By N. Bowditch
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Additional resources for American Practical Navigator
The chart datum of the largest scale chart of an area is generally the same as the reference level from which height of tide is tabulated in the tide tables. The chart datum is usually only an approximation of the actual mean value, because determination of the actual mean height usually requires a longer series of tidal observations than is usually available to the cartographer. In addition, the heights of the tide vary as a function of time. Since the chart datum is generally a computed mean or average height at some state of the tide, the depth of water at any particular moment may be less than shown on the chart.
On electronic charts, a variety of other color schemes may be used, according to the manufacturer of the system. Color perception studies are being used to determine the best presentation. The side limits of dredged channels are indicated by broken lines. The project depth and the date of dredging, if known, are shown by a statement in or along the channel. The possibility of silting is always present. Local authorities should be consulted for the controlling depth. NOS Charts frequently show controlling depths in a table, which is kept current by the Notice to Mariners.
The amount of its scale distortion is comparatively little if it is carried only to about 25° or 30° from the pole. Beyond this, the distortion increases rapidly. A great circle is very nearly a straight line anywhere on the chart. Distances and directions can be measured directly on the chart in the same manner as on a Lambert conformal chart. However, because this projection is not strictly conformal, and on it great circles are not exactly represented by straight lines, it is not suited for highly accurate work.