A sub tropical climate maintains even temperatures throughout the year, ranging from 19°C to 30°C during the day and 17°C to 21°C at night.
A sub-tropical climate keeps the azure waters warm year-round, ranging from 22°C in February to 28°C in August.
June through November is warm and humid with occasional thunderstorms and is considered hurricane season. As a result of the warm waters of the Gulf Stream winters are 10°C warmer than nearby Florida. High season is from November to mid April, when the weather is dry and comfortable.
The Caribbean is a great yacht charter destinations for beginner to experienced level sailors. The best time to charter a yacht and sail is during the winter months December to May, to avoid the hottest time of year and hurricane season. Hurricane season is typically August to November. A sailing license or certificate is not required for bareboat and flotilla yacht charters but you will be asked to provide a sailing resume. If you are on a skippered bareboat or cabin charter, you do not require any experience or certification to sail with a skipper.
|Bahamas/BVI||Great novice charter destination. Line of sight navigation and easy mooring at anchorages. Care must be taken for shallow water in the Bahamas.|
Antigua/St Martin/Cuba /Martinique
|Good intermediate charter destination, with seasonal variations. It is advised that you have experience with anchoring and mooring as conditions vary.|
|Some longer passages through Atlantic swell requiring knowledge of navigation, stronger wind conditions, leeway and deeper water anchoring.|
The Caribbean offers consistent easterly winds from December through June, known as the Christmas trade winds. You can expect 10-15mph winds that build in the afternoon and subside at sunset. The seas in smaller protected island chains such as the British Virgin Islands tend to have a wave height of less than one-meter. However, passages between major island groups have the full affect of open Atlantic swell and waves can range from one-five meters. Tides are minimal in the Caribbean ranging between 10-50cm.
Along the Bahamas and Caribbean archipelagoes there are many well-organized marinas offering berths and services ashore for yachtsman. There are also thousands of anchorages. In order to protect the marine environment from anchors, some areas provide mooring balls designed for different sized yachts. Sailors can tie off to these mooring balls and make payment to a local representative. Lines ashore are also used sometimes so boats do not swing overnight. In other cases private charter companies have installed mooring balls for their charter guests.
The Caribbean operates under region B of the international navigational system - red right return.
Is nestled halfway between the French islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique. Dominica has an incredibly rugged topography and has a third world feel to it. One of the more naturally interesting Caribbean islands, it is home to some of the last pure blood Carib Indians, two indigenous parrot species, dozens of waterfalls, a boiling volcanic lake, and the Cabrits National Marine Park. Dominica is the last of the Leeward Islands before the Windward Islands begin.
The first night can be a sleep over in the marina, but if there is time after unpacking and provisioning, sail passed the famous Diamond Rock, commissioned as the English warship HMS Diamond during the Napoleonic Wars. Your first port of call is Petit Anse D'Arlet where you can anchor and swim and snorkel. In the evening take the dinghy ashore and explore the charming little French Caribbean town. Dine at the superb Le Gormier restaurant that serves exotic Cr?ole meals. A specialty is the exquisite dorado (mahi mahi or dolphin fish) served in spicy sauce with wonderful local yams, sweet potatoes and plantains. After dinner, gaze up at the Caribbean stars from the bow.
Sail north along the coast of Martinique to the famous town of St Pierre. In 1902, Mount P?l? erupted sending a fireball of hot gasses down onto St Pierre. Thirty thousand people were killed in the disaster. Walking through the old town, trace the foundations of houses destroyed in the eruption. There is a museum, an old fort and a jail featuring artifacts from the time of the disaster, as well as a typical Caribbean open market. For the more adventurous, a hike through Mount P?l?'s tropical rain forest will introduce you to the local exotic plants and wildlife. There is also superb scuba diving on seven shipwrecks that sank in the harbor during the 1902 eruption. For those who just want to relax, you can swim in the bay or sun tan on the volcanic black sand beach. For dinner, sample more Cr?ole cooking at La Vague restaurant on the waterfront, which features special local seafood dishes.
The next morning, follow the coast of Martinique around to La Peric and cross the 26-mile channel to Dominica. This is a spirited sail for at least 4 hours. You will get a feel for the Atlantic swell and the famous trade winds as you are no longer in the lee of an island. Your destination is Roseau where you can anchor and clear customs. Moor at the Anchorage Hotel where you can decide on an incredible rain forest minibus tour, hiking, and scuba diving or simply relax by the pool. After enjoying some afternoon activities, enjoy an inexpensive meal at the Anchorage Hotel. Choose one of the boat boys and stick with him, he will help you with docking, get what you need in the way of provisions and land based services, and he will also guard your yacht while you are gone. It is not very expensive ($5-$10 for help with a mooring) but very important to select one boat-boy, otherwise they will all flock around your yacht. Once they understand that you are doing business with one individual they will all disappear.
Some of your crew can jump ship at Roseau for a land tour on Dominica and rejoin the yacht at Portsmouth or sail up the coast. The land tour can include a visit to the last existing Carib Indian settlement in the Caribbean, spectacular waterfalls (hot and cold), the Boiling Lake, Emerald pool and the Syndicate Forest. The rain forests are some of the last in the Leeward Islands and home to the endangered Sisserou and Red-Necked parrots. Full day land tours are around $70 per person and usually include lunch, a minibus and a government certified guide. The best anchorage at Portsmouth is stern-to at the Portsmouth Beach Hotel or on anchor at the Purple Turtle, two and a half miles across town at the safest weather anchorage in Portsmouth. In Portsmouth, you can walk around the very well preserved Fort Shirley, a veteran of the Napoleonic wars, then trek through Cabrits National Park. Another unforgettable experience is a dugout canoe trip up the Indian River or snorkel and scuba dive on nearby coral heads.
After breakfast, set sail on a beam reach to Les Iles des Saintes (6 hours) where you can drop anchor at Pain de Sucre beach for a swim and then moor for the night at Bourg des Saintes. Bourg des Saintes is a charming little village with sun-bleached red tile roofs and elegant balconies overlooking the quiet waterfront. The island Terre D'en Haut is small enough to explore by foot and has a number of attractions. Hike up to the well-preserved 1867 Fort Napoleon, where there is museum housing antique furniture and French naval artifacts. The best view of the island group is from Le Chameau lookout tower, which was built, in Napoleonic times. There are a number of great beaches both large and small scattered around the island. The choice of restaurants for dinner is almost endless - a mixed grill of seafood and meat along with tropical salad can be had at Restaurant L'Escale. Cr?ole dishes and poached fish are the specialties at Les Amendiers and delicious Caribbean style pizzas are offered at Pizzeria le Genois. These are but a few of the inexpensive restaurants found in Bourge des Saintes. After dinner sip a rum punch at a waterfront bar or the more adventurous can go on a night scuba dive.
The options are to stay in the splendor of the Saintes for another day or to continue to Base Terre in Guadeloupe. Base Terre is the best location to see more rain forests on Mount Soufri?re. Moor stern-to in the marina Rivi?re Sens and get to town by bus or taxi. It is a twenty-minute walk for those who like to hike and you can see Fort St Charles, souvenir shops and many restaurants. A minibus can be arranged to get up to mount Soufri?re from Base Terre.
Sail in the afternoon from the Saintes or Base Terre to Pointe Pitres. If you are sailing a one-way trip from Martinique to Guadeloupe, your destination is marina Port de Plaisance de Bas du Fort, which is the main marina in Pointe ? Pitre. Pointe ? Pitre is the most important town in Guadeloupe and is a twenty-minute walk from the marina. There are excellent shops and fantastic Caribbean architecture with gingerbread looking houses, intriguing archways and overhanging roofs. Dinner can be enjoyed in town or at the marina.