|North coast of British Columbia: Rocks keep being found, charts are updated, and new chart editions produced|
We've written several posts about electronic nautical charts, especially in Mexico, and have noted that commercial charts, such as Navionics, are not always as up-to-date as the official national charts. Returning home to Canada in 2015, it was a relief to be back in well-charted waters.
Well, not always.... But at least our charts are regularly updated, as well as new chart editions being produced.
Pelagia's Furuno chartplotter uses vector charts from C-Map, which we assiduously update each year (at a cost of about C$120/yr). However, we have learned to always compare these vector charts with our Canadian Hydrographic Service (CHS) charts (in raster format), as they are regularly updated (as much as monthly, when required). We also feel less likely to miss a charted hazard on a raster chart compared to a vector chart (learned many years ago, from direct experience unfortunately).
With the excellent CHS charts available here in Canada, it is easy to become a little less attentive to keeping charts updated. Especially given CHS raster chart packages are pretty pricey (C$522 for all of BC coast). However, their purchase includes two years of chart updates (online), effectively giving one updated charts for three summer cruising seasons. (Sure. It would be nice if CHS would provide our charts for free, as is the case for NOAA charts in the USA. As CHS notes, however, "domestic, fiscal and social policy" is different between the USA and Canada. Yes, indeed. So, given the choice.... ).
Preparing for our cruising this coming Summer (back to Haida Gwaii!), I've started looking into changes in charts since we were last up there in 2011. I'm finding many. New surveys, new charts and, unfortunately, I guess boaters finding rocks. Here are just two examples (in places we are likely to go; see small scale chart above):
Rock in passage between Penrose Island and unnamed island at North end of Klaquaek Channel (Rivers Inlet):
Absent on charts earlier than 2016, somebody must have found this rock the "hard" way (shown by the "+" in the circle, indicating "underwater rock of unknown depth, dangerous to surface navigation").
"New" rocks in Windy Bay, Lyell Island (Haida Gwaii)
I found this update after I read a recent local newspaper report of a charter sailboat (that takes guests on week-long cruises in Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve) hitting rocks in Windy Bay, a main stop for cruisers in the park. Don't know if this is the rock it hit, but: in place of a 5.8m sounding and kelp (pre-2011), there are now two rocks (one awash at chart datum, and the other drying at 0.4m tide level).
Pelagia is too valuable to us to take chances without having the most up-to-date, official* CHS raster nautical charts. C$522 for 3 years seems a small price to pay for the added security. In practice, we compare our C-MAP and CHS charts in advance and then, in tricky areas, we run both the C-MAP charts on our chartplotter and the CHS raster charts on our Android tablet (with both in the cockpit).**
*Technically, CHS raster navigational charts do not satisfy ECDIS requirements for ships over 100 tons. However, Canadian chart carrying regulations make exceptions for ships under 100 tons, provided they have sufficient "local" knowledge. This includes: the location and character of charted lights buoys, marks, shipping routes, navigational hazards, and prevailing navigational conditions, such as ice, tides, currents, and weather patterns.
** We do have and occasionally use Navionics charts (on our Android tablet). However, we prefer C-MAP vector charts, and even more so the CHS raster charts. We have considerable distrust for "Community Edits", especially when it comes to hazards such as rocks, as well as anchorage suggestions.