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post #2 of Old 05-21-2001
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Best Bahamas Cruising Guide?

You may be getting contradictory advice about cruising guides because of the question you''re asking, as there is NOT a ''best guide'' IMO. In fact, we''ve yet to find a ''best'' anything: chart kit, ICW guide, landside guide, etc. It''s just the nature of the beast that one guide''s content is defined in part from the last guide (offer what the other one doesn''t), the varying experience levels of the authors, and publishers'' ideas about what will sell and/or is needed. FWIW, here''s our perspective on Bahamas guides...
1. Monty & Sara Lewis chart kits are highly useable by most boats (given their exclusive reliance on GPS) but also provide useful, close-to-current guide info. Don''t overlook this resource as you get nav & guide content.
2. VanZant would object to being referenced as a Bahamas Guide; he''s quite specific about only offering passage routing info in the Bahamas (and other island areas) tho'' his guide does try to serve as a guide for portions of the DR & Puerto Rico, since there''s little else out there. If your route is similar to his normal route, you''ll find his book helpful (tho'' far from exhaustive). We first cruised using his 1st edition, which was frankly loopholed & misleading. His 6th edition is a gem and far, far improved (now it''s in its 7th edition); his book is worthwhile reading for navigation, weather interpretation, and its thoughtful reflections on being from a 1st world country & cruising in developing island nations.
3. The Yachtsman''s Guide to the Bahamas suffers from the same limitations as the Doyles guides for the Caribbean, with which you may be familiar: namely, no business, island nor service is less than great. The editor''s reluctance to criticize means you must read carefully between the lines to discern the ''ok'' (or worse) from the ''worthy of your time/business/money''. In past years, the sketch charts were a highly valued part of the publication, since navigation was so visual in nature. There value today, with chart plotters & GPS waypoints, is far less under typical conditions. Still, this is probably the ''must have'' guide for any cruising thru the Bahamas.
4. Like many other parts of the (yachtie) world, having an ancillary tourist guide (e.g. Lonely Planet guides are excellent tho'' there are other good ones in any well-stocked book store) will round out your appreciation of the island nation you''re visiting, as they typically offer excellent commentary on the history, economy, government, and culture of island groups while yachtie guides can barefull spare a few paragraphs on these topics so essential to appreciating what you are experiencing.

Good luck on the passage N & W. Highly recommend Herb for your longer legs.

Jack Tyler
Visiting Pensacola but normally aboard WHOOSH, lying Port of Spain, Trinidad
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