Do you know how sometimes you come across a publication or a useful boating bit and you think, “Wow”. “Why did it take so long for me to find this? This is exactly what I need on my boat.” That’s what I thought when I came across the Cruising Guide to Vanuatu on CD-rom while researching for another publication. I’m sure I’m not alone in my praise for this innovative, interactive guide to cruising Vanuatu. It’s one of the cleverest guides I’ve come across.
Created by Photographer and Marine Scientist (along with many other hats that Richard wears) Richard Chesher and his partner Frederique Chesher, the heart of the guide is in the clever use of aerial photography. Aerial images are used throughout to show approaches to anchorages as well as the actual anchorage itself. Zooming in allows the user to see intricate detail, while zooming out gives an overall picture of the anchorage surrounds. The user has the capability to overlay aerial images with map cartography, creating a mariners chart with 3D-like qualities. Not only can you see the changing colour of water depths in the image, the charted figures confirm it for you. Reefs and other hazards stand out, much as the mariner would see them in real life ie darker or different coloured water indicates a change in bottom profile. Much of the ambiguity for a navigator is removed simply with the inclusion of these quality aerial photographs.
Many years in the development, Richard decided in 2000 that after years working with the UN and other organisations on how to change the behaviour of communities to improve the health of the planet, it was time for a change. He and Freddy had been migrating for years between Sydney and Vanuatu, stopping off at New Caledonia on the way. Collating all the material they had collected over the years, the idea was to create a visual database – known technically as a Geographic Information System. Richard’s vision was to, “Imagine you are in a space ship above Vanuatu and had powerful instruments that would enable you to look anywhere in Vanuatu and zoom down and see it at very low altitude – even on the ground. What better way could there be – short of actually cruising there – to know what was where and what to expect.” It is, litterally a bird’s eye view.
Complimenting the image and anchorage notes are tidbits of information to be found around the anchorages. There’s also information on etiquette when visiting villages along with insights into local customs, provisioning info as well as facilities and services available. Complimenting the Cruising Guide to Vanuatu is the Rocket Guide to Vanuatu Travel Guide, a tourism guide. Originally produced with the travel industry in mind, this guide is created in a similar format to the nautical guide, with extensive use of stunning imagery. Nautical notes and anchorage information has been replaced with a plethora of facts and information for the tourist.
They make a handy pair for anyone considering a jaunt into the South Pacific.
Verdict: Highly Recommended