of.

OldFrog75 02-02-2015 10:09

Re: Are paper charts a dinosaur?

Originally Posted by Duckwheat (Post 1739244)
Looking at things that have trundled off to obscurity in the past 10 years, I am questioning if paper charts have become a Dinosaur as well.

A relic from the past with a price tag that has you questioning their value.

What do you think relic or relevant?


I think they are relevant because:

A. You can see the big picture

B. It's easier to use a pencil, ruler, and dividers on a big piece of paper than a screen of any size.

gonesail 02-02-2015 10:15

Re: Are paper charts a dinosaur?
the paper charts are great to frame for nautical displays on walls :thumb: but yes they are still relevant especially the waterproof versions.

2Hulls 02-02-2015 10:17

Re: Are paper charts a dinosaur?
They don't require power or screens.

exMaggieDrum 02-02-2015 10:22

Re: Are paper charts a dinosaur?
Canada (from all reports) absolutely requires up-to-date paper charts for the waters you are in in their waters. They are pretty uptight about it. And it isn't cheap to get any version of Canadian charts - digital or paper. Not like US charts. Someone please let me know if any of this is incorrect.

Going across the South Pacific, large paper charts were virtually essential for good planning (for us). Using a chartplotter to plot routes was very difficult for long distances. As others have noted in other threads, CP's are great for going in to harbors or around "known" reefs. I have tried plotting long routes on CPs but they do not show smaller islands/reefs unless you zoom in on every inch of the route.

By small I mean anything smaller than the Great Barrier Reef. The loss of the Volvo racing boat north of Madagascar was probably due to this issue.

On the other hand the cost and management of paper charts can be a real problem, especially updates. All of you who have gone for any distance know how much room they take up and how hard it is to find the specific chart(s) you need and then get them stored back in some semblance of order.

Dockhead 02-02-2015 10:26

Re: Are paper charts a dinosaur?
Check the archives for endless discussion of this issue.

Short answer is you still need them, at least for planning purposes. The problem is that you can't see the big picture on a plotter screen. There is a notorious problem with electronic plotting called the "zoom problem", where details disappear at lower zoom levels. So when you are planning a passage, you can't the obstacles unless you zoom in and out over the whole route, very tedious.

Many accidents have been caused by this problem -- most recently, the Team Vestas round the world racer which ran right into an island.

There are places, like the archipelagos of Sweden and Finland, where it is really totally impossible to plan a passage without a paper chart. Because you can't pick a route out of the maze by just looking at one section at a time. It is literally impossible to do it without paper.

This is a technical problem which probably could be solved. My idea is that you should be able to program criteria for danger conditions or safe water, and the plotter should put red splotches or some other sign on the large-scale chart to alert you that you need to zoom in there. If you had a plotter with a big, high-res screen, and a function like this, you might not need paper. But until then, you do.

jkindredpdx 02-02-2015 10:37

Re: Are paper charts a dinosaur?
+1 on liking paper for functional reasons, big picture, draw lines, easier to read, easier to get latitudes and longitudes... some of mine are old so I check them against NOAA online or print out specific charts before the trip. I definitely prefer paper and pencil in the cockpit. But then, I am a Dinosaur.

Stu Jackson 02-02-2015 10:40

Re: Are paper charts a dinosaur?
Oh, no, not again!

Guns, anchors & paper charts.

A trifecta! :)

Just to add: I have an old chart of the Gulf of the Farralons, northern California outside the Golden Gate. It's from 1985, when I first started sailing out the Gate, pre-Loran & GPS days.

It has all the courses I've sailed, dated. It's a great keepsake. The buoys have NOT changed (they rarely do here, unlike some other parts of the country or the world).

I've been to Monterey twice, Half Moon Bay a dozen, Drakes Bay a half dozen, around the Farralons twice, out to the Lightbucket a dozen times. Nice to see those tracks.

After GPS came along, I logged the tracks, but it sure is nicer to see them on the BIG chart.

Your boat, your choice, unless you're in Canada. :)

Mike OReilly 02-02-2015 10:46

Re: Are paper charts a dinosaur?
I like to have both, and we do for much of our travels, but the cost of paper vs digital is hard to swallow. I just purchased ALL the charts for Canada. Everywhere: Great Lakes, St. Lawrence, east and west coast. Cost me $100. To buy this in paper would cost me many thousands of dollars. I simply could not afford it. Even to purchase just what I currently need (Great Lakes, St. Lawrence, Maritimes & NFLD) would set me back hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

So, what we do is:

#1. Have multiple digital charts (I have three separate packages on three separate plotters).
#2. Beg, borrow and steal paper charts as possible.
#3. Purchase key charts that we think we might need.
#4. Use chart compilation books like Richardson's.

I guess in the enlightened US of A you can download and print NOAA charts. Not so up here. But of course unless you have a large-size printer you're either printing small areas, or your charts need to be viewed with a magnifying glass.

BTW exMaggieDrum, I've heard this rumour before that it is mandatory to carry Canadian charts in Canada. I've never seen, or even heard of, any enforcement folks bring this up. Anyway, I just looked it up, and the answer is no, so as long as your vessel is less than 100 tons. Here's the law.

The master does not have to carry current charts as long as (s)he has:

"...sufficient knowledge of the following information, such that safe and efficient navigation in the area where the ship is to be navigated is not compromised:
(a) the location and character of charted
(i) shipping routes,
(ii) lights, buoys and marks, and
(iii) navigational hazards; and
(b) the prevailing navigational conditions, taking into account such factors as tides, currents, ice and weather patterns."

Duckwheat 02-02-2015 10:49

Re: Are paper charts a dinosaur?
Sometimes half the battle is realizing and admitting you are a dinosaur. :smile:

You can roll those charts up and stash them behind the typewriter.


jkindredpdx 02-02-2015 12:45

Are paper charts a dinosaur?

Originally Posted by Duckwheat (Post 1739307)
Sometimes half the battle is realizing and admitting you are a dinosaur. :smile:

You can roll those charts up and stash them behind the typewriter.


Or wrap your fish in them


MarkJ 02-02-2015 13:56

Re: Are paper charts a dinosaur?
When this age group of cruisers die off they will take paper charts with them.

The younger generation don't use paper in any form anymore. Even schools are stopping teaching running writing (cursive)... But its taken afull generation of teachers to die before the new methods can be allowed. Can you guess what goes on in the heads of old teachers? Oh, yes, printing may be better but they should still know cursive!

Paper charts are not being made anymore, they are just prints of ECN charts. All they are is another way at looking at information. People 30 and under just dont wish to learn an archaic method when they can have ECN in their hand on their smart phone. "Ahhh yes, but its not BIG enough" well, just project the f'ing image on the wall from your computer or phone.

So if the centre of the bell curve of cruisers is 60 to 75 it gives 15 years for paper to be totally removed from boats imho. It may happen sooner if some dopey old bugger is sued for crashing his boat while navigating with paper instead of ECN and AIS. Lock a few of the old bums in jail and paper charts will be consigned to where they ought to be: Land fill.

JPA Cate 02-02-2015 14:06

Re: Are paper charts a dinosaur?
You may be right Mark, but deals like the guy who started the thread about losing faith in electronic charts the other day, who paid a bunch of bucks and specifically wanted Easter Island included, found that what he paid for that was supposed to include it, didn't. Fortunately, Paul, discovered it was missing before running into the bloody island in the middle of the night.

Other CF'ers posted chartlets for him, suggested carrying paper, getting the pilot books, and so forth.

I think we'll be d--n stupid to totally give up on paper charts. It's not that they're so fantastically great, but they do have utility for passage planning, seeing the larger picture, and as backup. They require no electricity. They are not subject to electronics crashing (as can happen from lightning, as well as other causes).


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 16:23.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.