The Doyle Cruising Guides are a series of popular sailing and cruising guidebooks that provide valuable information and resources for sailors and boaters exploring the Caribbean. These guides are known for their comprehensive and detailed coverage of specific cruising areas, offering a wealth of information on anchorages, marinas, navigation, local customs, regulations, and other practical advice for sailors.
Lexi Fisher is the CEO of Chris Doyle Publishing. Her roots in Grenada run deep, having been born and raised on the island. Her love for the sea was cultivated from a young age as she sailed alongside her father, Jeff. Family vacations were synonymous with ocean adventures and globetrotting, instilling in Lexi a profound connection to both.
Lexi talked to American Sailing about sailing, the Caribbean, and the art of publishing the Doyle Cruising Guides.
For Lexi Fisher, the azure waters of the Caribbean have always been her playground. Born and raised in Grenada, her love affair with the sea was cultivated from a young age, as she sailed alongside her father, Jeff, who happened to be one of Chris Doyle’s oldest friends. Little did she know that her childhood adventures on the ocean would eventually steer her towards a fulfilling career in travel writing, specializing in Caribbean cruising guides.
After completing her studies in Geography and Environmental Studies in Canada, Lexi returned to her island home, realizing that the allure of Grenada was too strong to resist, and she had no intention of enduring another Canadian winter. It was during this time that fate intervened. Chris Doyle, a well-known figure in the world of Caribbean cruising guides, was contemplating retirement and was on the lookout for someone intimately acquainted with the local culture and deeply invested in the yachting community. Recognizing Lexi’s unique qualifications, he extended an offer that would change her life.
With no prior experience as a writer, Lexi embarked on her journey with an open heart and a passion for sailing, travel, and her beloved Caribbean homeland.
“While I had no experience as a writer, I knew sailing, loved to travel, and I loved my Caribbean home, so being able to share that with others via guide books sounded pretty great,” Lexi confessed.
Her initial season involved shadowing Chris aboard his catamaran, Ti Kanot, meticulously documenting their adventures, capturing photographs, and assisting with the design of advertisements and charts. As it turned out, Lexi had an innate talent for the craft and a keen sense of creativity and community that aligned perfectly with her newfound role.
The following year saw Lexi taking on a more substantial role, updating the Grenada and Carriacou sections of the guidebook on her own. As her confidence grew, so did her responsibilities, and she gradually expanded her territory within the Caribbean cruising guidebooks.
The allure of sailing in the Caribbean, according to Lexi, lies in its exceptional trade winds, friendly locals, and breathtaking landscapes. Lexi explains, “Chris likes to tell this joke where he gives a Caribbean Weather Forecast, good for the next 5 months; ‘The winds will be northeast to southeast at 5-27 knots with the possibility of showers and higher gusts in showers. There may very occasionally be a calm period with light variable winds.’ …and it’s so true. The weather is great, the people are friendly, and the scenery is breathtaking.”
Writing the Guides
Producing comprehensive cruising guides for such a diverse and extensive region is not without its challenges. Lexi emphasizes the sheer amount of time and effort required to visit all the anchorages and destinations and the need to establish personal connections with local businesses and communities for each update. Yet, these challenges come with rewards, “The flip side of that is the great sense of community and connectedness that comes from visiting the same places year after year. The relationships you develop with the business people and local communities is really rewarding.”
Chris Doyle played a pivotal role in the Caribbean cruising guides, and Lexi’s transition into the lead role was a gradual process. His invaluable knowledge and guidance continue to be a source of support for her.
Planning The Caribbean Sail
For sailors planning their Caribbean adventure, Lexi advises against rigid schedules. While research is essential, leaving room for spontaneity can lead to unexpected discoveries and memorable experiences.
“The thing about everyone being on island time is no joke. The level of attention and customer service we’re used to in the northern hemisphere simply isn’t part of the culture in the Caribbean. Embrace it as best you can.” Lexi’s advice on slowing it down.
In Lexi’s eyes, Carnival is an unmissable cultural experience in the Caribbean. Celebrated with wild 24/7 parties, vibrant costumes, traditional music, and flavorful cuisine rooted in tradition, folklore, and religion, it offers a taste of the region’s rich heritage. However, Lexi recommends packing earplugs if you’re anywhere near an island during Carnival, as the festivities can be exuberant.
Embracing the vibrant Caribbean culture extends to savoring local dishes. In English-speaking islands, the ubiquitous roti, a wrap filled with curried potatoes, chickpeas, and a choice of meat or vegetables, is a hearty and affordable option. Meanwhile, in the French islands, accras, deep-fried doughy balls made from saltfish, offer a delectable taste of local cuisine.
When it comes to stunning landscapes and pristine beaches, Lexi highlights the Tobago Cays, Anguilla, St. Lucia’s Pitons, and Dominica’s untouched tropical rainforests as must-see destinations in the Caribbean.
Safety is a top priority for travelers. Lexi recommends embracing the relaxed pace of Caribbean life but also practicing caution, such as not leaving belongings unattended and avoiding displays of wealth. “Practical advice includes checking moorings, as some may be privately owned and poorly maintained, despite their appealing appearance.”
Community plays a significant role in sailing, and the Caribbean is no exception. Lexi describes the sailing community as tight-knit, quick to offer assistance, and a valuable resource for newcomers. She recommends cruiser’s Facebook pages and the Morning Net, an informal VHF radio show, as excellent ways to connect with fellow sailors and stay informed about community events, shopping trips, and local recommendations.
Lexi Fisher’s journey from childhood sailing in Grenada to becoming a respected writer specializing in Caribbean cruising guides is a testament to the transformative power of following one’s passion and embracing the opportunities life presents.
Her dedication to preserving and sharing the beauty and charm of the Caribbean with fellow sailors is an invaluable contribution to the sailing community, ensuring that adventurers can navigate paradise with confidence and joy.