- by Carol Standish
New and Unusual Cruising Guides
Managing the Waterway (semi-local publications, 172pp, $24.95) is different from the existing slew of guides to the ICW in one distinct way. Rather than telling you how to get there it tells you first, where you are and second, what’s there.
Based on the theory that a cruiser with a high comfort level is a happy cruiser, authors (and cruisers), Mark and Diana Doyle have addressed the cruiser’s “hierarchy of needs.” The most important contribution to comfort level is safety. The Doyles’ guide provides geographic overview, basic navigation and piloting, weather and safety source information, bridge and locks schedules and protocols and location and descriptions of marinas and anchorages, state by state for every mile of the way from Norfolk, Virginia to Biscayne Bay, Florida. And that’s just the safety stuff.
The Doyles also address the second level in the hierarchy of cruising needs, physical comfort, including planning ahead and timing (who wants to circle on the wrong side of a bridge for two hours because you missed the scheduled opening by a few minutes). Provisioning, another determinant of comfort level discussed in detail with myriad sources and tricks of the trade. Alternate routes and shortcuts are also suggested and evaluated according to the cruiser’s tastes and goals.
On top of all this practical stuff—which, granted, can be found in other ICW guides, but not, I bet, in a single volume, the authors add yet another dimension of comfort and enjoyment—historical, cultural and environmental information for the area you’re traveling through as well as interesting local sights, activities and attractions. And most impressive of all, this immense amount of information is neatly presented in an easily manageable 8 ½ x 11inch format in 172 spiral bound pages. The text is amply relieved with attractive photographs, lists, star charts and so forth.
It is the ingenious organization and page design that make this guide so singularly useful. Each state abutting the water comprises a section. Each section introduces its territory with a full page map of the land mass with coastal county names provided (to identify local weather broadcast locations—relative to your own, a list of charts relevant to the area, a list of bridges and a numerical list of “other features” like marinas, anchorages, chandleries, inlets and ranges, tide heights for major ports and finally, a list of cities on the ICW in that state, the distance between them and their ICW mile marker. That’s just one page all perfectly readable.
The body pages of each state section are equally well designed. After a page or two of general information a “rolling header” is added to the top of each travel page that provides safety information sources and bridges by mile marker, for the specific few miles covered in the body of the page. Below the header each page is divided into three columns. The outside column is the mile by mile physical description of what you’re passing with vhf frequencies, telephone numbers, anchorage and channel depths, cuts, chart numbers and the channel markers you are passing.
Page 70, for instance, is the first in the transit of the South Carolina coast. It covers the first six miles in the outside column. The other two columns on the page are a narrative description of what you’re passing—flora, fauna, historical moments, and of course, marine businesses. The next page starts at mile 347.1. When you get to mile 358.1, it’s time to turn the page. At the end of each state section is a list of waterway marine facilities—with addresses and phone numbers and what the authors call “waterway business cards” to clip or copy for easy reference ashore. Sure, you’ll need a “how to get there” guide but once you take a look at this great comfort enhancing tool, Managing the Waterway will be right beside it at the helm keeping you informed of what there is.
The Maine Island Trail is a 325-mile long waterway that extends from Casco Bay in the south to Machias Bay on the Canadian Border. It includes 128 islands, both public and private (and ten additional island in New Brunswick). The Maine Island Trail Association and its 3500 user/members mission is to balance responsible recreational access to islands with land conservation on the Maine coast through volunteer stewardship, self-policing and encouragement of thoughtful “no trace” recreational use.
Island owners have agreed to share their islands with people who have made the commitment, by joining MITA, to follow low-impact practices. The Maine Island Trail 2005 Stewardship and Guidebook is “new” only because it is published annually (and has been for 18 years). Island “members” join and drop off every year so the trail changes making the guide valid only for the year it’s published.
The guide is unique because the trail is unique. In the first of four sections, the book outlines the philosophy and practices of the association. In the second section, the trail is delineated through mini-charts, maps and text, locating island and mainland sites open to MITA members. Since the guide targets small boat owners, high hazard areas are indicated, as are extra special places of interest. Each of the 128 islands are represented with an outline, compass coordinates, description of facilities (if any) and landing sites.
Section three of the guide contains articles on boating safety, navigation, no-trace camping methods and material sources, flora and fauna (including ticks and poison ivy) and the natural history of the coast. This year the editors have added provocative poems and short writings which express the deeply restorative affect of the more remote aspects of the coast. The last section contains a list of business members along the coast.
The offices of this truly a remarkable organization are located at 58 Fore Street, Portland, Maine 04101. FMI: call 207-761-8225 or visit www.mita.org. Memberships, starting at $45 include the MITA guide.