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    Re: USCG approves use of electronic charts
    From: Lu Abel
    Date: 2016 Feb 10, 13:40 -0800

    You may be unaware, but electronic charts have been legal for use aboard commercial ships whose rules are governed by the international body (SOLAS?  Not sure of which exact body) for several years now.   In fact, I was surprised to read this announcement because I thought it applied to vessels operating in US waters also.

    Lest there be any misunderstanding, this announcement applies to "ENC" or "S-57" electronic charts, not the more commonplace "chartplotter" charts found on many recreational boats.   I personally deeply distrust chartplotters because (a) I had a personal experience looking at a chartplotter and its chart at a boat show and when I panned around on it I discovered a pair of well-known and well-buoyed reefs at the two most common approaches to a popular small-boat harbor where NOT shown; when I pointed it out to the most senior person I could find in the booth he simply shrugged his shoulders and said "we don't produce the [data] cartridges; (b) I have never been able to get a chartplotter cartridge producer to articulate exactly what measures they take to verify the quality and accuracy of their cartridges.

    On the other hand, NOAA produces their ENC electronic charts from EXACTLY the same database that is used to produce their paper charts, so I can not think of a mechanism whereby an electronic chart would not show the same information as a traditional paper chart.

    Okay, there is an electronic display involved, but these are commercial-grade display units, not cheap computers.  And likely duplicated on the bridge of any large commercial vessel.  They are also directly connected to the ship's GPS, so the ship's exact location on the chart is always shown -- in contrast to having to laboriously plot it on a paper chart!

    These commercial charts and chart display units also allow much flexibility.   For example, depths can be displayed in feet, fathoms, or meters just by adjusting a parameter in the display.  This might be extremely useful on a ship whose depthsounder can only display meters.  And I believe the blue-water/white-water demarcation can be adjusted -- very useful for a deep-draft ship instead of having to squint at a large-scale harbor chart with the blue/white demarcation at but 6 or 12 feet.

    Why do you feel that retaining paper charts is necessary for "prudent seamanship?"

    On 2/10/2016 1:18 PM, Jackson McDonald wrote:

    Respectfully disagree with USCG.
    Paper charts + electronic charts = prudent seamanship.


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