It is more than 70 years old, a thin magenta-colored line appearing on over 50 different navigational charts covering the North American Atlantic Coast and the Gulf of Mexico, snaking along the route of the Intracoastal Waterway.
The thin magenta colored line marking the Intracoastal Waterway is like a yellow brick road for boaters transiting the East and Gulf Coasts.
Now, thanks to NOAA's Office of Coast Survey and a public-private partnership with Active Captain, an interactive cruising guidebook, NOAA will be updating the 'magenta line' on all of its newly-issued navigational charts to help keep boaters in safe waters. Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) submitted comments on the proposal to NOAA, who had initially proposed removing the line entirely. However, responding to BoatUS' and other boaters' comments, NOAA will tap into users of Active Captain to update the route in an on-going effort that will benefit the boating community.
'Some boaters had assumed the magenta line, which was last updated in 1935, was a precise route through safe waters,' said BoatUS Government Affairs Senior Program Coordinator David Kennedy. 'However, over time the forces of nature made the line inaccurate as shoals shifted and underwater topography changed, leading some boats into shallows, over dangerous obstructions, or even into land. We thank NOAA for a change of course in keeping the magenta line, listening to boaters and coming up with a creative public-private partnership that recognizes the value of this important guide to navigation.'
The magenta line appears in charts covering all Intracoastal waters, and is essentially two distinct routes along the eastern US and Gulf Coasts totaling about 3,000 miles in length. Said Captain Shep Smith, chief of NOAA's Coast Survey's Marine Chart Division, 'Today's decision to reinstate the magenta line is not a quick fix. It will take at least three years to fix problems that were 70 years in the making.'
Boaters may contribute to the updating effort by joining www.activecaptain.com!Active_Captain.