Chart Sources


High Resolution Background Map

A more detailed version of the built in background map is available here.
It is a big file, 230 mb(unzipped) compared to the standard 26mb,  and may slow your computer down. The presentation is better when zoomed in, but most users don't need it.
Install by unzipping and placing the files in the <install_dir>/gshhs .
<install_dir> is normally ...Program Files/OpenCPN on Windows and  /usr/share/opencpn/ on a Linux default installation.


  Free Nautical Charts

  • To get you started quickly, here are three sample raster charts from Puerto Rico:
  • Right click and use "Save Link As", or similar. Just clicking shows you the actual file as a text file (more about that advanced subject here:imgkap).  Don't use these charts for navigation.  Download their current versions from NOAA's Web site. Save the charts in a "directory", also called a "folder". Install the charts by adding this directory to the Options -> Charts -> "Loaded Charts" Tab.
  • For those interested in U.S. waters, raster charts and S57 vector charts are available as free downloads from NOAA. Find all NOAA charts, both raster (RNC) and vector (ENC) charts, for your region through NOAA OCS Website at: http://www.nauticalcharts.noaa.gov/staff/chartspubs.html. US charts cover a wide area, apart from the mainland states, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Island, the Hawaiian Island chain as far as Midway Island, American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Marianas Islands are all included
  • Official Inland Electronic Navigation Charts (IENC) of U.S. inland waterways are available from the US Army Corps of Engineers at http://www.agc.army.mil/echarts. The download link -> here
  • Argentina publishes free raster charts (RNC) for a large part of their coast as well as parts of Antarctica: Argentinian Charts
  • Croatia Croatia BSB
  • Brazil publishes free raster charts (RNC) for their whole coast and new charts for inland waters are published regularly.There is also coverage for part of Antarctica. Here is a direct link to the download page: Brazilean Charts. Don't miss the link to CARTAS DE RIOS at the bottom of this page.
  • New Zealand now publishes free BSB3 raster charts, as of 2013-11-22.  Download here. NZ has moved away from a proprietary UKHO encrypted format, to the, de facto, standard BSB format. NZ charts cover most of the Pacific in small scale charts, as well as the Southern Ocean, down to Antarctica, South of New Zealand. Detailed charts for the Kermadec Islands, Cook Islands, Niue, Tonga, Western Samoa and the Tokelau Islands, are included.
  • The version of the NZ charts compiled by Marco Certelli, includes a better coverage of the Tonga/Samoa area. The official version does not include charts with soundings in fathoms, for example. The link is here.
  • The East Asia Hydrographic Commission provides free offshore S57 vector charts for the South China Sea area at: http://scsenc.eahc.asia/main.php. The motivation for releasing these charts is well worth reading.

    Realizing that official and high quality small scale ENCs conforming with the established IHO standard were not available for the SCS, the EAHC MSs decided to cooperate closely and resolve the situation so that mariners could use most up-to-date chart information for voyage planning and enhancing safety of navigation, rather than resorted to some commercially developed electronic products which were either prepared in proprietary formats, or containing unofficial data with very infrequent updating... It was the view that if the SCS ENC could be freely and widely available to mariners, it would further enhance the safety of navigation in the region. This in turn could reduce the chances of environmental damage from grounding and oil pollution, which have tremendous cost impact. The EAHC decided to provide the SCS ENC to users free of charge.

  • Colombia and Australia publish sample S57 single charts.
  • Many European countries publish free S57 ENC charts for their inland waterways:
    Austria
    Belgium
    Bulgaria
    Croatia
  • Czech Republic
    France
    Germany
    Hungary
    Netherlands
    Romania
    Serbia
    Slovakia
    Switzerland
  • The US Pilot Charts, are available as BSB charts, on the OpenCPN.org download page.
  • The OpenSeaMap project publish raster charts in many formats (including KAP which work with OpenCPN). This project relies on mariners to survey their local waters and upload their data using the OpenStreetMap database and editing tools. This project is still in its infancy, so only a few areas have been mapped to any extent. Currently only sea-marks are displayed, but it is planned to include depth & other data in due course. For the maps, go to: openseamap.org
 

  Other Charts

 
    All platforms
  •  "Antares Charts" are producing a lot of very large scale charts covering "The West Coast of Scotland". These charts are available in many formats, including BSB3. A nominal sum is charged for the charts, to support this impressive effort by unqualified enthusiasts.
 


  Commercial Nautical Charts for OpenCPN

 
   All platforms
  • S63 Encrypted ENC charts. Worldwide coverage is available using the latest 3.3 beta version of OpenCPN. These are the official vector charts that big ships use. Detailed coverage of popular cruising grounds is not always available. For details check http://o-charts.org.
  • "nv-charts" cover the Bahamas with BSB 3 format charts. Windows is necessary, at least initially, to access the charts.
  • 1yachtua.com covers the Mediterranean and the Eastern Caribbean with BSB2 charts.
  • The Swedish company "Hydrographica" produces large scale BSB 3 charts for popular areas, based on their own surveys.
  • Another Swedish outfit, soltek.se, provides all official charts for Sweden and Finland in BSB 3 format. If you want to buy a CD-area, and don't have access to a Windows computer, contact "soltek" first, as their installation program is Windows only.
   Windows only  
  • The VisitMyHarbour "ChartSticks", are USB sticks covering UK, Ireland, Belgium, Netherlands,Spain and Portugal with UKHO rastercharts. Windows only.
  • Windows users also have access to world wide chart-coverage through the "BSB 4" and the "nv-charts" plugins. This coverage includes Europe. UK, for example, is covered by both BA and Imray charts.  A simple Internet search will reveal all necessary information.


  Links to more chart sources


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