Review of Explore Central America!

Boaters in first world countries enjoy many amenities that are unavailable elsewhere. One of the most important differences is the lack of official publications describing the waters. While Latin American countries do make their own, high-quality charts, these charts are unavailable to the cruising yachtsman. I, and others I know, have tried to no avail to obtain copies of these charts that are on the walls of government agencies. The cruising yacht is left to work with old US Defense Mapping Agency or British Admirality charts, neither of which were ever accurate. Neither agency has updated their charts in decades either, so the charts are only marginally suitable. This doesn’t stop chart suppliers in English speaking countries from charging top-dollar for fresh printings of this inaccurate data. Electronic charts are based solely on these inaccurate sources, so are of no further assistance.

Boaters will be accustomed to the invaluable descriptions provided by the US Coast Pilots or the Canadian Sailing Directions. In the rest of the world, the US government provides Sailing Directions. This publication is intentionally not to the standard of the guides for domestic waters. Fortunately, Sailing Directions is still being updated, so it is accurate if a bit low on detail at times.

The end result is that the navigator is far more dependent on his cruising guides in Latin American than she is in her home waters. Unfortunately the most popular cruising guides are also riddled with inaccuracies and out of date information, even in their recent editions.

Cover Picture

To the rescue comes a new generation of cruising guides, made with GPS, computers, and satellite imagery. We wholeheartedly recommend Sarana‘s two volume guide book Explore Central America!  These guides are filled with precise GPS locations plotted on satellite photographs, and depict all of the anchorages in Central America, even the ones that the authors recommend bypassing. We found and greatly enjoyed several anchorages that were listed in this guide but not in the other guides we have for the region. We also easily saved the purchase price of this guide in Diesel fuel alone by making passages with waypoints this guide provided where other guides indicated no passage was possible.

Similarly valuable are the descriptions of facilities available for the cruising yacht. This guide lists all of the facilities, the good and the bad, the inexpensive and the outrageously overpriced. Add shopping information for dozens of coastal towns and advice on handling government bureaucracy. No cruising yacht should be without this helpful guide.

Boats transiting Central America will also want to pay close attention to the free resources at the bottom of Sarana‘s web page.

5 Comments

  1. interesting.

    you getting benefits from them you are not declaring, ha ha?

    thanks

  2. It shouldn’t be necessary for me to announce that I’m conducting myself with integrity. Unfortunately some people have few morals. So let me be clear: We have not written about anything where we have any conflict of interest, and if we ever do write about something where we have a conflict, we will make those interests very clear to our readers.

  3. If someone ever wants to give us gear or other goodies in order to get us to write about them, we’ll probably accept them, but we’ll make it completely clear that that is what has occurred.

    In this case, however, we were paid users of the guides long before we ever met Eric and Sherrell, and I’m not sure they even know we’ve mentioned them here.

    Seriously – if you’re cruising these waters, you need these guides. No kickback, just reality.

  4. Steven,

    Thanks so much for putting up a great site! I have been thinking about buying a cruising sailboat and taking off for parts unknown. I was particularly interested in your cruising budget.

    I circumnavigated with my family (wife and 2 young kids) on a Stevens 47, returning to the US around 10 years ago. Getting itchy to go cruising again – although probably not a circumnavigation.

    Your budget information is very much appreciated. I’ve been trying to figure out how much it will cost for living and boat expenses. Our budget was around $1000 a month back then. The dollar is a lot weaker and, of course there is inflation. Maybe I will see you out there someday.

    Dave Sherman

  5. Hi guys!

    I just found this review by accident today (Nov 2010) because we moved a lot of things around on our website and I noticed your site was generating errors (because we moved the graphics you are linking to on this review).

    Thanks for all the kind words and we hope you’re enjoying the S.Pac. How is your guide book coming along?

    Eric & Sherrell