Sea Maps

Sea Maps – Find Your Way in the Seas!

Sea Maps

It is no secret that more than 70% of the world’s surface is occupied with water. With so much water in the form of oceans, sea, rivers, etc., how can one not know where to look for water while traveling or where they will have to take a boat or a ship?

What is a better way to guide the world other than a map? Maps were discovered in old medieval times; before that, people were known to follow the lead of astronomy to find their way on land and water.

Voyaging without navigation is like getting lost in a dark jungle!

Sea maps are made to help navigate the routes and directions while voyaging in the waters. However, the ratio of the sea to land is changing drastically due to climatic changes; this affects the accuracy of the sea charts.

The sea charts are not like regular topographical maps. It requires proper training and study to understand what the map is telling. If you are interested in getting to know about the sea or aim to be a mariner, read ahead, and you will find all the information you need.

What are Sea Maps Called?

Sea maps are commonly known as nautical charts. Nautical charts are usually made for mariners to help them in their journey in the water. In addition, it is a guideline for navigation in the water.

Sea Maps

A nautical map or a sea map depicts the navigation based on the configuration, shoreline, seafloor, and depth. The calculations are as accurate as possible and account for locations, anchorage, and other features.

Sea maps are made differently than a common topographical map or a river map.

Types of Sea Maps:

There are four types of nautical maps. The maps vary based on the sizes of the scale.

  • Harbor Plans: These plans are made on a larger scale than the topographical charts but smaller than other sea charts; the scale it usually uses is, 1:50,000
  • Coast Charts: These charts use a larger scale than the harbor plans. The scale they use is 1:50,000 – 1:300,000.
  • Sailing Charts:  The sailing charts use the largest scale as they cover the largest chunk of the sea for directions and navigation. The scale used is 1:1.000,000 – 1:4,000,000.
  • General Charts: The general charts are not specific and can depict the entire area. The general plan uses a scale anywhere from 1:50,000 to 1:4,000,000.

The above-stated are the most commonly used charts of the sea. However, they are used for different purposes and at different times.

Features included in a Nautical Plan:

A nautical plan is dedicated to the waters. A few features are present in all the plans, no matter which of the categories it belongs to. The features include:

  • Latitude and longitude scales
  • Topographical configurations
  • Navigation aides (for example, lighthouses, radio beacons, etc.)
  • Magnetic information (water depth, an indication of water reefs, etc.)
  • Warning signs of the dangers ahead.

Where can you get a Nautical Chart?

Sea Maps

Nautical charts use different indices for representing land, sea, and other objects. These maps are challenging to read and understand, requiring proper training to comprehend the plans.

The sea plans are not for tom, dick, and harry. Only trained personnel can read these maps, which is why these maps are not easily available. Another reason the map is not easily available is that the sea level and area are changing drastically due to global warming and climatic changes.

You can get sea maps on request from NOAA’s coast office or;

  • NOAA-certified agents.
  • ● NOAA PDF charts. These charts are available on the NOAA website. They are a digital form of traditional paper maps. They are updated till the date you download them.

NOAA is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It is a US-based organization that helps with gaining knowledge about weather forecasts, monitors oceanic activities, etc. They have near-accurate information on all these matters and are reliable for sea charts.

Google maps are also available for the sea. But these maps need to be more accurate and work while you ride in the ocean. You must download the maps or get a paper version from the NOAA to be on the safe side and ensure that you have accurate knowledge.

Sea Maps

Why are Sea Maps necessary?

In the world of traveling and voyaging for both; business as well as pleasure, modes of transportation have improved a lot. One might travel to their desired destinations through a water route; there are multiple options available, ranging from a yacht to big cruise ships that can hold as many as thousands of people, mimicking a city on the sea.

Sea maps or nautical charts make sure that the voyagers are not lost in their trip toward their destination. The charts and maps have also advanced with time, and the modes of transportation are becoming more developed and advanced. It means that the maps are clearer about navigation and guidance.

The captain of your cruise is also following a sea map that was designed by a voyager with little to no idea of where they were headed, but look how their hard work is making traveling easy for all of us!
To navigate the vessel of your choice in the most accurate way possible, it is necessary to keep the right tool handy, that tool on a sea voyage is a nautical chart. It is also important to gain a basic understanding of reading a sea map or have someone who has this crucial knowledge.

The importance of a nautical chart is great and obvious on sea routes, this includes local coast to island mapping as well as leading to international waters. It is vital to know the boundaries at the sea as there will be no signs indicating entrance in international waters or the waters of a different country. To evade illegal entrance and cause mayhem, it is important to follow your sea map to the t.

Why a Map?

In the era of the internet and carrying everything in the one device that can fit right into your palm, why do you need a paper-chart map? Maps that have been made in early centuries and preserved till date or old maps have great importance not only for following a safe route to your destination but also as a treasure to cherish.

You can have maps on your phone or devices like; Google maps, etc., but these application based maps mostly need an internet connection to work, or even if downloaded these maps may not be accurate to the location. The applications use estimations sent to them by the satellites to make the charts or guide people through the GPS. In the sea, this is not a reliable way.

The online or GPS based navigation is a good way to find your way on the road, it is tricky and dangerous to rely on such maps while going on the waters. Only depend on what you know is safe and correct to the maximum possible range.


Nautical maps are difficult to make and read. It is better to get full knowledge of the sea and become a mariner if you want to spend more time on the sea on your own. As interesting and thrilling as a boat ride can be, it is equally dangerous to go in the waters without proper guidance and understanding.

Once you know how to read a sea map, nothing will stop you from your exciting voyages on the sea. You can cross borders, enter new countries, explore new islands, and discover the still unknown areas to the human race, all based on these charts.


Q1: Why are Nautical maps important?

A1: Nautical charts are important to help travelers on the waters. These charts are useful for navigating and giving an idea of water depths, dangers lying ahead, etc.

Q2: Can I use Google maps at sea?

A2: No. Even if you get the network where you are, the probability of having accurate information on the maps is very low. To be on te safe side, it is important to either download a reliable map or carry a paper map.

Q3: Do the sea maps stay the same for a longer time?

A3: No. The sea charts have to be updated often. The reason behind this is the water level is rising due to a higher volume of rain, floods, snowfall, and glaciers melting each year. Many other reasons also contribute to a constantly changing ratio of water to land. So the charts also need to be updated.

Q4: Can the sea maps be used for fishing?

A4: Yes. The sea maps are designed and show the navigation of the sea in general. If you know the area well and understand which area holds the kind of fish or water creatures you are aiming for, the maps can come in handy.

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