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Thread: best charts for sailing San Blas Islands?

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Default best charts for sailing San Blas Islands?

    Has anyone any advice on best charts to use and best areas to cruise?
    Safe Sailing
    Paul
    Blog: www.suliere.com

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
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    currently Columbia/Panama
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    329

    Default Re: best charts for sailing San Blas Islands?

    The only charts to use are those by Eric Bauhaus. He has a book with very detailed and accurate charts in them. Unfortunately, he doesn't sell electronic versions, but some of us have digitized them in BSB format and they are widely available. When you get there, everyone will have copies you can get, and preferably you can find someone with them before you arrive.

    Buy his book anyway - it is well worth the money.

    Again, these are the ONLY charts you should use there. None of the commercial charts are anywhere close to accurate, and some are so bad as to be dangerous. The area is treacherous and many boats are lost on the reefs each year. That isn't an exaggeration - I would estimate 5-10 boats a year are lost on the reefs. The waters are not as clear as the Bahamas, so often the reefs are difficult to see until its too late. There is no recovering from hitting a reef - they are boat eaters. There are wrecked hulks of cruising boats laying everywhere.

    Bauhaus has painstakingly surveyed the entire SB's in fine detail using modern surveying equipment (he is a marine surveyor by trade), and his charts are dead accurate and complete to the smallest reefs and bumps.

    As for best areas - take your pick! The far Western group of islands are where you will find most of the boats, but the more numerous and less visited Eastern islands are where you will find most of the traditional living and culture.

    If you are entering from the East, like Colombia, then it is easy to enter the SB's from the East and travel through them towards the West. If you are coming down from the North/West, then it can be more difficult to go East because of prevailing weather, which you will have to pick through weather windows - which isn't too bad. Difficult in winter, but easier in spring/fall. Summer is constant lightning.

    We spent a total of 4 years cruising those islands and love them. Will probably have another go at a season or two in the future.

    Mark
    Mark Cole
    Manta 40 "Reach"
    www.svreach.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Default Re: best charts for sailing San Blas Islands?

    Mark
    Thanks for good advice.
    I have there Eric Bauhaus book 4th edition and will study it with care as well as entering the waypoints etc.
    I assume there are no separate charts.

    We always prefer away from the crowds so its the east ones we head for.

    We have been told G
    alapagos now has a policy of pricing cruisers out and making taking on fuel difficult so we will give them a miss - we have already been a and filmed there a few years back. So now we have to decide if we go straight to French Polynesia or go their via the pitcairn islands with their population of 49.

    Decisions, decisions


    Safe Sailing
    Paul
    Blog: www.suliere.com

  4. #4

    Default Re: best charts for sailing San Blas Islands?

    Paul - the electronic charts from the Bauhaus book are in the folder I shared with you on dropbox. Look in the "Panama Info" folder.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: best charts for sailing San Blas Islands?

    Yes Rick - just found them ion my pacific file.
    I will now get a mac program to run them.
    Cheers
    Safe Sailing
    Paul
    Blog: www.suliere.com

  6. #6

    Default Re: best charts for sailing San Blas Islands?

    OpenCPN works for that.

  7. #7

    Default Re: best charts for sailing San Blas Islands?

    Quote Originally Posted by rickp View Post
    Paul - the electronic charts from the Bauhaus book are in the folder I shared with you on dropbox. Look in the "Panama Info" folder.
    Rick, I'm currently sailing to the San Blas and would love to be able to download the digitized Bauhaus charts.

  8. #8

    Default Re: best charts for sailing San Blas Islands?

    Quote Originally Posted by syzoe View Post
    Rick, I'm currently sailing to the San Blas and would love to be able to download the digitized Bauhaus charts.
    PM me your e-mail address and I'll share them.

    Rick

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
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    Santa Barbara, Calif.
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    541

    Default Re: best charts for sailing San Blas Islands?

    I have found making charts from Google Earth using GE2KAP and running them on OpenCPN invaluable for areas with poor coverage. Commercial electronic charts are woefully inadequate. I have completely given up on Navionics. I simply make GE charts for the whole region using different scales. One particular advantage of GE charts is that reefs and sand bars can usually be seen quite well. Recently a friend struck an unmarked reef in the Sea of Cortez using his electronic charts. My GE charts showed the reef clearly. I even use GE charts in area with great coverage, such as the USA, for this very reason. GE is also useful for land travel once you get to your anchorage. You can find hiking trails in the boonies as well as road maps in villages and towns.

  10. #10

    Default Re: best charts for sailing San Blas Islands?

    Yes, the GE charts can be very useful especially out here in the Tuamotu atolls - we've found quite a few anchorages using them. The Venture Father website is very handy in that respect.

    However, for the San Blas, the Bauhaus charts are the way to go...

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2017
    Location
    Cornwall UK
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    2

    Default Re: best charts for sailing San Blas Islands?

    Hello Rick,

    Currently our boat is in Grenada intending to head West in November, the San Blas Islands being an intended stop.
    I have the Eric Bauhaus guide but would also like the digitized charts for my iPad.
    Is it possible that you could send me a copy please?

    Regards

    Derek Giles

  12. #12

    Default Re: best charts for sailing San Blas Islands?

    Send me your email address via PM and I'll share the dropbox folder...

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2017
    Location
    Cornwall UK
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    2

    Default Re: best charts for sailing San Blas Islands?

    Hello Rick,

    Did you receive my email address?

    Regards

    Derek

  14. #14

    Default Re: best charts for sailing San Blas Islands?

    Yup - sorry for the delay. I now have a sim here in Tonga, so should get it done today...

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