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Marine Nautical Charts and the Canadian Tide and current Tables

Marine Charts

Charts are graphic representations depicting areas of water, depicting the depths, underwater hazards, traffic routes, aids to navigation and adjacent coastal areas. These publications are intended to help boaters to better navigate. They are issued by the Canadian Hydrographic Service. They are used as navigational aids. Boaters should always have on board an up-to-date nautical charts and related documents like a Tide and current tables.

Using nautical charts

An open body of water may seem spacious and accommodating, but remember there are no defined pathways for travelling on water. In fact, it is the absence of defined pathways, as well as signage to clearly tell us where we are, that makes navigation difficult. Operators should know:

  • How to use a compass along with marine charts
  • How to plot a course
  • Positioning methods
  • How to use electronic navigation equipment
  • Navigational references such as tide tables; the Canadian buoyage system, navigation lights and signals, Notices to Mariners, and Sailing Directions

Small boats should avoid potential danger and steer clear of rapids, currents and commercial shipping channels.

The Canadian Coast Guard publishes monthly Notices to Mariners that have important information and amendments to marine charts and publications. These notices are free and can be obtained at Notice to Mariners. Obtain as much information as possible about the area you will be navigating before you go.

The Canadian Hydrographic Service is the top source for information on nautical charts, tide and current tables, Sailing Directions, the Canadian Aids to Navigation System, Radio Aids to Marine Navigation, the List of Lights and Buoys and Fog Signals. Visit the Canadian Hydrographic Service for more information.

Tide and current tables  

This document provides information about times of tides, direction of the water flow, heights of high and low waters, and the hourly water levels for over seven hundred stations in Canada.

It is also possible to obtain water level observations.

The Current Tables provide predicted times for slack water and the times and velocities of maximum current, all of which are associated with the horizontal movement of the tide.

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