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BOOK REVIEW

Suncoast Cruising Guide Book Review By Manuel Verdeguer

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s a newcomer to the “Suncoast,” my curiosity was awakened during the Strictly Sail show in St. Petersburg last December by author Capt. Randy Deering and his book, A Concise, Cruising Guide to Florida’s Suncoast. The complete title printed on the cover is actually A Concise, User-Friendly and Enjoyable Cruising Guide to Florida’s Suncoast: the Best of Everything from Clearwater to Charlotte Harbor (and Some Beyond). Such a title is worthy of a 16th Century treatise on navigation. I struck up a conversation with the author at his booth and soon discovered that I was speaking with a Renaissance man of the 21st Century. Capt. Deering is not only an accomplished navigator, but he is also a painter and writer. But now to the guide. It is a 148-page spiral-bound book that makes for easy opening of charts and sketches for consultation while under way. Divided into 10 major sections, including an introduction, the book points out that unlike other cruising guides that follow the west coast of Florida from south to north, this one moves from north to south. There are nine plasticized tabs to guide us through the book, with the first three dividing the overall Suncoast area into Cruising North: Dunedin/Clearwater Pass to John’s Pass; Cruising Central: John’s Pass to Longboat Pass including Tampa Bay; Cruising South: Long Boat Pass to Boca Grande and a little beyond (Fort Myers to Marco Island). Also included is a write-up and sketch of the Okeechobee Waterway, which extends east from Fort Myers. Each of these cruising sections is carefully detailed with navigation instructions and foldout color sketches and references to the appropriate navigation charts with relevant GPS coordinates. There are numerous high-quality aerial photographs depicting the different areas. These are very helpful in understanding the cruising area. Each cruising section also includes relevant references to the appropriate anchorages that are listed in the anchorage section. The bridge section begins with an index of coastal bridges followed by descriptions and quality photos to clarify understanding. Next is an index of bridges in the Okeechobee Waterway. The anchorage section provides what Captain Deering considers the best 32 anchorages in the area, with a map coded to numbers in an alphabetical listing. Each anchorage

is then described in words with an accompanying sketch or an aerial photo and, where applicable, the navigational chart reference. For me, as a newcomer, this section provides the most invaluable information in the guide. The remaining four sections are “Marinas,” “Restaurants,” “See & Do,” and “Information.” (I really need to visit all these restaurants to see if I agree with Capt. Deering!) I found particularly interesting the description of all the things to see and do. Descriptions are brief and locals may find them lacking, given the rich opportunities along the Suncoast. But it is important to the cruising aficionado to get to know the places you visit during your journey and as such, this guide does provide a brief guide and direction to many interesting sites and activities. All in all, this is a very concise, attractive, and welldesigned package and a guide that I plan to use while cruising in this area. For information on how to buy this book, visit the author’s Web site, www.randydeering.com.

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March 2011

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