Best Cruising Guides?

A good cruising guide can be absolutely invaluable.  We always find that the detail of a cruising guide can make the difference if we’re brave enough to go into a new unexplored anchorage, or just sail on by.   Since we’ve never been to the Bahamas, we’re trying to decipher the maze of 56 entries for cruising guide bahamas on Amazon.  Before we talk about picking our Bahamas guide, here’s our top two all time favorite cruising guides and why.

By FAR, the best cruising guide we’ve used by far is Eric Bauhaus’ “The Panama Cruising Guide” 4th Ed. — here’s an excerpt from the book description:

“includes 288 full-color pages with aerial and satellite photography of all popular anchorages, as well as color chartlets with a latitude and longitude grid.  Tried and tested GPS waypoints, aerial photos, piloting instructions, mileage charts and illustrative photography showing the spectacular beauty of this cruising ground will let you sail with the sense of a déjà vú.Other features of this easy to use book include: land transportation, local etiquette, fishing, provisioning, Kuna language dictionary, etc… In short, everything the cruising sailor needs to feel safe and totally informed.

Bauhaus Panama Guide, 4th Ed.

Bauhaus Panama Guide, 4th Ed.

What makes this cruising guide our favorite?  The high tech approach he uses with google earth shots of the anchorages and approaches overlaid with lat/long — accurate lat/long, I might add.  Some cruising guides don’t have particularly accurate lat/long waypoints, in fact the first cruising guide we used out of the country, was Freya Rauscher’s “Cruising Guide to Belize and Mexico’s Caribbean Coast, Including the Rio Dulce, Guatemala” — the 1996 edition had some issues with waypoints not being accurate, but it was still a great cruising guide, all the bearings and other information was accurate and once we knew not to take the waypoints as gospel, it became our 2nd favorite cruising guide of all time!

So now that we have the Explorer charts,  it’s time to figure out what cruising guide for the Exumas/Bahamas.  After sifting through the 56 entries on Amazon (several are older versions of an updated guide), talking to cruisers who’ve spent time in the Bahamas and research online, we’ve decided upon the Steve Pavlidis’ “The Exuma Guide:  A Cruising Guide to the Exuma Cays: Approaches, Routes, Anchorages, Dive Sights, Flora, Fauna, History, and the Lore of the Exuma Cays”.   We’ve seen Pavlidis’ cruising guides before and quite honestly, felt they didn’t measure up to the Panama Bauhaus guides or even the Freya Rauscher Belize guides, but everyone seems to think that for the Bahamas, Pavlidis’ guides are the best.  So we’ll see.  We’ll update this post when we receive the guide and let you know what we think.  UPDATE:  The Exuma Cruising Guide arrived and so far we’re very pleased.  Pavlidis is now using google earth photos overlaid with cruising info such as approaches to anchorages marked.  Also, one thing we did not like about the Panama Guide was we could never find a smaller scale (i.e. covering a broader area) so that we could understand islands relationships to each other – they were there, we just found them difficult to locate.  The Exuma Guide has a chapter at the front of the cruising chapters showing three different segments of the Exumas and how they all fit together – a simple thing, but so handy when planning before you’ve been there and know the lay of the islands.   Nothing replaces actually using the guide while cruising the area, but so far we’re happy with the Exuma cruising guide.  And the Explorer Charts have lots of information that normal charts wouldn’t have such as more anchorage information – and the very helpful “Need To Know Info” sections across from each cruising area chart.

Freya Rauscher's Belize Cruising Guide, 1996 - NOT THIS ONE!  Get the 2007 Edition!

Freya Rauscher's Belize Cruising Guide, 1996 - NOT THIS ONE! Get the 2007 Edition!

We already own Steve Dodge’s “Cruising Guide to Abaco”, although there is a 2010 edition, since we’re not planning to spend much time in Abaco this winter, we’ll stick with the older version and the Explorer Charts.  We also own Matthew Wilson’s Bahamas Cruising Guide — quite honestly, we were very disappointed with this one when we bought it back in 1998.  But I see there are several newer versions, so maybe they are better than the 1998 edition.

Comments

  1. I am the author of the Exuma Guide and I thank you for your kind words. However I would like to point out that we do NOT use Google Earth photos. We use aerial photos courtesy of Capt. Paul Harding of Safari Seaplanes in Nassau.

    • Stephen — we met when you were working on the Bay Islands Cruising Guide while at Mario’s in the Rio. During one of the seminars at Mario’s you gave us all copies of a DVD of the preview version — which was very helpful. Sorry for the inaccuracy in my Exumas Guides post, the aerial photography was spot on! THANK YOU! We’re thinking of heading south and looking at your Turks & Caicos and Puerto Rico guides now! Are you still in the Rio? If so, ENJOY – we miss it!

  2. How did you find that the guides held up? I’m in the process now of looking at a few different guides and it is most certainly overwhelming!

    Thanks.

    • Hi Kelley! Where specifically are you looking at for cruising guides? It seems every place we’ve been is different. Let me know & I’ll see if I can add more info. P.S. Love your blog! Cheers! Jan

      • Hi Jan –

        I was just doing another guide search and happened upon this post again and saw your response 🙂 Thanks for the kind words about our blog! We bought Pavlidis’ guide to the Northern Bahamas and have found it rather terrible. I bought the newest edition just before we left and have found a LOT of the information to be completely out of date. A few examples, stores listed have been closed for 10+ years, zones listed as anchoring areas are moorings only and many many more. I am very disappointed in this purchase. We loved Dodge’s Abaco guide and wished he did guides for other areas as he really covers everything. Explorer Charts are also very helpful to us.

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