WASHINGTON (AP) - The federal government is going into uncharted waters, deep-sixing the giant paper nautical charts that it has been printing for mariners for more than 150 years.It's a testament to the power and cheapness of electronics that even small boats like mine have GPS and navigational systems that the British would have conquered the world to obtain 200 years ago.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Tuesday that to save money, the government will stop turning out the traditional brownish, heavy paper maps after mid-April.
The agency will still chart the water for rocks, shipwrecks and other hazards, but sailors, boaters and fishermen will have to use private on-demand printing, PDFs or electronic maps to see the information, said Capt. Shep Smith, head of NOAA's marine chart division.
Save your old nautical charts to sell to curio shops.
Nowadays, most people instead use the on-demand maps printed by private shops, which are more up-to-date and accurate, Smith said.
Still, NOAA sells about 60,000 of the old 4-by-3-foot lithographic maps each year for about $20 apiece, the same amount it costs to print them.
Just found this via the link to Smitty at The Other McCain. I'm shocked I'd never heard it before, and since it's marginally relevant, I thought I'd share: