Coast Pilots are crucial references for safe, efficient navigation in US inland and coastal waters. Broadly speaking, they are defined as presenting the crucial navigation information that cannot or is not covered on nautical charts, including important information on weather and currents. We are fortunate in the US that these documents, like our charts, are free publications, both of which are updated weekly. Plus now each volume includes a complete, full-color copy of the Navigation Rules (see sample page below). This is valuable in that the USCG has long ago stopped providing PDF copies of the Rules, and the PDF you can find on their site is long outdated.
To encourage the use of these books, we have made a custom Interactive Index to the Volume Coverage of the US Coast Pilots, in part because this has changed not too long ago, and also because the detail we include makes it easier to discern the distinctions at the boundaries of coverage.
We recommend that all mariners download the volume that covers their own local waters and skim through the book to see what all is there. It is almost guaranteed that you will learn something valuable about your own waterway that you did not know before. You will also find out how to reach any maritime related agency you can imagine you might ever need.
The General Information section (Chapter 1) of any volume is a mini lesson in modern chart reading and navigation practice, along with radio usage, and basic weather resources.
In the Pacific Northwest waters, for example, we learn things about the current flow that we cannot learn from the Current Tables alone, because there are not current stations in all the crucial places, or the nearest stations are in much wider parts of the waterway so they underestimate the peak current speeds in the nearby channels... but the Coast Pilot tells us what the channel currents really are.
You can download this interactive PDF here:
(The best digital graphic we could find adds a bit of an international touch to the program!)
A typical volume link then shows more specifically what it covers with the chapter numbers indicated, as shown below. Each volume page has a link to the NOAA site so you can download the volume of interest.
Below is a sample of the Nav Rules included in the Coast Pilot. To see details, click it, then right click, open in new tab, and then zoom. This Coast Pilot version uses an effective way to highlight differences between inland and international rules.