Traditional marine paper charts are being phased out Jan. 2, 2025 Dina Mendros

Many recreational boaters are not aware that traditional Marine Navigation Charts will be phased out by Jan. 1, 2025 and will no longer be updated or available for purchase. The sunset plan announced in 2019 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has already been implemented in parts of the Great Lakes and in certain areas on the eastern seaboard, including some areas on the Maine coast, according to Peter Poulin, FSO-HR, ADSO-HR, SLO-Maine.

Updates to both paper charts and electronic charts were becoming difficult to sustain, Poulin said. NOAA reallocated resources to enhance electronic chart features and introduced NOAA Custom Charts (NCC). The new chart format is designed to replace paper charts and is derived from electronic chart data.

Though many recreational boaters rely on chart plotters and electronic charts, , he said, paper charts offer the advantage of visualizing a much larger area than can be seen on a chart plotter screen. Having paper charts on board is still highly recommended, particularly in the challenging waters of the Maine coast. Important details on a chart disappear when zooming out on an electronic chart plotter.

NOAA Custom Charts will require recreational boaters to learn how to use the online tool to produce a substitute for the traditional Marine Navigation Charts, Poulin said. Information and registration can be found at Certified Instructors of the USCG Auxiliary offer a variety of boating courses in person and virtually that appeal to all levels of boating experience.

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