Many early charts featured sketches of the coastline, providing a good picture of what the shore looked like from the bridge of a ship. These helped the mariner to distinguish one port from another during an approach and establish their rough position within that approach. More recent experimental 3D chart interfaces have incorporated 3D models of land topography and man-made structures to perform the same function. However, topography is typically captured from the air, by means of stereophotogrammetry or lidar and fails to present a good representation of what is seen from a vessel’s bridge. We have been conducting an investigation of ways to present photographic imagery to the mariner to better capture the utility of the early coastline sketches. Our focus has been on navigation in restricted waters, using the Piscataqua River as a test area. This is part of our “Chart-of-the-Future” project being conducted by The Data Visualization Research Lab at the UNH Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping. Through our investigation, we have developed a new method for presenting photographic imagery to the mariner, in the form of a series of panoramic images progressing down the channel. The panoramas consist of images stitched almost seamlessly together into circular arcs, whose centers are intended to be close to the position of a vessel’s bridge during transit. When viewed from this center, there is no distortion, and distortion increases to a maximum between two panorama centers. Our preliminary trials suggest that panoramas can provide an excellent supplement to electronic navigation aids by making them visible in the context of what can be seen out the window. We believe panoramas will be especially useful both in familiarizing a mariner with an unfamiliar approach during planning, and in enhancing situational awareness at times of reduced visibility such as in fog, dusk, or nightfall.


Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping

Publication Date


Journal or Conference Title

U.S. Hydrographic Conference

Conference Date

Mar 29 - Mar 31, 2005

Publisher Place

San Diego, CA, USA


Hydrographic Society of America

Document Type

Conference Proceeding