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NOAA/NGA Reference Publications

A wealth of nautical knowledge is available from the U. S. Government:

  • Chart No. 1--all the symbols, abbreviations, and terms found on nautical charts
  • Distances Between Ports--available for U. S. and international destinations
  • Navigation Rules--Includes the COLREGS.  If your vessel is more than 40' long, it's likely to be required on board
  • International Code of Signals--Documents the flags, bells, whistles, and other signaling devices you might encounter
  • Radar Navigation Manual and Maneuvering Board Manual--explains how to plot vectors for collision avoidance
  • World Port Index--a listing of ports (with lat/lon) and services worldwide
  • Chemical Data Guide--explains procedures for handing bulk shipments
  • USCG 515--documents selected regulations from CFR's 33 and 46 that relate to all non-U. S. flagged vessels from design and equipment to operating procedures while in U. S. waters.
Ordering Information
117722 Chart No. 1
Symbols used by the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), NOAA, and NGA.  Sections also show the typical layout of a U. S. chart plus examples of charted tide data.
117822 Distances Between Ports
Pub. 151.  Distances between worldwide ports over routes that afford the safest passage.  Departure Ports are listed alphabetically with distances to arrival ports listed below.
117730 Distances Between U. S. Ports
Point-to-point distance data for ports in the U. S. plus distance from Great Lakes to Canadian Ports
117765 Navigation Rules:  International - Inland
Includes International Regulations for Prevention of Collisions at Sea (COLREGS), inland navigation rules, and international rules.  Inland rules are compared side-by-side with international rules to help define their differences. 
117733 International Code of Signals
Pub. 102.  Descriptions plus photos for all signals:  visual, sound, and radio.  Focused on situations related to safety of navigation and personnel.
117755 Radar Navigation and Maneuvering Board Manual
Includes both Publications 1310 and 217.  Includes expanded chapters on ARPA, operating manual for modern commercial radar.
117830 World Port Index
Pub. 150.  Location, characteristics, know facilities, and available services of major ports, shipping facilities, and oil terminals throughout the world.
117724 Chemical Data Guide
USCG Guidelines for safe transport of bulk chemicals.  Documents characteristics of a number of chemical hazards
117828 USCG 515
Rules and Regulations for Foreign Vessels Operating in the Navigable Waters of the U. S.  Two volume set includes CD-ROM of the text.  Updates included.
Find other U. S. Government publications



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