Free Cruising Guides for Countries Outside the U.S.

First he brought you free cruising guides for the U.S., and now Captain John from offers up a way to obtain free international cruising guides and charts.

Nothing beats the price of free when it comes to navigation publications. Are you planning a cruise or charter to the Caribbean, in Europe, Scandinavia, or the Mediterranean? Then look no further than this treasure chest of information.

You can find navigation and cruising information at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA Publications). Note that these are large files, so it will take a few seconds to download the data.

Use Both Parts of the Sailing Directions for Cruise Planning

PART I – Ocean Basin Overview with the “Planning Guide”

If you plan on sailing outside of US waters, turn to the two-part Sailing Directions. Use the “Planning Guide” part for an overview of the country or island of interest. Each Planning Guide contains one or more of the world’s ocean basins. Here you will find general information on countries that reside within these ocean basins.

For example, Planning Guide Pub. 140 contains general information for cautions, climate, currents, fishing areas, navigation, pollution, regulations, and ship reporting for the North Atlantic Ocean and Adjacent Seas (Baltic Sea, Black Sea, Caribbean Sea, Mediterranean Sea, North Atlantic Ocean, and North Sea and English Channel).

It then gives general information for each country within the specific ocean basin. In the illustration above, the chapter for the Caribbean Sea provides the user with an overview of climate, navigation hazards, general navigation, shipping routes, and tides. Then, it gives a general overview of each country within the Caribbean Sea (magnified view in illustration above) to make your planning smooth and easy. Think of the Planning Guide as a “bird’s-eye” view of the general area where you will be sailing.

PART II – Country Detail with the “Enroute Guide”

Now comes the nitty gritty where you really “zoom in” to each country. Each Enroute Guide has a Sector Limits graph in the front (see illustration below). These are the “chapters” of the Enroute Guide. If you see a sector that interests you, you can get detailed information on any country that resides within that sector. Here is the Sector Limits graph from the Enroute Guide for the Caribbean Sea (Part I) Pub. 147. (note ~ the vast geographic area of the Caribbean is broken into two Parts for detailed coverage. Pub 147 covers the northern Caribbean; Pub 148 covers the southern Caribbean)

Below are two samples from sectors 8 and 9 from the Caribbean Enroute Guide. Sector 8 has details of each island located with the British Virgin Islands and The Leeward Islands. Sector 9 has details of each island located within the Windward Island chain and Barbados.

I believe the beautiful, detailed photos and drawings of the Enroute Guides are some of its handiest and most useful features for landfall and approaches to harbors. You will also find detailed hand drawn sketches here and there within the Enroute Guides.

How to Find the Cruise Planning Charts You Need

The front of each “Sector” chapter contains a bird’s-eye view of those countries contained within the Sector and the nautical charts you need for planning. Always double check to make sure you have the latest edition nautical chart aboard and that each chart has been corrected through the latest Notice to Mariners. The illustration shows the Chart Information for Sector 8 of the Caribbean Sea (Part I) Enroute Guide (British Virgin Islands and the Leeward Islands).

Discover the incredible Free offer of Sailing Directions Planning and Enroute publications to expand your sailing and cruising horizons. Save money, time, and effort when you use “golden info guides” like these–wherever in the world you choose to go cruising!

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