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National Imagery and Mapping Agency Sailing
Directions consist of 37 Enroutes and 5 Planning Guides.
Planning Guides describe general features of ocean basins;
Enroutes describe features of coastlines, ports, and harbors.
Sailing Directions are updated when new data requires
extensive revision of an existing volume. These data are
obtained from several sources, including pilots and foreign
One book comprises the Planning Guide and Enroute
for Antarctica. This consolidation allows for a more
effective presentation of material on this unique area.
The Planning Guides are relatively permanent; by
contrast, Sailing Directions (Enroute) are frequently
updated. Between updates, both are corrected by the Notice
Sailing Directions (Planning Guide)
Planning Guides assist the navigator in planning an extensive
oceanic voyage. Each of the Guides provides useful
information about all the countries adjacent to a particular
ocean basin. The limits of the Sailing Directions in relation
to the major ocean basins are shown in Figure 402.
Planning Guides are structured in the alphabetical order
of countries contained within the region. Information
pertaining to each country includes Buoyage Systems, Currency,
Government, Industries, Holidays, Languages,
Regulations, Firing Danger Areas, Mined Areas, Pilotage,
Search and Rescue, Reporting Systems, Submarine Operating
Areas, Time Zone, and the location of the U.S.
Sailing Directions (Enroute)
Each volume of the Sailing Directions (Enroute)
contains numbered sections along a coast or through a
strait. Figure 403a illustrates this division. Each sector is
sub-divided into paragraphs and discussed in turn. A
preface with information about authorities, references,
and conventions used in each book precedes the sector
discussions. Each book also provides conversions
between feet, fathoms, and meters, and an Information
and Suggestion Sheet.
The Chart Information Graphic, the first item in each
sector, is a graphic key for charts pertaining to that area.
The graduation of the border scale of the
chartlet enables navigators to identify the largest scale chart
for a location and to find a feature listed in the IndexGazetteer.
These graphics are not maintained by Notice to
Mariners; one should refer to the chart catalog for updated
chart listings. Other graphics may contain special
information on anchorages, significant coastal features, and
A foreign terms glossary and a comprehensive IndexGazetteer
follow the sector discussions. The Index-Gazetteer
is an alphabetical listing of described and charted
features. The Index lists each feature by geographic coordinates
and sector paragraph number.
U.S. military vessels have access to special files of data
reported via official messages known as Port Visit After
Action Reports. These reports, written in text form according
to a standardized reporting format, give complete
details of recent visits by U.S. military vessels to all foreign
ports visited. Virtually every detail regarding navigation,
services, supplies, official and unofficial contacts, and other
matters is discussed in detail, making these reports an
extremely useful adjunct to the Sailing Directions. These
files are available to “.mil” users only, and may be accessed
on the Web at: http://cnsl.spear.navy.mil, under the “Force
Navigator” link. They are also available via DoD’s classified
The National Ocean Service publishes nine United
States Coast Pilots to supplement nautical charts of U.S.
waters. Information comes from field inspections, survey
vessels, and various harbor authorities. Maritime officials
and pilotage associations provide additional information.
Coast Pilots provide more detailed information than Sailing
Directions because Sailing Directions are intended
exclusively for the oceangoing mariner. The Notice to
Mariners updates Coast Pilots.
Each volume contains comprehensive sections on local
operational considerations and navigation regulations.
Following chapters contain detailed discussions of coastal
navigation. An appendix provides information on obtaining
additional weather information, communications services, and
other data. An index and additional tables complete the
Other Nautical Texts
The government publishes several other nautical texts.
NIMA, for example, publishes Pub. 1310, Radar
Navigation and Maneuvering Board Manual and Pub. 9,
American Practical Navigator.
The U.S. Coast Guard publishes Navigation Rules for
international and inland waters. This publication, officially
known as Commandant Instruction M16672.2d, contains
the Inland Navigation Rules enacted in December 1980
and effective on all inland waters of the United States including
the Great Lakes, as well as the International
Regulations for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea, enacted
in 1972 (1972 COLREGS). Mariners should ensure
that they have the updated issue. The Coast Guard also
publishes comprehensive user’s manuals for the Loran
and GPS navigation systems; Navigation and Vessel Inspection
Circulars; and the Chemical Data Guide for Bulk
Shipment by Water.
The Government Printing Office provides several
publications on navigation, safety at sea, communications,
weather, and related topics. Additionally, it publishes
provisions of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)
relating to maritime matters. A number of private
publishers also provide maritime publications.
The International Maritime Organization, International
Hydrographic Organization, and other governing international
organizations provide information on international
navigation regulations. Chapter 1 gives these organizations’
addresses. Regulations for various Vessel Traffic
Services (VTS), canals, lock systems, and other regulated
waterways are published by the authorities which operate
them. Nautical chart and publication sales agents are a good
source of information about publications required for any
voyage. Increasingly, many regulations, whether instituted
by international or national governments, can be found online.
This includes regulations for Vessel Traffic Services,
Traffic Separation Schemes, special regulations for passage
through major canal and lock systems, port and harbor regulations,
and other information. A Web search can often
find the textual information the navigator needs.
Hardcopy vs. Softcopy Publications The navigator uses many textual information sources when planning and conducting a voyage. These sources include notices to mariners, summary of corrections, sailing directions, light lists, tide tables, sight reduction tables, and almanacs. Historically, this information has been contained in paper or so-called “hardcopy” publications. But electronic methods of production and distribution of textual material are now commonplace, and will soon replace many of the navigator’s familiar books.
This volume’s CDROM version is only one of many. Regardless of how technologically advanced we become, the printed word will always be an important method of communication. Only the means of access will change. While it is still possible to obtain hard-copy printed publications, increasingly these texts are found on-line or in the form of Compact Disc-Read Only Memory (CDROM’s). CD-ROM’s are much less expensive than printed publications to reproduce and distribute, and on-line publications have no reproduction costs at all for the producer, and only minor costs to the user, if he chooses to print them at all. Also, a few CD-ROM’s can hold entire libraries of information, making both distribution and on-board storage much easier. The advantages of electronic publications go beyond their cost savings. They can be updated easier and more often, making it possible for mariners to have frequent or even continuous access to a maintained publications database instead of receiving new editions at infrequent intervals and entering hand corrections periodically. Generally, digital publications also provide links and search engines to quickly access related information. Navigational publications are available from many sources. Military customers automatically receive or requisition most publications. The civilian navigator obtains his publications from a publisher’s agent. Larger agents representing many publishers can completely supply a ship’s chart and publication library. On-line publications produced by the U.S. government are available on the Web. This chapter will refer generally to printed publications. If the navigator has access to this data electronically, his methods of access and use will differ somewhat, but the discussion herein applies equally to both electronic and hard-copy documents.
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