When our friend Mike Sweeney on s/v Zero to Cruising was planning a new life for he and his wife Rebecca, he picked up a reference book that listed 10 books that one must have for the Eastern Caribbean. Mike ordered every guidebook on the spot and stored them on their catamaran way ahead of their southbound voyage from Canada.
The Lezovi tried another method. We purchased a couple of books from the same list and then tried to find the remainder at marinas and chandleries as we headed south. We were delusional. The retail world below 24˚33’ is nothing like Wally World.
On the other hand, we bought The Panama Cruising Guide by Eric Bauhaus in advance of our voyage west. The price is hard to swallow at $65US, and I found it for about $5 less on a cruising website. Geoff on s/v Eclipse probably would pay any price for it. He has book envy. He’s as impressed with the information as we are.
S/V Eclipse and s/v Happy Times (HT) left Isla Pinos at 7:30 a.m. The wind was blowing at nine knots, and we wanted to get an early start before the speed began creeping up. We motored out through the southeast entrance and around the island before we began heading north. At that point, the Bauhaus guide began proving its worth. From its detailed charts we could see that the best route would take us on the inside of the reef, motoring on the west side of Isla Iguana.
It turned out to be a good decision. By following the author’s waypoints through the Pinos Canal, we kept our catamarans far away from the breakers separating the deeper ocean from the reef. There were breakers certainly on the inside path, but they surrounded the smaller islands in the channel and we steered clear of them.
In several instances the Bauhaus book guided us away from dry land when the Garmin did not. Had we relied solely on our chartplotter, we’d probably be grounded. Also, it indicated a few risks that the electronics missed.
To be sure, there are other guidebooks to cruising Panama on the market. The Zydler guide contains some information that Bauhaus does not. For accuracy, detail and maps, however, the Bauhaus guide is THE superior reference for Panama.