The US East Coast has a high boating population. You'll see them in power boats of all sizes; catamarans; bass boats, canoes - and even a few conventional sloops. There are numerous East Coast cruising guides - so many, that a 40-foot sailboat like ours cannot hold them all. Amongst the online cruising guides (convenient, storage-wise) is ActiveCaptain. This is a free, interactive cruising guide that was recommended to us by several East Coast-based cruisers as an easy way to study various East Coast inlets, anchorages along the Intracoastal Waterway, and much more. It relates to other cruising areas across the globe, but its highest concentration of contribuitng boaters is on the East Coast, thus that's where much of its information is concentrated.
The ActiveCaptain website offers you a choice of formats to study a cruising area: NOAA charts; satellite; conventional map; or map with satellite overlay. There's a zoom feature that allows close scrutiny. You use your mouse to scroll in any direction; and your cursor is tagged with a lat/lon position. There are route-planning functions and a bunch more features I haven't figured out.
One of the handiest aspects of ActiveCaptain can unfortunately also be its least reliable: cruisers can post reviews and other information regarding marinas, anchorages and inlets they've visited. It's an excellent feature - especially for newcomers to the East Coast like us - with which to study inlet approaches and anchorages, and read the remarks of cruisers who have recently been in those places. Thus, for example, you can read boaters' reports on present conditions along the ICW, including spots that are shoaling or missing navigational aids. We've used the cruisers' reviews to determine which inlets might be best for us to use to get inshore and offshore. We've found some good anchorages for The Fox thanks to the skippers who post the details of where they've been on ActiveCaptain.
However, we've also discovered that some of the information posted by some boaters is inaccurate. But then, when has it not been the case, that the information a cruiser gives, is only as reliable as that particular person? It's certainly not a fatal flaw forActiveCaptain, simply something to keep in mind if you use it (like we have) to explore unfamiliar territory. Use ActiveCaptain to plan a strategy, then make a backout plan and maybe a second backout while you're at it.
ActiveCaptain: even if you don't have a boat it's a fun site to examine. And if you do have a boat it's a good resource. Gallant Fox says, check it out!