Windward islands - vendors and winds a problem?
We're planning a Caribbean charter this winter (December) and were thinking for one-way St. Vincent to Grenada, but the wife (always blame it on the wife) is concerned about the number of aggressive "vendors" (people accosting boaters for services or to sell stuff) and the possibility of blustery/high winds around the north ends of the isnlands that time of year, both of which are described by Doyle in his guide.
neither really bothers me that much, but its everyone's vacation so if either were aweful we'd probably do the BVI or Leewards instead.
We've done BVI in January and one-way Antigua to St. Maarten before.
Any guidance out there?
thanks much in advance!
The vendors nowadays are a changed bunch, they are now called 'beach front service providers' [ not a wind up] so no worries on that front.
However at that time of the year there is always a possibility that the christmas winds will be blowing. These reinforced trades will give 20 -25 knots usually NE or ENE which will give you great off wind sailing conditions from SVG to Grenada. Tuck a reef in before you leave harbour and enjoy the ride.
SVG to grenada should be much better than the other way around. Yes, there might be relatively high winds, but you wont have to pound into them too much.
and yes, there are vendors but I always found them to be nice people trying to make a living. If you are friendly to them they will be friendly to you - and some of them provide a really good service - e.g. diesel and water come to YOU in the anchorage in Bequia. No surgy old concrete fuel dock. And in the Tobago cays they will bring you baguettes, croissants, bags of ice, whatever you want. They inquired if I wanted anything but I dont remember any of them getting aggressive.
We chartered from Grenada and up into the Grenadines last summer (cheaper for us credit crunched estate agents) - and whilst I can't comment on winter season winds, I can say that all of our encounters with the boat vendors were positive - but if we didn't want anything when approached we greeted them with "hi, how ya doin' :) " and only then politely advised that we had all we needed.
We had some useful anchoring assistance (although one inexperienced "vendor" took our buddy boat too near to the rocks where a wind shift would have been a problem) and the ice and banana bread deliveries in remote anchorages (eg Tobago Cays) were invaluable.
From what I have read before we went I believe that there has been a degree of education and improvement in customer relations, and that was confirmed by our experience.
Des in Clifton and Black Boy ("that's what my mother called me") in Salt Whistle Bay were 2 of our favourites, along with Sydney and Walter in Tobago Cays.
Have a great time, the Grenadines are a must do (much better than BVI IMHO),
We chartered out of St. Vincent several years ago and loved it. Went down to Union island and back. Much better than BVI. It was around mid December and the weather was perfect: 15 to 20 knots wind, not much rain, nice steady seas (though we rolled in each and every anchorage, as predicted in most guide books). The vendors (boat boys) were never a problem and quite often were a nice welcome for the convenience they provide. Security around St. Vincent can be a problem if one is not choosing his anchoring sites carefully, but once you leave St. Vincent it is never a problem. Make sure to stop in Mayreau and visit Dennis at his Hideaway (restaurant / bar / hotel). He serves some excellent local Jack Iron (amongst other fine things).
Enjoy the trip and fair winds.
thanks all for the great info!
i'll run it by wifey and see what she says [insert sound of cracking whip]
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