There has been some consternation regarding the recent announcement from NOAA that they would no longer produce the familiar paper charts. Whether you navigate by celestial or GPS, having up to date physical charts should be a given aboard a well equipped vessel. Capt. Henry E. Marx, of Landfall Navigation comments on the subject, which should put everyone’s mind at ease:
“The announcement by NOAA last fall that they were ceasing to produce Paper Charts was not entirely accurate. What they are doing is ceasing to produce the Lithographic Paper Chart - not the Print-on-Demand product which is also a “Waterproof Paper Chart” that has actually been available for a number of years.
In the past, whenever NOAA produced a new addition of a chart, they printed a large quantity for their warehouse and then shipped them to their Chart Agents from whom you purchase your charts. These new editions frequently did not happen for 3-5 years - which meant that the chart you purchased had data on it that was old and no longer depicted the buoy placements, bridge heights etc. accurately. Also, when a new edition was produced the government and your chart agent threw out lots of obsolete paper which was time consuming and expensive.
The Print on Demand Chart, on the other hand, is printed at your chart agent’s shop when you order the chart. It is printed in his shop and the data base for his chart printer is updated every week with the Local Notice to Mariners corrections. Therefore, you receive a chart that is current and up to date, every time.
Also, it is printed on Waterproof Paper - an improvement from the old paper.”