Review of the Maptech Embassy Guide, Maine Coast, first edition 1999
Return to The Maine Coast Guide on the web
|Points East, August 2000, by Priscilla Wheatley
Malne Coast, Flrst Edition. Maptech Embassy Guides, 1999; spiral bound, 246 pages; $44.95.
In sharp contrast to Rindlaub's detailed work, Embassy Guides (part of Maptech, which bought out BBA and its Chart Kits several years ago) has entered the market with a slick publication that falls far short of the mark. While the introduction to "Maine Coast" promises the most complete and succinct guide available, this publication delivers on the latter and falls flat on the former. With a $44.95 cover price and plenty of ads, it just doesn't seem worth the price, at least if you are only going to invest in one cruising guide.
On the plus side, this is a recent publication, so much of the information on facilities is more current than Taft/Rindlaub. It also has tables of facilities that clearly list phone numbers, services, dockage, and supplies. Color chart clips illustrate each destination, and include numbered waypoints with latitude and longitude that reference a table near the front of the volume. Each region has its own introduction that includes ads for local facilities. Individual harbors are presented in one or two pages, with very nice color photography. Activities and restaurants/provisions occupy most of the text.
Navigation and anchorages give good directions, but suffer from interminably long navigation aid descriptions: "The Saco River entrance buoy, Mo(A) WHISTLE RW "17VI" WP-108 (lat/lon.)... and 7.4nm south of Fl(4) 15s 129ft 15M HORN (Cape Elizabeth Light)." Not particularly easy to absorb.
Unfortunately, exploring the coast with this volume is pretty much like heading up the interstate and jumping off at a few exits. The authors apparently did their research hitching rides on lobster boats, crewing a schooner and island hopping in Casco Bay. It shows. There are no nooks and crannies here, and the text lacks the familiarity and knowledge born of years of cruising that you'll find in Taft/Rindlaub or in the seminal cruising text by Roger Duncan, "Cruising Guide to the New England Coast."
For example, any neophyte Maine cruiser heading to Passamaquoddy Bay with only this guide will find little about the fierce tidal and current patterns that make preplanning a day's leg essential. Yes, you can get a great ride down Grand Manan Channel with the tide - I know I did, at over 8 knots SOG on an 18' waterline - but if the wind is against that tide you'll be in big trouble, even in a relatively large boat.
For the serious Maine cruiser who intends to go beyond southern Maine and Casco Bay, Taft/Rindlaub's "A Cruising Guide to the Maine Coast" remains the better choice for technical information - after all, the rocks and islands don't move much, and updated navaid information is readily available from Coast Guard publications. If you need more current listings of shoreside facilities, add the Embassy Guide "Maine Coast," but recognize its limitations.
DIAMOND PASS PUBLISHING, INC.
19 Brook Lane, Peaks Island, Maine 04108 phone/fax 207-766-2337