unlike the usa, where there is good free software as well as all of the u.s. government charts
(FREE!!!), there is no such equivalent for the bahamas.
i'm afraid you're going to have to spend some money
. so before you do, let me recommend the BEST hardcopy charts
available for the bahamas - the EXPLORER charts. don't leave home without them. there are three, which basically cover the northern, central, and southern bahamas. they're about fifty or sixty dollars each. they're so good that at least one company that sells digitized charts uses them.
i've cruised the bahamas with only the explorer charts, a couple of cheap
units, and my compass
and depth sounder
. that is, in my opinion, the minimum that a cruiser should have in today's cruising environment
they have a website at www.explorercharts.com
where you can peruse or even order the charts, although i can tell you they are so good and so greatly regarded that practically every sailing store has them in stock, including west marine
in addition to charts they also contain quite a bit of information about each destination
, so you may be able to forego buying
a cruising guide, or just check the used book stores for a recent copy.
i'm not too crazy about wilson's cruising guide. but any guide is probably better than none. just make sure you use the gps
coordinates in the explorer charts and not anyone elses.
or you might get lucky like i did and find a perfectly good explorer chart and a yachtsmans guide in a dumpster at nassau