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Marine Charts and Canadian Tide and Current Tables

June 30, 2022

When gazing at a vast expanse of water stretching across the horizon, it’s easy to imagine that a boat offers you endless possibilities. However, the reality of boating requires attention to the hidden dangers, busy navigation routes and changeable conditions of the water.

With modern technology and access to information, it has never been easier for boaters to find out everything they need in order to boat safely. But how exactly is this information conveyed to boaters, and where is it made available?

Find out about marine charts, tide and current tables and other types of navigation publications in this article from Drive a Boat Canada!

Marine charts

Also known as nautical charts, marine charts are specialized maps used for navigation by boat. They provide boaters with vitally important information about a given area, including water depth, hazards, navigation routes, buoys and markers, coastal areas and landmarks, and places to take shelter in adverse weather conditions. They are also marked with a 32-point compass rose to help boaters determine their exact position and navigate their route precisely.

Canadian Tide and Current Tables

The Canadian Tide and Current Tables provide boaters with important information about navigational conditions. Tide tables predict the vertical movement of the tides, with details regarding the height of the water at its lowest and highest level and the time of day. Current tables refer to the horizontal movement of the water, with information about slack water times and the maximum velocity of the current.

Where to access nautical publications

The Canadian Hydrographic Service is the main resource for the various types of nautical publications. The Canadian Coast Guard publishes Notices to Mariners on a monthly basis with updates for marine charts and other publications.

The Canadian Hydrographic Service now offers free digital downloads of all of its nautical publications. Electronic versions can be used in conjunction with marine GPS and magnetic compasses to provide boaters with highly accurate information about their position and route.

Nautical publications required by law

Boaters are required to have certain nautical publications that cover the area they’re boating in on board at all times. These include marine charts, the latest edition of the Notices to Mariners, the Canadian Tide and Current Tables and the List of Lights, Buoys and Fog Signals.

Vessels under 100 gross tonnage are exempt from this requirement, as long as the operator is familiar enough with the area and its shipping routes, hazards and navigational conditions that no one’s safety will be compromised.

See the Navigation Safety Regulations for a full list of required publications for different types of vessels.

Drive a Boat Canada: Your resource for boating information

Knowing how to operate a vessel isn’t all there is to boating. There are a variety of tools available to help you chart your course, avoid hazards and respect other boaters, and it’s important to know how to use them.

Fortunately, there are comprehensive boating safety courses that teach beginners everything they need to know before setting out on the water for the first time. In fact, Canadian law requires new boaters to take a course and pass a boating exam online or in person before obtaining their boat license and operating a vessel. Register with Drive a Boat Canada today to begin your boating adventure!