Chris Riley by Chris Riley Updated on August 13, 2019. In nauticalknowhow

According to the The National Ocean Service :

“The National Ocean Service’s (NOS) MapFinder is a one-stop World Wide Web service that provides direct Internet access to primary NOS imagery and data holdings for coastal photography, nautical charts, coastal survey maps, environmental sensitivity index maps, hydrographic surveys, water level stations, and geodetic control points. NOS MapFinder provides a spatial index that allows users to identify specific NOS products. Many of these are on-line as directly usable products, or as previews of higher quality products that can be ordered from NOS.”

The link to NOAA Charts Online will take you directly to the Mapfinder Region Section and the page will look like the following. (Note that you can also select an Island Area to find charts in such areas as the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.)



Region Selection Screen

HelpMapFinder Home Page

Click Study Area on the US Maps OR
Select an Island



noaamap.gif (8581 bytes)


The first thing you need to do is to click on the area in which you have an interest in finding a chart. Since the trip you are taking is to South Central Florida, you will click inside the box covering that area. (We have added the arrow to show where we clicked.)

Once you have selected the correct general area, you will be presented with a “zoomed” version of the map that will include the area you are looking for. You now will see the following map representation.


Navigation Screen Help MapFinder Home Page Region Selection Page
Navigation  Zoom In Zoom Out Pan Redraw Map Find Data (Radius nm)



Themes (help)

Nautical Charts

Search Criteria

Year: From to *

Scale: From



Display online products ONLY

Current Map

Map Width = 169.6 nm
Latitude and Longitude Covered


-83.08 -70.39



Please note that this is only a representation of what you will actually see. You will have choices of charts other than nautical charts, you can search on charts by years, you can search on specific chart scales, and you can find charts within a range of nautical miles from the area selected. Check the box next to Nautical Charts, click the map, and each of the red squares on the map will represent an available NOAA chart. All you have to do is click on the chart area you want and you will get a list of charts within the Radius you selected. Note the different sizes of the squares, this is because some charts are large scale and some are small scale.

Let’s assume that you already have charts to make your way up the Coast, however, you are going to need a chart of the St. Lucie Inlet and Manatee Pocket where you will be keeping your new boat. You could zoom in, but since I know where it is, I’ll assist you by clicking on the appropriate place. Once you have clicked the map finder, you get a page similar to the one below.


Results Page Help MapFinder Home Page Region Selection Page


= View or Save Product = Order Product
= Identify Product on Map = Sample Data (Image or Text)


Nautical Charts (16 total records)




Chart No. 11428_3 Date 1995-06-17 Scale 25000 Title ST LUCIE INLET
Edition 29

11472_3 1995-08-05 25000 ST LUCIE INLET


Note the options you have for viewing or saving, ordering, identifying the product on the map or sampling data. Also note the circle which identifies the 20 mile radius you choose on the prior page. This search turned up a total of 16 chart records within that 20 mile radius. You can now choose the record that you need. Since we are going to be traversing the St. Lucie Inlet we will look at both charts in order to see which we need.

All you need to do is click on the icon to view the chart you want. Let’s say you want to look at ST LUCIE INLET (INSET 4) CHART. Click on the associated and the chart representation below is shown. (You can save the graphic to your hard drive by right-clicking it.)

Note the warning that this is a sample and not to be used for navigation. Actually, it is a thumbnail of the entire chart. Both of the charts listed above are necessary to navigate the St. Lucie Inlet and enter the Manatee Pocket. So you decide to order both.

You notice in the table of charts returned above that the date on both these charts is 1995. What if something has changed since then, how can you find information to update your charts? 

(By the way, I know first-hand that in this area there has been much dredging activity in the last few years and some markers shown on the charts have been moved.)




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