In preparation for cruising SE Asia, I went looking for a cruising guide. Surprisingly, there were not too many to choose from. Two, Southeast Asia Pilot
and Cruising Guide to SE Asis
dominated the scene. After a little indecision (the first was reviewed well by Jimmy Cornell but the second was published by Imray), I opted for the former. One of my crew picked it up for me in Thailand and brought it when he flew in. To my (and my wallet's) dismay, the cruising guide was terrible!
Not only were the anchorages few and far between, the descriptions were lacking pertinent details and proper chats. It seems that the selling point is that there are lots of photographs and full-page advertisements throughout. $60 wasted got me thinking about the quality of cruising guides. Sure, anything is better than nothing if the information is correct but, when I buy a guide, I want pertinent information presented in user-friendly manner, not big, glossy photographs and advertisements for charter boat companies (I have a boat already, that is why i need the guide!). On occasion, I have thought that a guide was not the greatest but this one has become a trivet for the salon table. Buyer beware, the press on this book is great but the substance just is not there.
The Southeast Asia Pilot
tops my list of the worst cruising guide but, not to start a completely negative thread, I thought I would point out my favorite as well. The Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego Nautical Guide
is the finest example of a cruising guide I have ever come across. Detailed and accurate hand sketches, with loads of information on each entry, presented in an easy-to-use format make it truly special. Yes, there are even pictures, though they are presented in a separate section. It is a nuts-and-bolts (yet beautifully bound hardback) that gives everything you want and nothing you don't.
I'm sure there are other disappointing guides out there, as well as other great ones, so please post if you want to warn about the drawbacks of one or praise the contents of another and maybe you will help someone avoid experiencing buyer's remorse.
p.s. Yes, it is my fault for buying a guide sight unseen, so I have no one to blame but myself