Features November 2016 Issue

Cruising Guides

An update on cruising resources.

Cruising Guides
Cruising the Bahamas means transiting very shallow waters. Guides can help you know when to watch out for skinny spots.

Since our last review of cruising guides for the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (“Where to Steer, Eat, Anchor on the ICW,” PS May 2014) and the Bahamas (“Top Cruising Guides for the Bahamas,” PS January 2015), we’ve come across a few more resources worth adding to the list, and one of our top-pick cruising and anchoring guides has ceased publication. Here’s the latest on cruising guides and resources.

2016 ICW Cruising Guide by Bob423

2016 ICW Cruising Guide by Bob423

As its long title suggests, the “2016 ICW Cruising Guide (A guide to safely navigating over 100 hazards on the Atlantic ICW with full color charts along with advice and tips)” focuses on assisting readers in the safe navigation of approximately 100 trouble spots along the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). While the book contains useful tips on everything from basic boat gear to prepping your house for long-term cruising, the bulk of the guide features full-page color charts for each hazard and directions for safe passage. It does not offer a comprehensive list of marinas and anchorages, but it does include some that the authors have found to be spaced conveniently for ICW travel.

The charts in the 2016 edition have been enlarged to show better detail, and the buoys now have their own labels (G3, R4, etc.) in larger type for easy reading. Each chart has a mile-marker location, along with minimum water noted through the hazard as part of the hazard title at the top of each page. The author, Robert Sherer (Bob423), explained that the published navigation information was the result of his personal experiences in traversing the area.

Bottom line: This is a handy guide for transiting ICW areas of concern. It is Recommended.

Yachtsman’s Guide to Bahamas

The original Bahamas cruising guide, the “Yachtsman’s Guide to the Bahamas” has been updated and re-printed every year since its inception in 1950. Many consider it to be the definitive Bahamas guide for both novice and seasoned skippers planning to sail their vessel from the U.S. across the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas.

The 2016 edition’s opening chapter, “What the Skipper Should Know,” details everything from anchoring and flag etiquette to communications, medical options, regulations, and even trash disposal. The “Approaches to the Bahamas” section contains seven tried-and-true courses from various ports in Florida to various islands in the Bahamas chain. The geographic sections include sketch charts, aerial and land-based photos, suggestions on approaches, and what to expect upon arrival. The listings begin at the chain’s north end and run south (the way most skippers cruise the Bahamas), making it easy to find the next port of call.

Bottom line: An easy, informative read that should be aboard every Bahamas-bound boat. This is a Best Choice.

Pavlidis Northern Bahamas Guide

Pavlidis Northern Bahamas Guide

Geared toward Bahamas-bound sailors, the extremely popular “A Cruising Guide to: The Northern Bahamas (revised edition Volume 1)” was written in 2015 by Stephen J. Pavlidis, who has authored more than 10 cruising guides, covering all of the waters from south Florida to Trinidad and Tobago, and everything in between.

Pavlidis’ guidebook contains charts, photos, and plenty of local knowledge to assist in planning a Bahamas cruise. It features full-color, aerial harbor photos; full-color charts; and hydrographic data based on Pavlidis’ personally conducted surveys. The guide also includes extensive navigational instructions and GPS waypoints, as well as information on approaches and routes, anchorages, available services, local dive sites, and the area’s history—plus extensive appendices, contact information, and more.

Bottom line: We highly recommend this popular resource—not just for its navigation and piloting guidance, but also for the anchorage and shoreside information. Another Best Choice pick.

Pavlidis Bahamas Island-Hopping Digital Guide

For those who prefer digital books, we checked out “The Island Hopping Digital Guide to: The Northern Bahamas Part I–Abaco and the Grand Bahamas,” the digital version of the Pavlidis cruising guide. It covers the Abacos and Grand Bahama, and in addition to having all the features that make the printed version so popular, the digital guide offers the added convenience of live links for email and websites of many of the marinas, services, and organizations listed in the text. Another great feature that testers really liked was that double-clicking on charts allows you to expand and zoom-in for details. The digital format also allows for uploading frequent updates to the guides. For full coverage of the northern Bahamas, sailors would need to purchase/download all four of the digital editions (Parts I-IV). Seaworthy now offers 37 digital guidebooks for areas in the Bahamas and Caribbean.

Bottom line: This digital guide offers all the great features of the print version plus the bonus features like frequent, easy updating and live links, at a fraction of the cost of the print guide—even if you buy the whole set of four guides. It’s a Best Choice among digital guidebooks.

On The Water guides

Since our ICW guidebook review, authors Capts. Mark and Diana Doyle closed their guidebook business and moved on to other pursuits. Two of their publications, “CruiseGuide for the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW): A Mile-by-Mile Cruising Guide for Norfolk, VA to Miami, FL” and “On the Water ChartGuides AnchorGuide for the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW), Volumes 1 and 2,” were among our Best Choice picks. You can read their farewell note at www.onthewaterchartguides.org.

Conclusion

Be sure to check out our past cruising guide reviews online for details on those books and resources. We still like White Sound Press’s Abacos guide (Best Choice, PS January 2015), but because no single guidebook can cover everything, the Pavlidis and Yachtsman’s guides are also Best Choice worthy. While the Doyles’ shuttering of On The Water has left a void in ICW cruising resources, in our opinion, the Doziers’ Waterway Guides website (www.waterwayguide.com) has been stepping up to fill the gap—with regard to warnings, bad spots, etc. Sherer’s book is also a handy, Recommended guide for the ICW.

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