NOAA BookletCharts are
available for free download
We all know that using the latest
charts is important to safe navigation
and preventing groundings, but when
was the last time you updated your
charts, whether paper or electronic? Are
you relying on a five-year-old cruising guide as your primary source of
water-depth information? Officials at
the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA) say most recreational boaters are unaware of NOAA’s
free resources to make it easy for boaters
to have the latest charts on hand.
NOAA BookletCharts are reduced
in scale and divided into pages for convenience, but otherwise contain all the
information of the full-scale nautical
chart. BookletCharts are digital and can
be printed or simply downloaded for
free to any computer or mobile device.
Boaters can print the pages relevant to
their cruising, put them in a waterproof
sheet protector, and keep them handy on
board. Charts are updated weekly.
NOAA’s BookletCharts take what
used to be an unruly large paper chart
and break it into manageable-sized files
that can easily be printed on your home
computer. Within minutes, and at no
cost, you can have charts in hand and the
peace of mind that comes with knowing
you have the latest data available on the
waterways you use.
Another cool tool (accessible at
is the NOAA Chart Dates of Latest
Editions, which allows boaters to see if
the chart of their area has been recently
updated. — R.A.
WHAT IS IT? (from previous page)
If you guessed a bent rudder, you’d be close – sort of. The Vector Fin
is an evolution of traditional stabilizer fins that increases efficiency
while reducing side effects, according to manufacturer Side-Power.
Compared to a traditional flat fin, Vector Fin’s curve generates
force that reduces sway and yaw and creates lift at speed, thus
reducing drag. It’s designed for big boats of 50-plus feet.
Great Loop traffic on the rise
Boat traffic on the Great Loop in the Great Lakes region was up some 200 percent last season in one popular Looper port that kept track of the transients and their destinations. The staff at Grand Haven Municipal Marina expects more of the
same this season. Looper traffic typically peaks in late August through the third week of
September in western Michigan.
The Great Loop is a 6,000-plus-mile system of natural and man-made inland waterways that run from Florida to Canada and include the Atlantic and Gulf Intracoastal
Waterways, the Great Lakes, the Rideau Canal, and the Mississippi and Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. Most boaters cruise portions of the Loop, as it can take a year to
complete the full system.
Access to the Great Lakes is from the Hudson River. Loopers
are known to spend two to three weeks cruising, eventually
reaching Chicago in late summer. From there, boaters take the
shipping canal to the Mississippi River, head south, and spend
the winter cruising the warmer Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.
The increased Looper traffic has been credited to the recovering national economy, while the Great Lakes’ elevated water level
recently has meant more shallow-water marinas could host vessels
of the size typically following the Great Loop. — DAN ARMITAGE
expects to host a
record number of
when Great Loop
traffic peaks in