Your friend, the cruising author

Your friend, the cruising author

An interview with Hilary Keatinge – Co-author of “Atlantic Islands”. 

A considerable effort goes into producing cruising guides, but behind the scenes is a large and collaborative community of boaters contributing their own experiences. Post-publishing, this feedback is collated into essential updates, providing at times crucial information prior to arriving in unknown port destinations. 

Hilary Keatinge is an avid traveller with a lifetime’s international cruising experience and a keen photographer’s eye for detail.  Already a published author, in 2015 she took up co-editing the Atlantic Islands pilot book, which continues to be the only cruising guide for sailors covering most of the north Atlantic islands.  Publishers are currently working to create a digital version with tools that also link into onboard navigational aids for the approach and arrival.

Researching a new edition requires visiting every island and every harbour, checking on emergency procedures, radio frequencies, rules, regulations and much more. Local advice is sought, harbour officials are interviewed and their comments corroborated. It is a formidable task, particularly in the event of a language barrier.  

Hilary Keatinge - Cruising author

(Hilary Keatinge - Cruising author)

Hilary was kind enough to answer the following questions:

Why go to the lengths of providing a new edition every 5 years?

Far from simply rubber-stamping a new edition, each revision can be a wake-up call to all concerned in terms of just how many changes can occur in the life of an edition. The purpose of the guide is to provide accurate and as up to date information as possible, thus giving the sailor confidence prior to arriving at new or even revisited destination.  The shoreline may not have changed since the last book, but the navigational aids could well have, directly affecting the sailor whose priority is to cruise safely.”

How can cruising guides open a door to the hinterlands?

Today’s pilot books for leisure sailors are so much more than the official pilot books, that are produced essentially for the commercial fleets.  Each area, as for instance the group of Canary Islands which I cover, has its own individual personality, both in terms of geography, personality, climate. The role of the pilot book author is to open the regional windows and entice the readers to explore.

I enjoy taking the time to meet those running the local services and exploring the local topics of interest, such as the far-reaching developmental impact created by visionary artist César Manrique in Lanzarote. In this way, I hope our readers will be motivated to discover new cruising grounds and will be motivated to explore not just the coasts but the interiors too.

How would you describe trends affecting marinas over the last 10 years?

Marinas are having to adapt radically to the new dimensions of today’s leisure cruising fleets; boats are longer and more importantly beamier than ten years ago. And there is a growing appetite for multihulls, necessitating berthing alterations which in turn can lead to fewer available berths, so balancing size and costs.

There’s perhaps less of a need for fancy facilities since most modern boats have those on board. What is essential however are pump-out facilities, either mobile or fixed, and raising awareness among the cruising fraternity of the damage to the environment by thoughtless crews who think they can discard everything over the side. Some countries, have done more than others to promote these types of services and so it would help for accompanying campaigns to be produced in several languages.

Any other observations of interest?

By and large commercial harbours are run by ex-mariners and to the present time most are men. The industry is not showing any signs of changing very fast.  Yes, there are some women Harbour Masters but few. However, many of the most helpful, most practical sources of information for this author of guides for leisure cruisers are the Nº2s, many of whom are women.

A final message for boaters?

Moving forwards, the critical factor is having awareness and respect for others and the environment, and I would say to the cruising community in particular, that there are wonderful experiences out there, embrace and enjoy the wonders of seascapes and new cultures.

Safe cruising - and do send us authors your feedback so we can share the very latest information.

NW Tenerife - Photo credit: Hilary Keatinge

(NW Tenerife: Hilary Keatinge)