Panama Canal Maptech Charts
A friend of mine has just bought a 58 foot commercial fishing boat on the
East coast of Canada and has asked me to come along with him to run it around to Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
Both my buddy and I own and are comfortable using versions of Nobel Tech nav software. Like virtually every other boater I know I am a pack-rat and over the years collected a lot of electronic charts. Our Canadian charts are accurate and I have bought an updated pack of the USA NOAA charts and am confident of their quality. The charts I am questioning are the Maptech charts of the non-US southern water around the Carribean, Panama, and the coast of Mexico.
What I would like to know is:
-are there a better charts of this area than the maptech ones?
- is there a source of inexpensive updated charts of this area (we are only going to go through there once and would rather rent charts)
We are both used to our wet coast,and off shore weather, but would appreciate any tips that others may have; particularly in regard to the East Coast, ICW. and transiting the Panama.
Weather is a pain when it is happening an adventure when it is over
I know this isnt what you asked, but I thought I should mention this. Beware of the Nicaragua rise. The charts through this area are based on ones from the 1800s, electronic or not. You may be tempted to hug the coast of nicaragua, as it seems almost a safer option if you are afraid of the blue water, but it is dangerous for just that reason. I spoke with a few people in the bar who were supposed to be in 100 feet of water and were in six. I think it must be totally wrong just past cabo gracias a dios. Do that during a big storm and you are toast. Some folks say that you have to watch out for smugglers from nicaragua during that run, but I think thats no more than anywhere really. One more reason to go the other way.
Get the Raines guide. Everyone swears by it. Go to the caymans, have a 15 dollar beer and hang a right. Keep in as deep water as you can. I only did the trip once, and opinions may vary, I am no pro. But thats my 2cents for what its worth. If it was me I would check my weather window and put the hammer down and leave it down till I got to Providencia and enjoy the 50 cent beers. But then I'm a bit chicken. That passage shook me up, bigggg breaking waves.
Man do I wish I was cruising!
Thanks for the reply - it is the kind of info I was hoping to get. Local knowledge and experience from folk who have actually made the trip are invaluable. I especially appreciate the tip about the Guide; from thousands of miles away it is difficult to evaluate which one is most pertainent.
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