Friday, February 26, 2021

Say Goodbye to the First Paper Chart

Two years ago (Nov 14, 2019) we were told that NOAA was planning to do away with all paper charts and all electronic charts based on them (RNC), to be completed by end of 2024—46 months from now.  This was the famous Sunsetting article, complete, indeed, with a picture of the sunset. All charts after that date will be ENC or custom paper charts based on the ENC format.

Today NOAA announced the first printed chart that has been converted to ENC only, Lake Tahoe, chart 18665. From now on, this is ENC only—or design a paper chart of all, or any part of it in ENC format, and print it in color or have it printed for you. This is the new NCC (NOAA Custom Chart) program, which you can experiment with right now for any NOAA chart to see how it works. Here is the online NOAA NCC tool for this, along with a video on the process. I hope to supplement what they have with some instructions of our own in the  near future.

Goodbye Chart 18665.

I believe the NCC printed products will eventually be even better than the present paper charts, but this will take a while. Mariners have to get used to using ENC, which our book on Electronic Chart Navigation will help, and also the NCC tool will improve. Right now the main and maybe only drawback to ENC is their coverage of land. We don't sail there, but we do in fact look at it, and rely on it for navigation. Some nations do a better job on ENC land coverage than the US does, but overall the US has exceptionally good ENC.

A detailed reference on the use of ENC

But this is all digital business these days, GIS (geographic information systems) in particular, and NOAA has access to every possible set of GIS data for land information. Every building, every road, every elevation contour, and eventually this info will be incorporated into the new NCC.

So as of today we have fair warning. The camel's nose is under the tent. It is time to start thinking about ENC... with that in mind, we have a new online course we are about to announce on Electronic Chart Navigation. Maybe about a month out.

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