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Today, more than 98 percent of the nation's cargo is carried by waterborne transportation, and a good deal of it is potentially hazardous. In fact, this has always been the case for the U.S. and its foreign trade. For this reason, nautical charts were developed. The sea might look fine on the surface but how is the floor configured? How deep is the water at a particular point? Is there a danger to navigation lurking just ahead?
These charts can now be used by sailors to ensure safe and economic travel by shortest and safest route. A sailing chart is a working document. It is like a road map of the sea. It will indicate the nature and form of the coast, which is absolutely essential if you have planned your own sailing trip. A good sailing chart will also show you characteristics of the Earth's magnetism that might affect your boat navigation.
Sailing charts come in a variety of forms including paper, digital and satellite images. A good sailing chart should incorporate standard symbols that, like sailing lingo, you will have to learn to apply proper boat navigation. Some charts are available online. If you buy a paper chart, get a waterproof one that is laminated. Some special organization tubes are available store multiple maps. You should also buy a chart key so that you can easily determine what you are reading on a sailing map while you are still learning all the new terminology and language of sailing.