Below is a start for information on the region:
There are a number of cruising guides
published for the region. Collectively they provide excellent and detailed coverage.
Below is my perspective on each of these 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).
: 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
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 guide in fact 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
. The 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.
Cruising Guide (Eric Bauhaus). This is "THE" guide to Panama
and one of the best guides I have ever used independent of venue. Extremely detailed and comprehensive with excellent satellite
cartography, aerial shots, and extensive local knowledge. Gets my vote for best cruising guide ever written regardless of venue.
Cruising Guide to Colombia
. This is a truly impressive official tome of a cruising guide which is richly illustrated and chock full of navigation details. However, it was developed to promote maritime tourism and much of the text was clearly written by people who knew nothing of boats or navigation. The navigation details however are extensive and good, including a full set of charts, waypoint lists, and aerial photos. Paper copies are not widely available, but are handed out for free when clearing into Santa Marta or Cartagena. Bluewater Books
& Charts used to offer a paper copy for shipping
costs only, but no more. There is a full PDF version available, but the problem is that the PDF version of this guide is so large and rich in graphic content that it often fails render properly and can be very slow and cumbersome to navigate, especially since it has no hyperlinked content. You can find a full copy of the cruising guide, and a version broken into multiple PDF files here: https://db.tt/rEd5ywl4
to Rio Dulce Cruising Guide (freecruisingguides.com). Very well done coverage of the area. ...
Colombia Other. There are a number of articles and simple guides written by other cruisers which are not as extensive or as detailed as the official guide, but do contain a lot of useful information. A list of those I know of below.
CRUISING GUIDE FOR COAST OF COLOMBIA (updated December 2006). Lourae and Randy on PIZAZZ.
Cartagena to the San Blas The Easy Route. Suzanne Longacre. Caribbean Compass
Bay of Cholon Waypoints. s/v Nikki Wikki. 2011
Club Nautico Web site. Dated web site, but still has good info on Colombia & Cartagena. http://www.clubnauticocartagena.com/carta.htm
Sailing the Caribbean Coast of Colombia. Three part article published in Oct, Nov, Dec 2011. Constance Elson. Caribbean Compass
. Also available from author as a single
The Cruising Guide to The Northwest Caribbean by Nigel Calder, September 1991.
Bay Islands (spiral-bound) by Julius M Wilen
Also take a look at Pilot Charts for the region.
The area of higher winds and seas associated with the Colombian Low tend to start to settle down about now thru the summer, but squalls increase in summer months.
From my "Western Caribbean Cruising Notes".