Navigation and Chart work - Nautical Chart Makes

You will need RYA Training Charts 3 and 4 and the Training Almanac.


Lay your charts out on a flat surface.

Both of these charts are practice charts, they must never be used for navigation! As you can see they are not copies of real Admiralty charts, but they have been created to make them more useful for training. You may recognise some of the real harbours that they have been created from.

Admiralty charts are probably the most commonly used charts in Britain. There are other makes, which are made specifically for yachtsmen. They are normally perfectly adequate because they are based on the same surveys as the Admiralty charts; the manufacturers have usually just left off unnecessary detail. Especially, in an area with which the yachtsman is familiar this is not a disadvantage.

The UK Admiralty website now have an online chart catalogue.

Buy your Admiralty Charts

Two of the manufacturers are Stanfords and Imray Charts, who produce a range of charts that cover the popular yachting areas of Britain, the Continent and some other parts of the World.

Advantages of Stanfords' charts are that they are waterproof, tear resistant and many incorporate several harbour plans on one chart. This alone can save a considerable amount of money.

The recently introduced Tough Charts from the Admiralty are designed for use in a wet enviroment and are ideal for use in small yachts, dinghies or RIBs. If you have access to a full sized chart table you will find larger charts easier to use but in exposed conditions Tough Charts are very useful. Some years ago two of us paddled kayaks across the English Channel, and our only charts were chopped up Admiralty charts that we had laminated on to the decks, this type of chart (and GPS) will make this type of trip much easier in the future!

One advantage of Admiralty charts is that they are available world wide, which means that wherever you sail, you will not have to become familiar with other types of chart.

The choice of chart type is up to the individual, at the end of the day, once you are familiar with charts is makes little difference.

Most countries issue their own charts; many are very similar, with the same symbols being used. Most countries also share survey information, so they should all include the same features.

If you are chartering a yacht abroad or in an area you are not familiar with, it is a good idea to do some preparation before you arrive at the boat. Instead of buying new charts which can be quite expensive just to use them for the preparation, you may be able to purchase some out of date ones that will have all the details that allow you to gain an overall picture of the area you will be visiting. Marine Chart Services sell a range of charts, from cheap cancelled ones, to full price new publications and provide a quick reliable service. I frequently use their charts for preparation prior to a trip or for teaching, but the out of date ones should never be relied upon for real navigation.


Charts can be ordered from Admiralty chart agents. All agents have a catalogue, which lists every chart and publication. By looking through this you can identify those you will need for a particular passage.

The Admiralty also issue a leaflet. NW Europe Catalogue, one of which is often issued with the popular yachting magazines. These include charts for the waters around the British Isles.

The website of has an excellent planning tool for finding the charts you need for any passage. If you click on the map, in the area that you are interested in, you will be able to see the area that each chart covers and the chart number so that you can order them.

The blue boxes are the areas covered by each chart, with the number of the chart printed in the bottom left and top right corner. This number is how you normally identify a chart. In addition to this number, charts also have a title which identifies the general area of coverage.

The two training charts used on RYA theory courses are just numbered RYA Training Charts 3 and 4.

Another place you will find details of the charts you may need is on other charts. On Chart 3 look at the entrance of the Port Fraser (46°25'N 06°00'W), there is a magenta box with the number RYA4D in the corners. This is the number of the chart that covers that area, if you look at chart 4, you will find one of the chartlets is given the letter "D" to identify it. Another source of this information is Nautical Almanacs such as Reeds Almanac. At the top left on page 52 in your Training Almanac you will find the numbers of the charts for Port Fraser, RYA Charts 3 nd 4.

In the real almanac the abbreviation AC is for Admiralty Charts, Imray's and Stamford's are Yachtsmen's charts and OS is the Ordinance Survey map for the land area.

Occasionally the next chart along is referred to on the edges of the chart you are working on.

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