A report detailing the sale by a ship chandler of charts which had been superseded.
What the Reporter told us:
As a yachtsman who uses waterproof charts, I have become aware of ship chandlers selling out of date charts. At two marina chandleries in xx today, I discovered they were both selling an out of date chart some three years old, when the current chart is dated November 2017. This has happened time and time again with these chandleries with several different charts. I have spoken many times about this to the chandleries concerned and to the chart company. The chart company says that they inform chandlers of new chart issues and take back old stock so that the chandleries do not lose money. Apart from the consumer law considerations of selling out of date stock, there is the important maritime safety aspect of people buying what they think is a ‘new’ chart when in fact the chart information is not current.
Having discussed the report with the reporter the following is a précis of the dialogue with CHIRP;
There is no point in contacting the chandlers, I’ve tried it and the chart company has tried it. Occasionally there is a vague response from the chandlers, but the situation soon slips back to what it was before. To be fair to the chart company they are as concerned as I am, perhaps even more so because their good name is associated with this bad practice over which they have little or no control. The chart company advised me that they inform their outlets of new charts and encourage the outlets to send back the old stock of charts for a refund. Short of visiting each outlet and physically confiscating the old stock, there isn’t much more they can do, although a stern letter from the head of the chart company to the heads of all outlets (I’m sure that the two chandlers I have encountered aren’t the only ones) might have some effect.
Every so often, the chart company publishes corrections for each of its charts – this is done via the chart company website. They also have a printing history list of current charts. The chart company only issue corrections for current charts, so it is not possible to keep an old chart up to date, (otherwise nobody would buy a new one!).
Before retirement I was an airline pilot and am crucially aware of the perils of using out of date charts and almanacs – at sea and in the air the practice can kill. I am probably a bit of a geek (but hopefully not alone) in buying only what I know to be the current charts and then applying the corrections. However, there are other users, whilst not being deliberately foolhardy, who assume that buying a chart from a chandler will automatically ensure that they are getting the most up to date version. In the case of the two chandlers I mentioned and the out of date chart in question, the issue on sale was the May 2015 version, (and now not correctable), whereas the current one is November 2017. I was offered the older version in May 2018, so chandlers had plenty of time to withdraw the old stock and order the new.
Unless sailors (leisure, fishing and small commercial) actually check online to confirm the validity of what they are buying, they are erroneously trusting the chandlers to do the right thing and sell them the latest edition. Caveat emptor should not apply to safety. Are chart purchasers all aware of the availability of corrections?
The Maritime Advisory Board agreed with the sentiments of the reporter and noted that the obvious lesson to be learned from the report is to ensure that when purchasing electronic or paper charts, that they are indeed the latest edition. The vast majority of chart suppliers have websites where the latest editions and corrections of their products can be checked.
The Board also noted that counterfeit charts and counterfeit software have become increasingly prevalent. The following link, although only applicable to British Admiralty charts, may be helpful in raising awareness of the issue.