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How to Read a Nautical Chart : A Complete Guide to the Symbols, Abbreviations, and Data Displayed on Nautical Charts Paperback – August 5, 2002

ISBN-13: 063-9785802174 ISBN-10: 0071376151 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: International Marine/Ragged Mountain Press; 1 edition (August 5, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071376151
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071376150
  • Product Dimensions: 0.4 x 8.5 x 10.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #709,503 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Here is everything the navigator needs to know about the nautical chart, attractively produced in a large paperback edition...informative and enjoyable. Cruising 20050803

From the Back Cover

"Calder has done it again. This comprehensive and, as importantly, readable book on navigation should be required on all boats."--Peter Nielsen, editor, SAIL magazine

"This is a wonderful chart companion: an intriguing investigation of chart development combined with practical, hands-on data on how to really put a chart to use."--Tim Queeney, editor, Ocean Navigator

Charts, whether paper or electronic, are your most fundamental navigational tool. Using them to your best advantage requires a thorough understanding of the symbols and abbreviations and an awareness of the limits of accuracy in positions and soundings.

Did you know, for example, that hydrographic standards used to collect the majority of data on modern charts are considerably less accurate than GPS position fixes? That the majority of soundings still come from lead-line surveys? That a wreck symbol surrounded by a dotted circle means it is considered dangerous? That there are four different kinds of rock symbols, each with a different meaning? And that the definition of "danger" has changed over time and will depend on the age of your charts?

In How to Read a Nautical Chart, trusted boating authority Nigel Calder answers these and hundreds of other questions clearly and concisely. He covers in detail:

  • Fundamental chartmaking concepts in plain language
  • The limits of accuracy of modern charts (paper and electronic)
  • Dozens of full-scale illustrations from actual charts
  • Expanded versions of U.S., British, and international chart symbology descriptions contained in NOAA's Chart No. 1, the British Admiralty's Chart 5011, and the IHO's INT-1
  • And much more essential information designed to improve vital chart-reading skills

How to Read a Nautical Chart should be on every navigator's bookshelf.

"Nigel's enthusiasm and insight turn a mundane chart into a map of buried treasure. Every navigator should stow a copy in the chart table."--Paul Gelder, deputy editor, Yachting Monthly


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Customer Reviews

This is a complete, accurate and succinct reference book.
Harley D. Nygren
I would consider this book to be a vital part of any vessel's safety equipment.
Richard Sharp
HOW TO READ A NAUTICAL CHART is a reference you must have.
Konrei

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 45 people found the following review helpful By David Dennis on August 7, 2005
Format: Paperback
I picked it up expecting a summary of the symbols in nautical charts and wondering why on earth anyone would write a book on such a simple subject.

What this book actually does is show why your charts might be completely inaccurate compared to GPS information and what you can do about it. It's something nobody who depends on the information in charts should be without.

It's also highly technical material and although the author's explanations are lucid and clear, it's inherently not the easiest book to read. But the information there is crucial, especially if you're planning to rely on GPS navigation and electronic charts.

The bottom line message is that many charts do not use the same way of mapping the earth as your GPS, and so navigational hazards placed on the charts may not precisely line up with information plotted off a GPS. This is particularly hazardous when you have an integrated GPS/chart plotter, which makes it appear that everything's precisely in sync. In addition, much of the information on charts as created by chart makers is not as accurately positioned as a GPS might make you think. Many charts are quite inaccurate compared to GPS.

This is important stuff and it should be emphasized that not understanding this fully and blindly relying on electronics may cause you to lose your boat.

I think it's well worth defending this book from other reviewers, who clearly didn't take the time to understand the arguments laid out so carefully by the author. For coastal cruisers who only go out in good weather, this book is probably overkill. But if you're doing long-distance cruising, these arguments could save your boat.
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By George C. Wolfe on September 18, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent book. It is well organized, and the illustrations are large enough that you can actually see what the author is talking about. If you are new to navigation, the "Includes Chart No. 1" on the cover will be confusing. The government no longer publishes Chart No. 1, which was a guide to symbols on nautical charts. The author included the entire contents of "Chart No. 1" in the text of the book, so don't look for a seperate item labled "Chart No. 1."
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Goold on July 20, 2005
Format: Paperback
I am sorry that previous reviewers, who really wanted something a lot less that this book offers, have chosen to diss this book because it offers so much. I once picked up a copy of a Henry James novel to take along as a light read on a camping trip. A mistake. But I would not criticize James for not meeting my more limited need. It was my mistake. Anyway, Calder's book is excellent and provides wonderful insight into the difficulties of making charts, and of reading them. Especially insightful on the dangers and values of chartplotters. I consider this an excellent resource for people who really want to understand all that a chart can tell them and also its limits. Excellent, excellent, excellent!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 2, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book gets great marks from everyone so I figured when I wanted to learn how to read a nautical chart, this was the go-to book. Not so much.

First, the book has a lot of information. Reviewers with a lot more navigational experience than me (I have none) think this book has everything you need to know. I don't doubt that. I'm sure the author's knowledge is expansive and beyond reproach. The issue I have is in the layout and delivery.

As I stated, I'm entirely new to navigation. This book is not a good place to start. The author immediately jumps into the variations in latitude and longitudnal (is that a word?) accuracy. That seems like it should be the last chapter -- i.e. exceptions to the rule, as opposed to leading with it. So right off, for someone new, this book dives into the weeds. Just doesn't seem right.

After that, the flow of the book is a little better and there is a ton of information to digest. Some practical, some historical, some excessive for the beginner. Again, it's a personal preference and I would have liked to have gotten the very basics early in the book and then build off of that. This book is more like drinking from a firehose -- getting all the detail thrown at you at once, consume what you can.

Bottom line: Ton of information on chart reading. I assume it's accurate and good information, it's just not easy to digest. If you are a beginner, I would recommend starting with a different book. I haven't found that book yet but I know it's not this one. After learning the basics, I believe this is probably 'the book' to own as a reference and for continued learning.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Richard Sharp on June 12, 2007
Format: Paperback
As a newbie to reading charts I soon realized that much of the information displayed on a nautical chart is difficult or imposable to decode without some reference outside of the chart itself.

This book does a beautiful job of explaining all the mysterious symbols and conventions. It also has a great introduction that puts chart creation and interpretation into a practical, real-world perspective. I would consider this book to be a vital part of any vessel's safety equipment.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Konrei TOP 1000 REVIEWER on July 30, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Since the current U.S. Administration saw fit to cease publication of CHART NO. 1, the government's own guide to reading maritime maps, back in 2000 (maybe they figured Dubai might pick up the slack around our harbors), HOW TO READ A NAUTICAL CHART is an absolutely crucial educational volume for those of us new to reading charts.

It's all here. Nigel Calder does a splendid job of taking the esoterica of chart symbolism and language and turning it into something any boater can understand in everyday terms. He also does a fine job delineating the differences between harbor charts, large area charts, GPS readings and so on, all of which have their own internal but non-complimentary logic.

If you leave the dock, knowledge of and familiarity with charts can avoid costly errors, save your boat, and literally save your life. HOW TO READ A NAUTICAL CHART is a reference you must have.
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