A Review of 2000-2001 Cruising Guide to the Leeward Islands
by Chris Doyle
Reviewed by David Kester
As a cruiser planning my first trip to this area, I found the guide to be, in a word, excellent. For those who don't have a chart handy, the Leeward Islands fall between the Virgin Islands and Martinique. There are 15 major islands; St. Martin, St. Barts, St. Kitts, Antigua and Dominica are among the more famous.
Each island is covered in great detail beginning with entry regulations, how to use the telephones, how to get around on the island, shopping hours, and local holidays. Following an introduction to the island is a description of each port or anchorage and a discussion of vital navigation, customs and immigration, services available on shore (marinas, stores, restaurants, bars etc.), and a section on water sports (diving, snorkeling, rentals, and charters).
A sketch chart, in full color, is shown for each anchorage and many anchorages have an overhead photo. With a total of over 400 pages, the guide provides enough information for even the first time charterer to safely sail the Leewards, provided he or she has taken an approved chartering and navigation courses. I particularly like the spiral binding and semi-waterproof paper. This, of course, makes it quite easy to use in the cockpit when and where it's needed. This guide does have advertisements that, for the most part, are helpful without being distracting. There is even a web site for any errata. I checked it and there was none!
If I were King, I would improve the section on cruise planning, with perhaps some suggested itineraries for short, medium and long cruises, and a list of must see/do's for different audiences including: families, divers, swingers, fisherpersons, etc. A pronunciation guide might prevent embarrassing errors e.g. Leeward - LOU-ard.
In my opinion this is a “Must Buy” for anyone sailing the area and a “Highly Recommended” for divers and perhaps the largest audience... dreamers.
Dave is a half-time live-aboard (on three months, off three months) currently based in the Florida and the Bahamas. He's planning a trip down island to Trinidad in 2001.