Publisher: Imray Laurie Norie and Wilson Ltd, 2002 £ 28
The 8th Edition of the Cruising Association Handbook has been superseded by this joint publication with Imray, which brings in their mapping and marketing skills to produce a superb almanac at a highly competitive price. I joined the CA in 1985 to get the discount on the B&W 6th edition of the Cruising Association Handbook, the Handbook which originated from 1909 being perhaps better known then amongst yachtsmen than the Association itself. Since then I have carried on board the latest edition of this steadily improving almanac.
A 430pp soft back with a separate 80pp soft back of Admiralty-based tide tables for 2003 it is presented in a strong slipcase. A postcard is enclosed to request free tide tables for the following year. The price of £28 and weight of 1870gm compares with £32.95 and a massive 2220gm for Macmillan Reeds. The almanac itself weighs only 1380gm, and should be easier to handle on board.
For those familiar with the CA Handbook the Almanac contains everything, with many improvements, but much more. The most obvious improvement is in the 600-plus chartlets; for example sectored lights now show the colour to be seen by coloured arcs around the lights. To show the white arc deep water is now coloured blue rather than white. Imray's digital production enables these to be much more up-to-date than many almanacs, the cut-off date being 1 May 2002. Coloured tabs in the margin allow sections to be found more readily, and the overview charts for each section now show TSS and the applicable VHF channels for each port, HMCG sector, yacht club, etc.. The increased content has been made possible by using four columns for all but the initial explanatory notes, largely eliminating wasted white space, and a slightly smaller type size. Geographical coverage from the Baltic approaches to Gibraltar is unchanged.
Tidal curves for the 40 ports, and tidal stream atlasses for eight areas are included in the main volume. The 9pp of explanatory notes, including abbreviations, chart symbols and port traffic signals leaves little space for safety and weather information which is at best an aide memoire. The diagrams of magnetic variation and schedule for updating UK Admiralty charts to WSG84 datum are useful. The page devoted to Astro Navigation is too sketchy to be of use; besides like it or not the vast majority of yachtsmen rely on GPS. I like the absence of tables of waypoints which forces users to take full responsibility for their navigation.
As with all publications covering dynamic information, there are minor errors, and telephone number coverage is patchy. Corrections will be available free on the Cruising Association web site http://cruising-association.com
In conclusion The Cruising Almanac is a worthy successor to the highly respected Cruising Association Handbook. - RMG