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How to Sail Into a Harbor with “Chart Insets”

Imagine that you plan to sail to a new anchorage in a cove to the north. You’ve pulled the coastal chart that shows the approach, but you are unable to locate a large scale chart.

And without better detail, the entry could prove to be a tough challenge indeed. Take a look at one of the unique “two for one” benefits you can receive on some nautical charts.

It’s best to start a passage plan with a smaller scale chart that encompasses the sailing area and approaches. Here we have a chart off the south coast of Alaska.

Our intentions are to anchor (or tie up if anchorages are not available) in Village Cove on the south side. We have looked in our chart catalog for a larger scale chart that gives details on the shoals, aids to navigation and general topography of the cove. But, none exists.

Look just inside the area of Village Cove and you can see the chart note that says “See Inset”. Some chart makers save lots of time and money when they insert large scale chartlets onto the smaller scale chart.

And sailors save money because there will be no purchase a separate larger scale chart for entering a tight harbor or anchorage. Of course, this will not always be the case. But insets are a big benefit to “grab ‘n hold” if you find these on any nautical chart.

Once you see a note that indicates an inset exists, look to the chart corners. Here, the inset has been embedded into the lower right corner. Now let’s use this inset to plan a safe entry into Village Cove that will serve us by day or by night.

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