Charts versus Maps: What's the Difference?

Ask a sailor to show you a “map"“ of his favorite sailing area, and you might be asked to walk the plank! If it’s a waterway, it is called a chart, not a map. But why? What’s the difference?

Maps and charts have something in common. They show where you are and also where you want to go.

Maps will accomplish this with colored lines representing highways, toll ways, avenues, and side streets.

A little map study. Photo by    Leio McLaren (@leiomclaren)    on    Unsplash

A little map study. Photo by Leio McLaren (@leiomclaren) on Unsplash

To better understand charts, remember the scene at the very end of Back to the Future where Doc Brown tells Marty: “Roads? Where we are going we don’t need roads!”

Doc Brown’s closing sentence could be applied to charts. Charts don’t have roads because there are no roads on the ocean. So how can they help a sailor reach a destination? Charts have a wealth of information that will help navigate the way to a safe harbor. For example, is the water deep enough to keep from being grounded? The prudent sailor will note the frequent use of fathoms represented by numbers throughout the chart. Each number can be multiplied by six and that is the depth of the water at average low tide. Direction to the destination is available by compass roses. Parallel rulers can indicate a direct course to the destination, then “walking” the rulers over to the compass rose, the mariner can read either a magnetic heading or true heading to the objective. The chart will also show any hazards that should be avoided. In short, there are no roads, but you are the one who will create a path on the water.

But back to map or chart murals. We actually do both. While we have dedicated our efforts to nautical chart wallpaper, that isn’t to say that we don’t do road maps. If you have a good idea of a road map as a mural subject, then by all means, let’s talk and see if we can make it happen for you.

A Nautical Chart Chart or Map brightens any room, such as this one Massachusetts.

A Nautical Chart Chart or Map brightens any room, such as this one Massachusetts.

To begin with, if you have a road atlas, pick out the page or pages you want on your wall and either mail it to us (see our mailing address on the Contact Page, lower left corner OR scan the map on your printer / scanner at a high resolution then send it to us via wetransfer.com, a free service for sending large files. Use our “skippersteve@gmail.com” address to send your file(s).

So will it be a map or a chart? In any case contact us by phone or text: 801-367-7945. or complete your inquiry use the form on the contact page. Include your wall measurements to help us help you.

Let’s talk soon!