Useful Boating Links
Capt. Bill's Links
Nautical Charts - Free US nautical charts from NOAA. Available as raster charts (RNC) and vector electronic charts (ENC) for use with charting software. Also as downloadable pdf's. Paper copies are available from chart agents.
OpenCPN - Free chartplotter and navigation software. Can be used on PC or Mac's. Useful for planning at your desk, or using underway in conjunction with a USB GPS puck. This program works with the free NOAA RNC and ENC charts. Tide and current information can also be accessed for reference stations within a charted area.
United States Coast Pilot - Published in 9 Volumes, the Coast Pilot contains detailed information about channel descriptions, bridges, currents, dangers, routes, etc. for the US coast. Coast Pilot 4 covers the east coast from Cape Henry VA, to Key West Fl. Coast Pilot 5 covers the Gulf side, from Key West to the Rio Grand, including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
US Aids To Navigation System booklet. A nifty little booklet explaining the basics of navigation markers (ATONs) in US waters, along with some basic right away and safety information. A free paper copy can also be obtained from members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary.
Local Notice to Mariners. Published weekly by the US Coast Guard for each "District", this provides the latest updates of missing, damaged, and moved ATONs. Also reported shoaling, dredge operations, restricted areas, and other information effecting navigation in the covered area that changes in between chart publication dates. For Florida waters, we are in District 7.
Tide and Currents
The WWW Tide/Current Predictions from the University of South Carolina is my favorite site for online tide predictions. Not only an exhaustive list of locations for tide predictions, but the tide predictions can be displayed and printed in a number of useful formats, including a monthly calender. Current predictions are also available on this site, however, the selection of prediction sites is somewhat limited.
NOAA's Tide and Current Predictions. An exhaustive list of tide and current predictions. This is the best source of online current prediction date. From this site, a substantial amount of both historical data and educational material can be sourced.
Naval Research Laboratory Ocean Modeling. Real time 1/12° Global HYCOM Nowcast/Forecast System providing Sea Surface Temperature, Current Speeds, Sea Surface Heights and Sea Surface Salinity images. Covering the worlds oceans, these are available as one day snapshots, last 30 day animated gifs, last 12 month gifs and a yearly movies. Below is the speed current gif for the Gulf of Mexico.