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Caribbean

Caribbean

Endless beaches, coral reefs, rainforests, music, dancing and rum. This is the Caribbean!

Endless beaches, coral reefs, rainforests, music, dancing and rum. This is the Caribbean!

Most yachtsmen sail in spring and autumn, and enjoy winter sports during the winter. However, the yachting break from autumn to spring is too long for some and they start thinking where they could sail in winter. One of the most visited “winter” yachting locations is the Caribbean Sea. Many Czech yachtsmen have already experienced sailing here and even more are now making plans to do so.

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Who is renting a yacht suitable for?

For families with children

Warm seas, beautiful, sandy, palm-lined beaches, crystal clear waters and lots of colourful little fish while snorkelling on the coral reef. This is the Grenadines, British Virgin Islands and the Bahamas—Abacos. Short distances between islands and beaches are ideal for family sailing holidays, especially when it is more about relaxation, sunbathing, swimming and diving than yachting.

For sports yachtsmen

You will particularly enjoy yachting with strong trade winds in the southern part of the Lesser Antilles or the Windward Islands. The passages between the islands of Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique, St Lucia, St Vincent and Grenada are around 30 NM, but if you opt for a sportier cruise, you can sail 100 NM, for example, on the ocean waves in strong trade winds on the windward side of the islands. The trip from Guadeloupe to Barbados is a strictly sporting, upwind affair.

For admirers of flora, fauna, and all things associated with tropical scenery

The Lesser and Greater Antilles are volcanic in origin and overgrown with lush vegetation and rainforests. Thermal lakes, waterfalls and inland lakes. Banana, papaya, avocado, pineapple, breadfruit and coconut palm plantations. Food grows on trees wherever you look.

For divers

The coral reef is a true diving paradise. Especially the British Virgin Islands and the Bahamas—Abacos, Cuba and Belize. Diving for both freedivers and scuba diving.

For senior citizens

An undemanding cruise, especially to the British Virgin Islands, the Grenadines and the Bahamas. If you have already rented a boat, a trip to Cuba is quite cheap. You can’t buy much on the islands and there is almost nothing there to spend your money on.

Thanks to steady trade winds, hot and stable weather, a large number of beautiful islands, lovely people, good food and great diving, the Caribbean Sea is the ideal spot for yachting. The best time to sail is from mid-November to the end of May. When it is cold at home, it is hot in the Caribbean, with reggae, cocktails, sandy beaches and palm trees, so why not set sail for exactly this location.

Caribbean Islands Caribbean Islands

However much time you spend here, you will never feel as though you have seen enough. The local coastline will enchant you with its white, pink, and black sand, and crystal clear water merging with the blue sky far off in the distance. But this is only the beginning of what the Caribbean has to offer.

On trips into the wilderness, you will come across countless places of natural beauty such as volcanic peaks, deep valleys, natural water springs, rainforests and even desert. Each island is unique. You will see British fortresses, Spanish cathedrals, or fortified harbours on almost every larger island. Remnants of the period before European colonisation are also here.

Areas for sailing in the Caribbean Sea

Grenada

The Spicy Caribbean. That’s exactly Grenada. A lush, green, mountainous island with a wild jungle interior and the true Caribbean life on the coast with the warmest seas and beautiful diving. The windward side of Grenada provides a rich underwater life on a coral reef. Grenada is more suitable for experienced yachtsmen and is ideal for one-way sailing to St Vincent or St Lucia.

Sunset on the island of Grenada Sunset on the island of Grenada

St Lucia

Diamond of the Caribbean. Volcanic island, rainforest, a boiling lake and thermal waterfalls. Permanent sweeping winds, unrivalled panoramas, picturesque harbours, inland voyages of discovery, friendly joints and Caribbean cuisine that will enchant you. Saint Lucia, with an area of 616 km square, has a population of 174 000. The head of this island is Queen Elizabeth II. The main export item is bananas, which suggests that agriculture is the second most important form of livelihood, right after tourism.

Experience the sweeping winds between the islands and ocean waves, or enjoy the tranquility of the windward shore, palm beaches, picturesque bars, and undemanding but exciting snorkelling. The ideal place to head out from to nearby islands such as St Vincent, Tobago Cays, Mustique, and many more.

Saint Lucia has a variety of flora and fauna. You might come across one of the 50 specimens of the Amazona Versicolor, or Saint Lucia Parrot, which almost became extinct in the 1970s due to the hurricanes that raged here at that time. Despite that, in some cases this parrot can even be bred in captivity, its price is incalculable. Because this species of the Amazona Versicolor parrot lives only on the island of St. Lucia, it has become its national symbol.

Saint Lucia Amazon—national symbol of St. Lucia Saint Lucia Amazon—national symbol of St. Lucia

Even nature lovers will find a lot to engage them here. In 2004, the two peaks of Gros and Petit Pitons were entered into the UNESCO World Heritage List. They originated 40 000 years ago and today make up the majority of a largely protected landscape area.

Discover the beauty of the island of St Lucia—Gros and Petit Pitons Discover the beauty of the island of St Lucia—Gros and Petit Pitons

Martinique

French culture in the Caribbean Sea combined with white-beaches and coral reefs, and the cradle of Caribbean rum. Sailing in the trade winds between tropical paradises. French civilization weds with authentic Caribbean culture. On Martinique, you will experience the undiluted Caribbean, without sailing out of it. If you do leave it, waiting for you in the south are Saint Lucia and Grenada, and the Dominican Republic in the north. Tropical islands straight out of the Pirates of the Caribbean. Don’t resist, and set sail. 

The catamaran is a popular boat in the Caribbean The catamaran is a popular boat in the Caribbean

Antigua

Antigua offers the perfect place to combine Caribbean parties, discerning sailing experiences, wildlife, and white sandy beaches (exactly 365 beaches on the island provide one beach for every day of the year). A warm sea and steady winds make Antigua the ideal yachting location.

The captivating beautiful landscape of Antigua The captivating beautiful landscape of Antigua

St Martin

Spanish-French influences, with a combination of Caribbean culture and the reputation of an island known as a place where you’ll experience a good party, make St Martin the ideal place to enjoy excellent Caribbean cuisine combined with live music and entertainment that you will simply never forget. The trade winds in the open passages offer exciting yachting for even very experienced yachtsmen.

British Virgin Islands, BVI (British Virgin Islands)

One of the most beautiful yachting locations in the world. A unique location in the Caribbean, providing yachting in a huge, enclosed coral lagoon. There are sweeping trade winds and, thanks to the coral reef, small waves offering easy sailing between islands just a few kilometres apart. This popular yachting location is so rugged that it can provide privacy for a large number of sailboats.

Cuba

Communism in the Caribbean has its own inimitable form. This open-air museum of socialism in this tropical paradise can perhaps only be understood first-hand, by someone who has lived in the communist regime. A unique destination with pristine seas, plenty of fish and a lack of restaurants. Cuba simply has fantastic, untouched nature that cannot be found anywhere else. Take a look at our boat rental offer in Cuba.

The capital of Cuba—Havana The capital of Cuba—Havana

The Bahamas and Abacos

Cruise from one beach with desert dunes to another in crystal clear waters. Undemanding yachting suitable for beginners with plenty of good anchorages. Ideal for an easygoing and relaxing boating holiday. Beautiful snorkelling in a shallow waters with abundant marine life.

Belize

Few people know that after the Great Barrier Reef, the coral reef around Belize is the second largest coral reef in the world. Belize, is an as yet undiscovered yachting paradise. This part of Central America is best defined by the words pristine and virgin. There are many low, palm islands and bars where you can order crayfish for the price of lamb in Croatia. Old Indian civilizations left traces of architectural monuments, hidden away in the surrounding primeval forests. In short, a land both exciting and unspoilt.

Weather and climate

The Caribbean lies in the area of the NE trade winds that bring relatively stable weather with them, apart from seasonal tropical storms. During the winter months, visibility is mostly very good. During the summer and autumn months  temperatures rise along with humidity and cloudiness, while heavy showers and storms are very frequent. The tropical season in the Caribbean is usually from June to mid-November, but in exceptional cases, tropical cyclones may even appear in May and December. The greatest danger of tropical cyclones occurring is in August, September and October. This period, averages around 12 tropical storms with wind force of 8 on the Beaufort scale (BFT) or more, half of them reaching hurricane strength. Visibility is frequently reduced due to frequent showers and occasional haze.

The Antilles Current flows in a NW direction on the Atlantic side of the Lesser Antilles and combines with the Gulf Stream north of the Bahamas. The strength of the current is between 0.5–1.2 KN.

Best sailing dates

The best time to sail is from February to May, which is high season in the Caribbean. November, December, January, and the start of June are also suitable times to sail. Mid-June to the end of October is hurricane season. You can also sail in the Caribbean at this time, but it is very hot and often rains. Of course you will need to monitor weather forecasts so that you are not caught unprepared for a hurricane, turning your relaxing cruise into a completely overwhelming, catastrophic adrenaline-filled holiday.

Winds

From December to May, winds blow steadily from a northeast direction, this time being the best for yachting in the Caribbean. Winds can be a very strong 5–6 BFT between the islands, so this is not yachting for beginners. In winter, systems of high air pressure often appear to the northeast of the Leeward Islands. If these get stronger, they can create sharp, easterly winds (known locally as the "Christmas Winds") with a force of 5–6 BFT (20–25 KN) and sometimes 6–7 BFT (25–30 KN).  In summer and autumn, the winds turn eastward, become unstable and weaken to an average of 3 BFT (7–10 KN) or less, and can blow from different directions. There is a high probability of tropical storms and hurricanes here.

Which boat is most suitable for sailing in the Caribbean?

Definitely a catamaran. The weather is always hot in the Caribbean and you will be spending most of your time on the upper deck. And you will find almost everything on the upper deck of a catamaran, except the cabins and toilets. You have a lounge on deck with a galley connected by large doors and a spacious cockpit. There is a lot of space there for sunbathing, including comfortable nets to lie on, between the hulls. The catamaran is simply the best choice for a relaxing sailing holiday in the tropics.

Anchoring

In the Caribbean, most wind usually blows from the same direction. Boats are equipped with good anchors and anchored often. You are either anchored at the beaches, or anchored bows-to, with your stern moored to shore with a long rope. In inhabited areas, a local will gladly help you moor to shore for a few Caribbean dollars. You must accept their help, as it is part of the local custom. If you refuse, you risk the local people’s disfavour.

What to look out for

Sailing in the Caribbean is permitted only during the daytime. Anyone who has seen the deep black darkness that takes over when there is no moon, understands the reasons for this very well. There are not many navigation lights in the Caribbean, and in fact, there are quite a few rocks and reefs which are at best marked with wooden stakes, these are invisible at night.

If you plan to sail near coral reefs, always sail when the sun is high and "read the water". Have someone at the bow, looking into the water and looking out to make sure there is enough depth. Don’t rely on maps, whether paper or electronic versions, near or around coral reefs.

Customs formalities

The individual islands in the Caribbean are usually independent countries. This means that when sailing between them, you must frequently register. And you really must register or risk a hefty fine and an unpleasant situation.

Gastronomy

The islands you visit in the Caribbean have for the most part, been influenced by American and French cuisine. On Guadeloupe and the surrounding islands, you can enjoy creole specialities such as Creole Sauce (sweet and sour) Boudins (small dark sausages), Accras (fried cod fritters), Boukit (a sort of fried sandwich), and Agoulou (a grilled sandwich mostly filled with ham, cheese, meat and eggs).

Bananas used for cooking are also a local speciality. A little larger than conventional bananas, these are fried and added to the main meal and known as "plantain" in French.

Everyone should take advantage of their time in the Caribbean by sampling some exotic fruit. What about trying some guava or passion fruit? We all know the mango, but it is much tastier in the Caribbean. Starfruit, though, is an almost unknown fruit to most—it is shaped like a star and the locals make a superb jam from it.

The Piña Colada in its natural setting The Piña Colada in its natural setting

Naturally, white rum is an inherent part of the Caribbean, the most celebrated being the rum of Martinique. This white rum has an alcohol content between 40% and 60% and this is why it is most often served in cocktails such as Piña Colada, Cuba Libre, and the very popular aperitif, Ti' Punch, which is white rum with lime and cane sugar. These are basically similar ingredients to those used in a Brazilian caipirinha, but how it is served is different. Don’t forget to try Planteur—a liqueur from white rum and the juices of several different exotic fruits.

Fishing

There are still a lot of fish in the Caribbean and a good fisherman can catch enough fish for the whole crew. Predatory fish are caught here on bait dragged behind the boat (tuna, golden dorado and so on). Harpooners can also enjoy some wonderful hunting here at the edges of the islands where sea currents provide a lot of nutrients and there are plenty of fish. But beware of the strong currents!

Charter companies

The article is being prepared.

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