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MassGIS Data: NOAA Navigational Charts

August 2008

These images are digital raster versions of NOAA navigational charts.

Table of Contents


Download these images (MrSID format):

From the table below
ArcGIS 9.0/9.1 layer files (see README in zip)
Download the index layer (Shapefile)


NOAA nautical charts are a graphic representation of a maritime area and adjacent coastal regions. Depending on the scale of the chart, it may show depths of water and heights of land (topographic map), natural features of the seabed, details of the coastline, navigational hazards, locations man-made aids to navigation, information on tides and currents, local details of the Earth's magnetic field, and man-made structures such as harbors, buildings and bridges.

In the United States, all official nautical paper charts produced by NOAA's Office of Coast Survey (OCS) are available in raster format. A fundamental tool of marine navigation, NOAA's Raster Navigational Charts (NOAA RNCs) are produced by scanning at high resolution the original color separates, which are used to print the paper charts. NOAA adds to the digital raster file such features as data describing the chart, its datum, projection, and its geo-reference. Geo-referencing enables a computer-based navigation system that is connected to a GPS to locate and display on the chart image on screen the vessel's exact position.

DISCLAIMER: It is important to note that these images alone should not be used for navigational purposes. Because of potential updates and limitations on scale, the NOAA Raster Navigational Chart data distributed by MassGIS should be used primarily as a backdrop display, for plotting vector data, and for interpretation and analysis. Mariners should always consult Coast Pilot and local port authorities and harbormasters and check water and weather conditions. MassGIS, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs do not assume responsibility for the improper use of these data.

In ArcSDE the 68 chart images are named NOAA_<chart #>_<quantity>, in the NOAA schema. The "chart #" is the five-digit number assigned by NOAA. Following the chart number and an underscore character is a number indicating the quantity of images produced from each RNC (some maps have one or more insets and/or sections of the main map, and each is included as its own image). Two additional images, with a "_TC" suffix, are not charts but digital versions of tide charts and other textual information for the small craft operator.

A vector index layer was created from the footprints of each image in ArcGIS. This layer, named NOAA_INDEX_POLY in the NOAA schema in ArcSDE, may be used to reference the location of each chart.

Please note that the August 2008 release of these images replaces the older, less spatially accurate images produced by MassGIS by scanning paper copies of NOAA Nautical Charts.


MassGIS received the images from NOAA, via the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management. MassGIS imported the rasters into its ArcSDE database and projected each to the NAD83 Mass. State Plane Mainland Meters coordinate system. The images are otherwise unchanged. Learn about the RNCs. Note that the new images include the "collars" -- the borders and other non-data areas (text, etc.) that appear on each chart. In the previous set MassGIS had clipped off the collars, which on the new images will obscure parts of adjacent or overlapping charts. See the "Displaying the Images" section below for more details.

To produce the index layer, the ArcGIS Raster to Polygon tool was used to create a polygon representing the outline of each chart image. All the polygons were then merged into a single polygon feature class. 

The following table lists the image number, chart title and original paper map scale and edition date (last updated by NOAA) for all the images in this layer. Click on an Image No. link to download a zipped MrSID image file.

Image No. Chart Title Scale Edition Date
13006_1 West Quoddy Head To New York 675000 5/1/2007
13009_1 Gulf Of Maine And Georges Bank 500000 5/1/2007
13200_1 Georges Bank And Nantucket Shoals 400000 5/1/2007
13203_1 Georges Bank Western Part 220000 8/14/1999
13204_1 Georges Bank Eastern Part 220000 8/14/1999
13218_1 Martha's Vineyard to Block Island 80000 2/16/2008
13221_1 Narragansett Bay 50000 6/17/2006
13221_2_tc Additional information (tide charts, etc.) for the small craft operator -- 6/17/2006
13224_1 Providence River and Head of Narragansett Bay 20000 11/1/2006
13224_2 Seekonk River, Cold Spring Point to Pawtucket 20000 11/1/2006
13226_1 Mount Hope Bay 20000 1/1/2004
13226_2 Continuation of Taunton River 20000 1/1/2004
13227_1 Fall River Harbor 10000 3/1/2006
13227_2 State Pier 2500 3/1/2006
13228_1 Westport River And Approaches 20000 5/17/1997
13229_1 South Coast of Cape Cod and Buzzards Bay (Barnstable-Chatham) 40000 12/18/2004
13229_3 South Coast of Cape Cod and Buzzards Bay (Inset-Hyannis Harbor) 20000 12/18/2004
13229_4 South Coast of Cape Cod and Buzzards Bay (Gosnold-Barnstable) 40000 12/18/2004
13229_6 South Coast of Cape Cod and Buzzards Bay (Inset-Woods Hole) 5000 12/18/2004
13229_7 South Coast of Cape Cod and Buzzards Bay (Inset-Robinsons Hole) 12000 12/18/2004
13229_8 South Coast of Cape Cod and Buzzards Bay (Inset-Cuttyhunk Harbor) 12000 12/18/2004
13229_9 South Coast of Cape Cod and Buzzards Bay (Gosnold) 40000 12/18/2004
13229_10 South Coast of Cape Cod and Buzzards Bay (Dartmouth-Falmouth) 40000 12/18/2004
13229_11 South Coast of Cape Cod and Buzzards Bay (N Buzz Bay) 40000 12/18/2004
13229_12 South Coast of Cape Cod and Buzzards Bay (New Bedford Harbor) 20000 12/18/2004
13229_13 South Coast of Cape Cod and Buzzards Bay (Cape Cod Canal) 40000 12/18/2004
13229_14 South Coast of Cape Cod and Buzzards Bay (Inset-Prince Cove)   12/18/2004
13229_15_tc Tide prediction chart --   12/18/2004
13230_1 Buzzards Bay 40000 10/1/2005
13230_2 Quicks Hole 20000 10/1/2005
13232_1 New Bedford Harbor and Approaches 20000 6/30/2001
13232_2 Continuation of Apponagansett Bay 20000 6/30/2001
13233_1 Marthas Vineyard 40000 9/1/2005
13233_2 Menemsha Pond 20000 9/1/2005
13235_1 Woods Hole 5000 4/1/2004
13236_1 Cape Cod Channel And Approaches 20000 3/1/2006
13236_2 Cape Cod Channel And Approaches 20000 3/1/2006
13237_1 Nantucket Sound And Approaches 80000 3/1/2007
13238_1 Marthas Vineyard - Eastern Part 20000 8/1/2007
13238_2 Oak Bluffs Harbor 10000 8/1/2007
13238_4 Edgartown Harbor 10000 8/1/2007
13241_1 Nantucket Island 40000 11/1/2005
13242_1 Nantucket Harbor 10000 5/26/2001
13244_1 Eastern Entrance To Nantucket Sound 40000 7/1/2005
13246_1 Cape Cod Bay 80000 12/1/2006
13248_1 Chatham Harbor And Pleasant Bay 20000 3/17/2001
13249_1 Provincetown Harbor 20000 4/1/2007
13250_1 Wellfleet Harbor 40000 10/13/2001
13251_1 Barnstable Harbor 20000 9/1/2004
13253_1 Harbors of Plymouth, Kingston And Duxbury 20000 7/1/2005
13260_1 Bay Of Fundy To Cape Cod 378838 7/1/2005
13267_1 Massachusetts Bay 80000 7/1/2005
13267_2 North River 20000 7/1/2005
13269_1 Cohasset And Scituate Harbors 10000 2/1/2006
13270_1 Boston Harbor 25000 6/1/2006
13272_1 Boston Inner Harbor 10000 10/1/2004
13272_2 Mystic River Extension 10000 10/1/2004
13274_1 Portsmouth Harbor to Boston Harbor (Hampton-Rockport) 40000 6/1/2007
13274_2 Portsmouth Harbor to Boston Harbor (NH coast) 40000 6/1/2007
13274_3 Merrimack River Extension 80000 6/1/2007
13274_4 Merrimack River Extension 80000 6/1/2007
13274_5 Portsmouth Harbor to Boston Harbor (Rockport-Boston) 40000 6/1/2007
13275_1 Salem and Lynn Harbors 25000 6/23/2006
13275_2 Manchester Harbor 10000 6/23/2006
13276_1 Salem, Marblehead and Beverly Harbors 10000 7/1/2003
13278_1 Portsmouth To Cape Ann 80000 6/1/2005
13278_2 Hampton Harbor 30000 6/1/2005
13279_1 Ipswich Bay To Gloucester Harbor 20000 2/1/2007
13281_1 Gloucester Harbor And Annisquam River 10000 2/1/2007
13282_1 Newburyport Harbor and Plum Island Sound 20000 4/1/2003


From the NOAA RNC User Agreement:
Limitations on Use: NOAA RNCs™ may be redistributed, but redistributed NOAA RNCs™ are NOT considered official NOAA RNCs™, and do not meet federal chart carriage regulations for regulated vessels. This official status attends only to the original downloaded files. At a future date, NOAA intends to establish a program under which distributors may be certified to redistribute NOAA RNCs™ such that they will retain their official status and meet chart carriage regulations.

Displaying the images

As noted above, because these images include the map collars, displaying adjacent or overlapping charts will not be seamless. With the geodatabase version in ArcMap, choosing to display "nodata" and Color Index value 1 (white) as 'No Color' will minimize the effect of the collars. In the MrSID files,black "nodata" areas appear around the edges; displaying "nodata" as 'No Color' will partially minimize these areas. Also, some ArcMap users may want to choose to resample during display using Bilinear Interpolation for a smoother, more readable appearance (set this in the image layer's properties Display tab). The layer files available for download include the bilinear resampling and layer titles as listed in the table above.

Additional References

When using these NOAA Chart images, it may be helpful to refer to NOAA's "Office of Coast Survey" site, which contains a multitude of links, including user manuals, map symbol descriptions and more.

MassGIS does not sell or distribute paper copies of the NOAA Nautical charts. NOAA offers on-demand printed paper charts. Such maps also may be viewed at some major libraries.

For charts on the web, see NOAA's On-Line Chart Locator.

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