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Protecting chart portfolios from wear and tear

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What is the issue?
The optimal way to store charts is in a well-protected chart table. This allows them to be stored flat, or folded depending on the size, in an organised way that allows for easy retrieval. However, when there is a large number of charts or chart portfolios involved, and/or they need to be moved from boat to boat, this becomes impractical.

Why address this?
Charts are an expensive resource and represent important papers. A good method to safely store portfolios that guards against unnecessary folds, creases, bends, tears and fully protects them from water and other elements when moving from boat to boat, will help the expensive investment provide years of service.

How to address this?
A good means of safely storing large portfolios of charts without adding any unnecessary creases is to roll and store them in chart tubes. If the charts can be stowed in a dry and benign area, cardboard tubes would suffice. However, cardboard offers no moisture protection and is easily crushed if something heavy is laid on them in the storage area.

When it comes to more durable storage requirements and moving charts about, it is best to store them in plastic tubes. Low cost specially designed chart tubes are readily available for rolling charts, from 24 inches to 47 inches, into solid compact and sometimes telescopic containers. These containers are moisture proof making it easy to move portfolios from boat to boat.

But as the pictures above and below show, a very effective chart storage system can be readily made by buying standard 110mm drainage pipe and associated moulded end caps (also called socket plugs) and making them into a chart storage cylinder(s). Charts stored in these have the best of protection and as the pipes are virtually crush-proof the portfolios can be stored in the bottoms of internal lockers.

Chart portfolios stored in adapted 110mm drainage pipes
Photo: Michael Harpur

Although rolling charts and stowing them in tubes is the best way to maintain them it has some awkward aspects. All the charts have to be removed from a tube in order to get to a specific chart, making them slightly more difficult to use on the fly. This means some labelling of the tube is desirable, and particularly so if there are multiple tubes, and also some numbering in the top corner of the charts will be helpful, as seen in the photographs.

Charts stowed in a tube also tend to be difficult to keep flat when laid out on the chart table. The best way to deal with this is to place them inside a chart-cover when in use. This not only keeps the chart safe from weather damage but temporary navigation markings can be made on the plastic cover which will keep the chart in the same condition as the day it was purchased. For those who want an ultra long life cycle, it is also possible to laminate the charts as with the charts in the illustrated portfolio.

With thanks to:
Burke Corbett and Michael Harpur.
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