Why we love it

Nautical charts like this one embody a remarkably refined, restrained, and efficient design. They communicate large amounts of information quickly and with a very high degree of accuracy. In fact, charts like this are legal documents bound to the strictest standards. When we think about the complex business of moving people and cargo around the world, we realize that “getting it wrong” has serious consequences. We love how this chart gets it right by literally making the invisible visible.

Why it works

Unlike road maps, nautical charts do not always show a predetermined path. Rather, it’s up to the navigator to plot or correct a course using data within the chart including navigational aids and soundings. Because of tides, a chart must be able to show places that change from one hour to the next. And charts must constantly be updated as channels silt up and depths change. This chart works because it allows vessels to safely navigate its waters—a testament to utility and refined design.

Important steps


Tips and tricks

NOAA Office of Coast Survey logo

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