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Find Your Way with NOAA Charts

Alaska is a maritime state. We have more coastline than the rest of the United States put together.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has made it easy to examine the charts covering our coastlines, islands and channels with their Online Chart Viewer at http://www.nauticalcharts.noaa.gov/mcd/OnLineViewer.html.

Start by clicking on Alaska. If the chart names and numbers are not familar to you, then click on the zoomable Alaska Catalog chart. By using this map, I found the chart for my local area was chart 17315,
Gastineau Channel and Taku Inlet;Juneau Harbor. The charts show water depths and known features. As a bonus, it also provides topographic mapping of the land areas. The chart also tells me that the channel in back of my condo is approximately 16-18 fathoms deep (96′-108′).  This is shallower than I imagined the channel to be, but still plenty deep for the cruise ships that ply the channel past my window.

If you are a boater, NOAA instructs you NOT to use these online charts for navigation. They suggest buying a paper chart.

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