The End of Lithographic Charts Are Near, Print-on-Demand Paper Charts Are the Better Option

Effective April 13, 2014, NOAA will stop printing lithographic nautical charts. Fear not, the shift has already been swayed into Print-on-Demand charts. NOAA-certified Print-on-Demand partners will continue to sell up-to-date paper nautical charts. NOAA POD charts are produced under contract by POD partners. NOAA is responsible for all navigational content of the charts. The POD partners do not alter the digital images; they print and distribute the chart images as updated by NOAA on a daily basis.

“In 1999, NOAA formed partnerships with Print-on-Demand (POD) commercial partners to print nautical charts that are up-to-date at the time of printing. Since that time, most of the chart customers have switched to POD for printed charts, and even more customers are using the charts digitally. As much as we’d like to continue the tradition of lithography, it is no longer justified as a use of tax dollars. This is the right way to go.” – NOAA Office of Coast Survey.

What is the difference between a lithograph chart and a Print-on-Demand chart?

● The Print-on-Demand chart is available from companies that have an agreement with NOAA. POD charts contain corrections released in the weekly Notice to Mariners up to the actual date of printing.

● The NOAA lithograph chart is the traditional paper chart. The federal government prints each chart in large print runs at the time of a new edition, and keeps it in stock until purchased. After a mariner buys a lithograph chart, they must make corrections by hand; this can entail hundreds of corrections through many years (until the next edition).

Key Features of Print-on-Demand Charts

Updated Weekly. Kept up to date with critical corrections from Notices to Mariners and other corrections (such as wrecks, rocks, and obstructions) not yet published.

Available Immediately. New editions are available 2-8 weeks sooner than traditional NOAA paper charts.

Local Distributors. Printed at multiple sites in the U.S. and overseas. Bluewater Books and Charts is a POD distributor.

Enhanced Readability. Printed in brighter colors so that the charts are easier to read. Additionally, you can order charts without the Loran grid for enhanced readability.

Durable. Available in two durable versions: water-resistant paper (preferred by most mariners) and fully waterproof.

Added Value. Useful navigational information, such as tide tables, bridge clearances, and excerpts from the Coast Pilot, is included in chart margins. The information is specific to  commercial or recreational mariner’s needs.

*Bluewater is selling lithographic charts until the inventory is out of stock. If you would like to purchase lithographic charts, please call 800-942-2583 as they are not listed on our website.

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