Chart work plotting tools

About Using Different Chartwork Tools

Chartwork The Tools for the Job

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If we are going to navigate anywhere safely and effectively, we are going to need some tools The list below is not exhaustive and is a minimum requirement  A short description only is given here, as we will cover each item in depth as we progress through the course of this book With regard to the makes models and styles available, there is an huge variety to choose from and it basically comes down to personal preference and budget  In this course on chartwork, we will avoid looking at options and stick to the critical path which is chartwork so we will assume that we are using the absolute basic equipment, which for our purposes is perfectly adequate

Nautical Chart:

This is a Map, a physical representation of a portion of the earth’s surface A chart provides valuable information to the navigator allowing him or her to avoid hazards and dangers anticipate difficulties and develop a safe passage plan

Chart 5011:

Chart 5011 is not actually a chart as such but a booklet published by the Hydro graphic Office and is a compendium of illustrations and explanations of all the “SYMBOLS ABREVIATIONS USED ON ADMIRALTY CHARTS” Exactly what it says on the packet! This is an essential companion to Admiralty Charts

Magnetic Compass:

This is a device or instrument which uses the Earth’s Magnetic field to determine or measure direction A Magnetic compass can be fixed to the ships structure usually on the fore and aft line in a convenient spot for the helmsman or pilot to navigate by or it can be a hand held device, which can be used to take bearings Ideally, at least one of each should be available


Do not forget the humble pencil and its buddies the pencil sharpener and the rubber or eraser Life is not easy without them Pick a soft lead pencil such as an HB2 Charts are expensive and the easier a pencil mark can be erased the longer the life of your chart

Parallel Rules:

This device consists of two rulers joined with a linkage that allows the rulers to be open and closed A compass course can be aligned on a convenient compass rose on the chart and walked across in steps by opening and shutting the rules until the desired position is reached and the course laid off The process is reverse to read of a bearing


An adjustable instrument consisting of two pointed legs hinged at the top that is used to measure or step out distance on a Chart


Compasses are similar to dividers  An adjustable instrument consisting of two legs one pointed and the other with a device for holding a pencil and hinged at the top that is used to circles or arcs on a Chart

Protractors and squares:

There are a number of different designs of protractors and squares available for chartwork All essentially fulfil the same function That is to draw a line in a particular direction and to measure a line in a particular direction The choice is very much one for the individual My own preferences are the square protractor for simplicity and for functionality accuracy and flexibility the Portland Square, which is in fact a pair of triangles that are used together Skilled operation with the Portland Square can fulfil the need of both protractor and parallel rule

Admiralty Tide Tables and Tidal Stream Atlas:

Tide tables give the time of High and Low Water at ports and secondary ports Volume One covers the British Isles, European and Mediterranean Ports  Tidal Stream Atlases show the direction of the Tidal Stream for each hour of the day relative to a the time of High Water at a relative port

Sailing Directions:

Sailing Directions and Pilot Books are suited more to the requirements of the professional navigator Published by the Hydrographic Office the full set of pilot books gives world coverage Each individual pilot book covers a particular area and they contain a wealth of information specific to that area regarding, meteorology tidal streams, refuge, pilot services anchorages and approaches, coastlines including sketches and photographs

Nautical Almanac:

A good nautical almanac is essential Browns and Reeds are probably the most commonly used Each contains a wealth of information on tidal data, lists of lights, astronomical, navigation and conversion tables

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