The posts on this forum are a bit dated, but I just received the latest edition of the Rains guide so thought I would post my 2-cents on NW Carib Cruising guides. I live and cruise
in the region so know first-hand the areas covered by these guides. Below is my perspective on each of the three publications (that I know of) which cover this region (note there are a few out of print guides and other Internet
based sources of info as well).
Cruising Ports: the Central American Route (AKA "Rains Guide")
. Excellent guide to passage
planning between cruising ports. Very good publication. It is not intended to be a "cruising guide" per se, but does also include a fair amount of information supplemental to its purpose. It's primary value is for planning routes between cruising ports.
Cruising Guide to Belize and Mexico's Caribbean Coast, including Guatemala's Rio Dulce (Freya Rauscher)
. Another excellent work and the only comprehensive reference for Belize. Her charts are the most comprehensive and accurate available for Belize (Excluding the small area around Belize City which has current
surveys -- all other government
issued charts are based on very old surveys). There are a few, very few, errors and omissions in this guide so, as with any other source of information, use it prudently, but overall it is accurate and very well done -- especially true given the extensive and complex waters of Belize.
A Cruising Guide to the Northwest Caribbean (Stephen J. Pavlidis).
This is an odd publication. It only covers a relatively small area of the NW Carib. For example, effectively no information on Belize or Mexico
-- even the section describing potential routes from the Gulf Of Mexico
to Rio Dulce omits Belize like it does not exist -- tough to do from a practical perspective (Not even a reference to Freya's guide for more information). It's primary value is the navigation
information it provides for the Bay Islands and Northern coast of Honduras
(many more ports are covered than in the Rains guide...which appropriately only covers those commonly used for transiting the area). This navigation
information is sparse, but sufficient and accurate. However, there are voluminous sections on local culture and history
(reasonably well done, but all this information and more is available from other sources). The sparse navigation information for each port is supplemented by much more extensive information regarding Internet
access and dining options for that port. Those anchorages
which lack much in the way of these services are typically dismissed as having nothing of interest for the cruising sailor (other than a good anchorage!). And, just in case you missed something, there is even more information in the appendices regarding Internet access and dining in the NW Carib. (An update that makes much of this voluminous documentation
of Internet Cafe's obsolete -- good, inexpensive cellular Internet access is available through-out Honduras and the Bay Islands from TIGO -- buy yourself a TIGO stick including one month of service
for less than $30US total and surf even when underway!).
- My 2 cents