High Resolution Background Map
A more detailed version of the built in background GSHHS map is available
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 <data_install_dir>/gshhs. which is normally:
- Windows …/Program Files/OpenCPN
- MacOS …/Applications/OpenCPN.app/Contents/SharedSupport
- Linux default ../usr/share/opencpn/
Free Nautical Charts
Get 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.
Chart Downloader Plugin
The Chart Downloader Plugin, included with Opencpn 4.2 and above, will help you to download, update and organize almost all free chart sources described below.
Free Chart Sources
- NOAA's Chart Downloads 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. 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) and U.S. Inland Waterways from US Army Corps of Engineers. The download link IENC
- Argentinian Charts Free raster charts (RNC) for a large part of their coast as well as parts of Antarctica: Note that the downloadable “zip” files actually are “rar” files.
- Brazilean Charts 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- East Asia Hydrographic Commission provides free offshore S57 vector charts for the South China Sea. See the Note at the bottom of this section.
- Many European countries publish free S57 ENC charts for their Inland Waterways:
- Ukraine offers some non-calibrated char downloads
- US Pilot Charts are BSB charts
- openseamap.org 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.
Note: The motivation for releasing the East Asia Hydrographic 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.
- 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
- O-Charts.org S63 Encrypted ENC charts. Worldwide coverage is available using the 4.0.0 version of OpenCPN. These are the official vector charts that big ships use. Detailed coverage of popular cruising grounds is not always available.
- oeSENC (Proprietary) O-Charts. These are vector charts licensed from official bodies for OpenCPN, especially for users in Europe. This is an encrypted format with its own plug-in, the oeSENC plug-in. Special and exclusive for OCPN. Derived from S-57, but already in an easy to digest format for OCPN (ocpn encrypted SENC). O-Charts.org.
- Nv-Charts has an extensive, almost worldwide coverage. Generally the Windows only “nv-chart plugin” is needed. Charts in some areas, such as the Bahamas, the Windward and Leeward Islands, are however traditional BSB3 charts. It is necessary to use Windows initially to access these charts. Once this is done, it should be possible to transfer the charts to other platforms.
- 1yachtua.com covers the Mediterranean and the Eastern Caribbean with BSB2 charts.
- Hydrographica a Swedish company produces large scale BSB 3 charts for popular areas, based on their own surveys.
- soltek.se another Swedish outfit, 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.
- The VisitMyHarbour "ChartSticks" for OpenCPN are USB sticks covering UK, Ireland, Belgium, Netherlands,Spain (including the Canary Islands) and Portugal (including Madeira and the Azores) with UKHO rastercharts, updated yearly. New for 2015 is a coverage of the French coast from Dunkirk to Brest through large scale SHOM charts on some USB sticks.
- Nv-chart Plugin and BSB 4 Windows users also have access to world wide chart-coverage through the Nv-chartts which 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
- Links to a wide selection of ENC's for U.S. inland waters and other countries are available at : http://www.dacust.com/inlandwaters/index.html.
GE2KAP Tool to Make Chart Overlays
- This is a windows only program. The produced charts can however, be used on any platform
- GE2kap is a program that semi-automatically creates kap charts from Google Earth, and many other sources.
- The new Jan. 08, 2016, edition creates charts from GE, chart images and SasPlanet. Can overlay opencpn chart and chart images including GeoTiff and GeoPDF. Enhanced support for SasPlanet.
- Download from GE2KAP
- GE2KAP now supports SASPlanet and all the sources it can use.