Admiralty Small Craft Folios have long been an affordable way for sailors to carry detailed sets of paper charts for their favourite British cruising grounds. Now the UK Hydrographic Office has announced that it plans to withdraw these packs, and replace them with digital solutions.
Many of today’s yachts are equipped with sophisticated electronic navigation systems, but it would be a foolhardy skipper who puts to sea without paper charts – if only as backup for when a storm wreaks digital havoc or the batteries bleed their last into the nav lights.
The options for sailors seeking such charts are about to become more limited, though, with the UKHO announcing its intention to discontinue its Small Craft Folio line.
A notice on the RYA website states that the proposal to “withdraw the supply and maintenance of Admiralty Small Craft Folios” is “a response to the changing requirements of users, and [in order] to increase the frequency of updates”.
The UKHO says it intends to issue replacement digital solutions, and will continue to license data to “established suppliers in the small craft market… to serve those who do not wish to operate digitally”.
The UKHO does not intend to withdraw other charts or products for sailors and mariners. Imray, which already supplies excellent folios (we can recommend them, as we use a mix of Admiralty and Imray on board Amneris), said in a tweet: “Our own Imray paper charts remain popular. We’ll continue to expand our coverage and choice of formats – paper as folded charts, atlases/folios and digital”.
Yet the Todd Chart blog notes that: “Admiralty Small Craft Folios are valued by many yachtsmen, motor boaters and workboats under 24m LOA. If they are withdrawn, there will be no A2 sized large scale chart coverage of the east coast of England north of Lowestoft, all of the Scottish coast (excluding Mull and the Firth of Clyde), the northern Irish Sea, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland”.
UKHO proposals for the withdrawal of Small Craft Folios are currently out for consultation with the sailing public. Anyone who wishes to share their views should do so before October 31 (the original deadline of October 8 has now been extended), by following this link and completing the consultation survey.
The RYA is currently considering its response to the UKHO announcement, and urges “all recreational boaters and other leisure mariners responsible for safety of life at sea, to complete the survey”.
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