There is a strong case to be made for multiple resources. For example:
The Kettlewell strip charts are handy up until you want to make a short trip off the ICW, at which point the chart stops.
We typically travel the ICW with:
The Intracoastal Waterway, Norfolk to Miami
, Jan and Bill Moeller
Best description of navigational issues, and useful for boats with less available room due to compact size. The spiral binding helps the book to lay flat.
Waterway Guide The Cruising Authority
Published by Waterway
Updated more frequently than the Moeller guides, this has info on marinas
and local attractions and history
. Known also as Doziers
Claiborne Young's guidebooks
, and though I have found that they seem to be slanted toward certain advertisers, they are useful (though perhaps more to power boaters than sailors).
These are my favorite format, though you will have to manually update the info as they don't revise annually. You get a bigger picture than the strip charts which helps with trip planning.
Kettlewell strip charts
The smaller size of these charts is both their advantage and liability (see above).
State issued boater's charts
This is a great resource that is free!
Chart No. 1
Though I have been sailing for nearly fifty years, this is still very useful when I need a quick chart reference.
Flags of the World
More useful after heading offshore
, but used here in the US as well.
Additionally, we have the Skipper Bob publications, though I am not sure about their current
status since the death of the Skipper.
For the Bahamas:
Published annually, this is a "must have".
Any of the various Pavlidis or Dodge guides, depending on your destination
- Abacos, Exhumas, etc. We have also had the Waterway Guides, though they are rather limited.
As for paper charts, we have used the Maptech as well as the Explorer. This is one area where caution must be exercised, regardless of publisher. None of them are perfect. Both are adequate. Neither are a substitute for a good lookout and constant vigilance whenever you are in shallow water
or approaching a cay, cut, etc.
We usually travel with courtesy flags
and charts for adjacent areas as well, just in case we decide to travel a bit further afield.
Also consider used charts and guides. We annotate ours with navigational notes so they are more useful to us, as well as any other users.