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What is a Nautical Chart?

A nautical chart is a graphic portrayal of the marine environment. Unlike some other types of maps, it has a very serious use as a tool for mariners to navigate safely at sea. A nautical chart shows the nature and form of the coast, the depths of the water, character and configuration of the sea bottom, locations of hazards and dangers, the rise and fall of the tides, ocean currents, magnetic variation, regulatory boundaries, and the locations of aids to navigation (e.g., lights, buoys, beacons and other important landmarks).

Above all, the modern nautical chart is accurate, compiled systematically, and part of an interconnected electronic series. All of this means that mariners can easily transition from one chart to another, to safely and efficiently reach a destination.