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Out with the old?

In a press release issued yesterday, October 22, NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey, which creates and maintains the nation’s suite of thousands of nautical charts, announced that it will no longer print traditional lithographic (paper) nautical charts. The release went on to say that NOAA will continue to provide other forms of nautical charts, including print on demand (POD) and for electronic charting systems.

“Like most other mariners, I grew up on NOAA lithographic charts and have used them for years,” said Rear Admiral Gerd Glang, director of NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey. “We know that changing chart formats and availability will be a difficult change for some mariners who love their traditional paper charts, but we’re still going to provide other forms of our official charts.”


Plotting on paper

Since 1862, those lithographic nautical charts — available in marine shops and other stores — have been printed by the U.S. government and sold to the public by commercial vendors. The decision to stop production is based on several factors, including the declining demand for lithographic charts, the increasing use of digital and electronic charts, and federal budget realities.

“With the end of traditional paper charts, our primary concern continues to be making sure that boaters, fishing vessels, and commercial mariners have access to the most accurate, up-to-date nautical chart in a format that works well for them,” said Capt. Shep Smith, chief of Coast Survey’s Marine Chart Division. “Fortunately, advancements in computing and mobile technologies give us many more options than was possible years ago.”


Is it best to have both?

NOAA will continue to create and maintain other forms of nautical charts, including the increasingly popularPrint on Demand (POD) charts, updated paper charts available from NOAA-certified printers. NOAAelectronic navigational charts (NOAA ENC®) and raster navigational charts (NOAA RNC®), used in a variety of electronic charting systems, are also updated weekly and are available for free download from the Coast Survey website.

The world of navigation is benefiting from advances in technology, Smith explained. He said that NOAA will consult with chart users and private businesses about the future of U.S. navigation, especially exploring the use of NOAA charts as the basis for new products.

The Bottom Line


Electronic navigation is increasingly popular with recreational boaters.

It seems clear that NOAA isn’t making enough income off of paper. So they are moving towards more lucrative delivery systems.

This is good news for trailblazers like ActiveCaptain, the first to market with a crowd-sourced, electronic navigation product and the only Interactive Cruising Guidebook online. Since then, ActiveCaptain has been integrated with top e-nav systems across all platforms, like Garmin’s BlueChart Mobile, Navimatics Charts & Tides, Polarview, SEAiq, Jeppesen’s C-MAP, MaxSea, Nobeltec, and more.

Stop the Presses!

With all these choices available to everyone’s price-range, it’s no wonder NOAA has made the decision to stop the presses.

Paper charts will ultimately go the way of the Newspaper. As the developer of ActiveCaptain put it, ” I think that’s a big announcement and is just one more of a series of nails in the coffin of paper charts. It acknowledges what has happened in every other industry which has experienced similar technology changes. In this case, it’s the chart image, not the media, that’s important.”

It probably bodes well for cruising guide publishers like On The Water ChartGuides. Publisher Mark Doyle learned early on that if you’re going to compete in the digital navigation market, you’ll need to update often. His Intracoastal Waterway CruiseGuide and other guides come with free daily updates and alerts via Facebook, Twitter, RSS, and even text or email. As people find it too expensive to purchase charts Printed On Demand, they will want to turn to these comfortable chart books for detailed information and charts of US waterways.


PDF Chart of San Francisco Bay from NOAA.

FREE CHARTS! (For a Limited Time)

For a limited time, NOAA is offering its entire suite of charts in PDF file format. For the three-month trial period, you can download about a thousand high-resolution printable nautical charts – almost the entire suite of charts. These PDFs are exact images of the traditional charts we have come to love, currently printed by lithography. They are available now! Go to: http://www.nauticalcharts.noaa.gov/pdfcharts/ for info and to download the PDF charts. You’ll need to have their Chart Viewer to choose which numbers you want.

So whether you decide to give up your paper charts and go solely digital or hold out for another year, keep in mind that if you are using paper, you’ll have to check Local Notice to Mariners for updates – a time-consuming job, for sure!

Check out the discussion (it’s a lively one!) on ActiveCaptains eBoatCards Discussion Group. It’s free to join.


Lastly, if you’re thinking about tossing your paper charts, consider giving them a second life by donating them to a local sailing group. Or send them to me and I will up cycle them into something very cool!



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I thought it might be fun to do one of my own memes that folks put on Facebook. So here’s my take on “What People Think I Do.”




Truth is…it’s all true!!

Photos by Nancy Birnbaum © 2012

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Join BoaterRated at the Treasure Coast Marine Flea Market and Seafood Fest 

Exclusive Offer to BoaterRated Facebook Fans – Free Tickets to the Treasure Coast Nautical Flea Market, Vero Beach, July 23-24

BoaterRated.com is sponsoring the upcoming Treasure Coast Nautical Flea Market & Seafood Fest that takes place in Vero Beach, FL on July 23-24, 2011. For those of you in or near the Treasure and Space Coast areas, this is a nautical event that you don’t want to miss. The Flea Market is a wonderful destination for the whole family. You’ll be able to go shopping for tremendous deals on boating and fishing gear and apparel. There will also be a huge variety of great seafood to feast on. And don’t forget the terrific music from the golden era of Rock ‘n’ Roll! It’s the best way to spend a weekend off the water!

If you’re at the event, please make sure to visit the BoaterRated crew, under the pavilion in booth spaces 111 – 112. Take a minute to play the guessing game and enter to win some phenomenal prizes. They’re not giving away just any old prizes. They’re giving away valuable gift cards that you and your family can use to increase your boating enjoyment this summer! So be sure to stop by.

Now for the best part: BoaterRated has 15 FREE tickets to the Flea Market ready to give away. All you need to do to win a free ticket is to go to the BoaterRated Facebook page and “Like” us. The first 15 people to become new fans will be eligible for a free ticket. Not on Facebook and don’t want to be? You’re also eligible for a free ticket if you sign up as a new member on BoaterRated.com and then send them an email at info@BoaterRated.com to let them know you’d like a ticket. So there are two ways to win. Just be quick! There’s only 15 tickets to give away!


Become a fan on Facebook before July 23rd and you may win a free ticket to the Flea!

WHEN: July 23 – 24, 2011
9 AM to 6 PM

WHERE: Indian River Fairgrounds
7955 58th Ave
Vero Beach, FL 32967

Chlidren 12 and Under Free


  • Luscious Seafood
  • 50-60’s Live Music
  • Sizzling Summer Bargains
  • PUBLIC BOAT AUCTION! Over 100 boat repossessions, short sales, dealer trades, and private liquidations will be up for sale. The auction boat preview is all day Saturday July 23 and the sale starts at 11:00 AM Sunday July 24, 2011. To pre register to sell or buy a boat go to http://www.FieldsAuction.net/ or call (561) 844-0440.
The Marine Flea Market will also have antique collectibles and maps, marine artifacts, rods, reels, lures and lines, boating apparel, taxidermy, diving equipment, and much more. Come by for some super discounts on liquidation, closeouts, new, and used boating and fishing supplies.  

Marine manufacturers, distributors, dealers and marine related businesses of all types will be selling new and used marine equipment as well as ‘scratch and dent’ merchandise or products that are overstocked or older models.

Treasure Coast Marine Flea Market and Seafood Fest Major Sponsors:

  • Prestige VW
  • Southeast Honda of Melbourne
  • Wells Fargo Bank
  • MarineMax of Stuart
  • BoaterRated.com
  • U.S. Boating News
  • Oldies 103.7 FM

 Also, the festival will be raising money and supporting the Treasure Coast Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.


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Marine Industry Grabs Hold As Boaters Buck Bad Economy, Welcomes Us to the Water

You can certainly tell that its boating season again. Even those hearty boaters up north are beginning to see a thaw in the frigid economic climate, in fact there’s more than enough water in most of the mid-west and south with the Mississippi River and tributaries at record flood levels. There’s even good news from the Government, promising lower fuel prices by Summer, If 2011 is anything like last year, we’ll be seeing record numbers of boaters hitting U.S. waterways again.

The marine industry is starting to see signs of recovery as we move past the recession,” said Jeff Malehorn, president and CEO of GE Capital’s Commercial Distribution Finance (CDF).

Now we all know that if those that hold the purse strings see fit to share some, things will most likely improve all around. Times are tough for almost everyone. Most of us working folks don’t have the funds to fly somewhere for a vacation this summer. But if you’ve got a boat, well then you’ve got a reason to be happy! Heck, last year, even as the troublesome economic times hit, millions of Americans — 75 million to be exact — found the perfect way to relax and de-stress: a weekend of boating.


Recreational Boating Tide Rises

According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), recreational boating saw numbers hit a record in 2010, when 32.4 percent of American adults participated in the leisure activity. That’s the highest percentage since 1999, even as other industries sank as the recession took hold.

Supporting this trend, results from a boating habits survey conducted in late April of a 4,200 person sampling of members of the nation’s largest boat owners group, BoatU.S., revealed that 95 percent of respondents said the current economy would not stop them from using their boat this summer and 23 percent noted they would go boating more often this summer than last.

NMMA President , Thom Dammrich, likens it to “…that whole concept of a staycation. For what it costs you for one week in Disney World, you could be out on the boat every single weekend.”

The only segment of the industry that’s still not enjoying increases is new boat sales. Nationwide, 188,230 new power and sailboats were sold last year, down about 10 percent from 2009.

Used boats are still as popular as ever. There were 929,900 pre-owned boats sold in 2010, a decrease of 2.4 percent compared to 2009, a likely result of continuing pent-up demand for boats and consumers looking for lower price points in the pre-owned market, this according to NMMA’s findings from its annual Recreational Boating Statistical Abstract.

“Despite decreases in new boat sales last year, the industry remains alive and well as existing boaters took to the water in record numbers and had a willingness to spend on their boats and boating outings,” notes Dammrich.


Image courtesy of NMMA.org

Signs of a Recovery

Over the winter, NMMA – the largest boat show producer in the U.S., saw 70 percent increase in attendance at its 15 boat shows, an indicator that buyers were returning. Echoing these attendance increases, exhibitors at NMMA shows reported improved sales over last year, strong leads and more attendees looking to make a purchase.

Leading the way back to the water is Discover Boating, the industry’s premier PR campaign. Launched back in 2005, it is the industry’s official national public awareness effort to help Americans get started in boating. The industry credits its campaign with helping bolster boating participation in 2006, 2007 and 2008. As a result of the economic recession, Discover Boating was forced to scale back its PR efforts in 2009 and 2010.

This summer, however, the Discover Boating campaign is being re-ignited with a new theme titled “Welcome to the Water” designed to encourage the existing 75 million U.S. boaters to share their passion for boating by inviting their friends and family to the water.  The campaign features a new and exciting Facebook app (their fan page has added 27,000 fans and now totals 68,245 fans as of today!), online advertising, TV, radio and of course, print ads and an inspiring new video short entitled “A Good Run.”

Regional Rebound

The report claims that the Great Lakes region has remained one of the strongest for new boat, engine, trailer, accessory and services sales in 2010 with six out of the eight Great Lakes states seeing growth and the remaining two seeing just single digit declines.

In order of sales growth:

Pennsylvania increased 11.9 percent from $202 million in 2009 to $226 million in 2010
Michigan increased 10.6 percent from $317 million in 2009 to $351 million in 2010
Ohio increased 5.5 percent from $222 million in 2009 to $235 million in 2010
New York increased 5.3 percent from $381 million in 2009 to $401 million in 2010
Illinois increased 5.2 percent from $234 million in 2009 to $246 million in 2010
Indiana increased .5 percent from $144 million in 2009 to $145 million in 2010.

The remaining two Great Lakes states: Minnesota decreased 5.5 percent from $305 million in 2009 to $289 million in 2010 and Wisconsin decreased two percent from $298 million in 2009 to $292 million in 2010.

NMMA’s Recreational Boating Statistical Abstract also shows two out of ten boaters live in the Great Lakes region which translates into nearly 17 million boaters residing in these states alone, making the Great Lakes region the top region for recreational boating in the U.S.

Link to complete abstract: http://www.nmma.org/news.aspx?id=17966

See you on the water!

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Today and tomorrow only…


Retweet todays’ tweet “Download @iBoatShows for free and get the best, most comprehensive list of #boatshows anywhere! (+ a bonus!)” and you’ll get a free code to redeem at the AppStore!

Or, if you’re not yet a Twitter user you can “Friend” me on my YourCruising Editor Facebook page!

You’ll be supporting Youth Sailing!


Many thanks!

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We had a great time last night at the Lighthouse Point YC for the Hillsboro Inlet Sailing Club’s monthly general meeting where I gave a slide show presentation on my sailing voyages with the Star Clippers and threw a huge raffle!

Royal Clipper under sail

Thanks to the hearty folks who stayed for the slide show and were rewarded with some great IPhone app codes and gear!

We made sure that everyone who purchased a raffle ticket to help the Youth Sailing Program got to take something home.

The first winners called were able to pick from a terrific assortment of donations like Navigation software from Navionics, Polar Navy, and Nav Apps from a long list (see below) of app developers, TreeFrog Pads, LokSak waterproof bags, Otterbox iPhone case, and more.

I hope that everyone enjoys their apps, gear or software and be sure to tell other smartphone users!

app-icon-bannerHere’s a list of all the Donors:

  1. 1st prize Captain bundle of courses (value $300)
  2. 2nd prize Bareboat Charter Master (value $160)
  3. 3rd prize skipper (value $95)
  • Navimatics: Charts&Tides for East, Gulf & Great Lakes ($24.99)
  • Navionics: – Chartplotter Apps, Charts and Laptop Software ($9.99-$130.00)
  • Pinkfroot: ShipFinder ($4.99) & ShipFinder HD ($7.99)
  • Roger Boesch: SailMaps ($5.99), SailBook ($5.99)
  • TreeFrogPads: 5 Incredibly Sticky Pads! ($12.95 ea)
  • LokSak: aLOKSAK waterproof bags and cases ($7.99 – 29.99)
  • Otterbox: Universal iPhone 4 Defender Series case ($49.95)
  • Polar Navy: PolarView NS – Navigation software licenses. ($39.99)
  • Xantrex: 5 – USB DC Chargers ($9.99)

If your missed the raffle, there’s still time to get your free app codes. Anyone who donates to the Youth Sailing Program can get free app codes or other prizes.
Email: info@itaptouch.com for details, but hurry because Apple Redeem Codes are only good for a short time!

Thanks again to all the donors who continue to create great apps for all us sailors!

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Finally there’s an App For That! iBoatShows™ delivers boat show information on iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad

Sept. 30, 2010 – iTapTouch, LLC, a mobile applications development company, announced that their first app – iBoatShows™ — has been approved and is now available in the Apple App Store. The application was designed in response to the growing demand for key information on boat shows and other marine-industry events. iBoatShows, available today as a free download at the Apple App Store or through the company website, www.iboatshows.com, helps boaters locate a show near them or anywhere in the world. The app also features a quick-search function allowing users to discover what each show or event has to offer and obtain tickets. The app also includes an “Extras” section that allows users to take advantage of special offers by exhibitors, or access social media sites like Twitter and Facebook to tell others about what they’ve found.


The application is the first of several planned applications by iTapTouch, including iBoatShows Custom®, which will focus on individual shows, allowing boaters access to detailed, real-time show information. Customized for any and all shows that want to offer a personalized, dynamic, multi-faceted solution, the apps will provide attendees with convenient mobile access to expo, destination, and exhibitor/vendor information, as well as promotions and sales. iBoatShows Custom will be rolled out later this year.

iTapTouch is the first mobile-only company to join with the Mad Mariner Network, which now includes nine websites, DIY Boat Owner magazine, and the largest social network in the marine industry. iBoatShows for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch will expand Mad Mariner’s ability to connect advertisers with an audience of enthusiastic boaters.

About iTapTouch, LLC

iTapTouch, LLC is a privately held, woman-owned company formed expressly to develop mobile applications for the marine industry. iTapTouch, LLC is owned and managed by Nancy Birnbaum, a long-time boater, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed Captain, and writer/editor in the marine industry. More information about iBoatShows can be found at www.iboatshows.com. iBoatShows can be downloaded at the Apple App Store.

Contact: Nancy Birnbaum

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