Whilst 1:25 and 1:50 Ordnance Survey maps are superb for Sea Kayak route planning and navigation, Nautical charts offer another ‘view’ of the coastal landscape. ‘Understanding A Nautical Chart‘ by Paul Boissier is a new release from Wiley Nautical aimed squarely at helping people read and understand the huge array of data contained in a nautical chart.

I should be clear that this book does not teach the reader how to navigate. Instead it looks in great detail at what a nautical chart is, how they are created and then how to read and interpret the data within them.

Initial chapters set the scene of nautical charts: what they are, how they are created, basic history and types of projections. This is followed by a series of chapters, each dedicated chapters to different aspects of the information provided in a nautical chart.

The book makes use of a huge number of colour diagrams and sections of charts to illustrate the subject matter. The last section of the book contains a detailed, illustrated key to all the Admiralty Chart symbols and abbreviations as a quick reference.

Understanding A Nautical Chart is authored by Paul Bossier, an ex-senior Admiral in the Navy and now Chief Executive of the RNLI. It is obvious from the book that he really knows his stuff but what I also liked is the accessible style of his writing. The subject matter, may to some, seem quite dry but I found the book very engaging to read.

It would be all too obvious to state this book is for newcomers to Nautical Charts. However, the audience for this book is far greater. The book has more than enough detail to provide new information chart users of any experience and would provide a superb reference guide. At an A4, paperback size, it’s unlikely to be something you would carry on a trip rather, it would make a nice tool to utilise during the pre-trip planning. At £16-99 it’s not a cheap book (although Amazon currently have it on offer at £11-99) but certainly worth the investment if you are interested in expanding your understanding of Nautical Charts.

Final thoughts would be that, for those paddlers considering attending either of the BCU Navigation Courses, this would be a useful text to develop your knowledge of charts. It’s also worth considering knowing that 50p donation from every sale goes directly to the RNLI.

Useful Links
Understanding a Nautical Chart
– Amazon Bookstore Page
Wiley Nautical – Wiley Nautical Website
RNLI – RNLI Website