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Go Back   SailNet Community > Out There > Destinations > Caribbean > Caribbean Islands > Caribbean advice
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Thread: Caribbean advice Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
08-06-2014 11:26 PM
dinghygoddess
Re: Caribbean advice

St. Thomas airport is small, your grandchildren cannot get lost or confused. It's also US so the immigration paperwork nonsense will not be an issue. You can then quickly hop to St. John or go east to the smaller BVIs such as Guana. White Bay is desolated. Your grandchildren can have an entire beach to snorkel, throw a frisbee or frolick in the water. We were just there for a few days. Two other boats at most for the entire time.
03-10-2014 05:42 PM
Yachtjuno
Re: Caribbean advice

We anchored in Fort de France at carnival time (which was amazing) in Martinique and drove to the windward side. If you have a shoal draft boat and are feeling brave there are some anchorages but its pretty hairy!

How come no-one mentions St Barths? We loved it. Not cheap i guess but for a visit for a couple of days it very cool.
01-12-2013 09:49 AM
DRFerron
Re: Caribbean advice

I'm moving this thread to the Destinations - Caribbean forum.
01-12-2013 12:24 AM
hannah2
Re: Caribbean advice

Again thank you all for your advice. Billyruffn, that was great of you for your detailed information. That was my plan to head for Panama as you advised. Looking at the Christmas winds over the last few days shows 30 plus knots with that high over the Great Lakes. I have no need to go to the ABC's.

As for the grand kids I'll make their mother come along she can make her husband take care of the cattle. That will take care of any airport potential problems.

Thanks

Cheers.
01-11-2013 11:17 PM
billyruffn
Re: Caribbean advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by hannah2 View Post
I noticed that the windward side of Martinique has a lot of bays inside the barrier reef. Looks a lot like the S. Pacific Islands. our SV is aluminum centerboard and we draw 1 meter. Have any of you spent time on the windward side of Martinique? I read it can be done if you know what you are getting into.
Never been there and don't know anyone who has -- and as I said in an earlier post I've spent 4 seasons in the Eastern Carib. From my overland trips to the windward side of several islands my guess is that most of these bays probably aren't suitable for cruising boats and are accessible only by exposing yourself to a bash to windward in getting there. Bear in mind that in Carib sailing the windward side of islands routinely experience trades of 20-25 kts. It's one thing to sail in the trades with the wind on or abaft the beam, but bashing into them to get to the windward side of an island and then finding your way through a reef to shelter in a spot that probably has the look and feel of a similar bay on the leeward side of the same island......well, it's probably not worth the effort. In short, there are lots of places on the leeward side of islands or in areas that don't require a big beat to windward. In my experience most cruisers in the Carib stick to the leeward side of islands.

One of the issues you'll deal with moving up or down the island chain in the Caribbean is the acceleration of wind velocity when moving between islands. This is especially true with islands with big mountains near their N and S coasts. The islands create a Venturi effect between the headlands on the north and south coasts of two islands. To get to the windward side of an island you often need to beat into 25 or more knots of wind in seas created over a 2000+ mile fetch. Not a lot of fun, believe me.

If you want to see the windward side of Martinique, rent a car.
01-11-2013 06:25 PM
-OvO-
Re: Caribbean advice

If the kids have to travel without an adult, there aren't many reasonable options. I think St Thomas is your best bet, with Puerto Rico a close second. But I would check with the airlines to see if they would allow unaccompanied minors on international flights, and if STT and SJU qualify as international for these purposes. I certainly wouldn't expect a 13-year-old to be able to shepherd two younger siblings through immigration coming and going, if anything, anything at all, went screwy.
01-11-2013 04:25 PM
billyruffn
Re: Caribbean advice

I've spent 4 winters in the Eastern Caribbean and have seen most of it. Faster and Mark in their posts above offer good suggestions. Antigua is a great island with the best parts IMO being English Harbor (home of Nelson's Shipyard) and Nonsuch Bay, a fairly remote spot on the windward side sheltered behind a reef. The French islands are nice and very cosmopolitan by Carib standards. Our favorite spots in the French islands include Iles de Saintes and some of the bays south of Fort de France on Marintique. If you're looking for some city life Fort de France (Martinique) and Point-a-Pitre (Guadeloupe) are good choices, but are lacking somewhat in "island" atmosphere. Sint Maarten (Dutch)/St. Maritin (FR) is a good stop and as mentioned the marine trades available there are very good. The Dutch side offers easier anchoring (Simpson Bay Lagoon) and is a bit over-developed IMO having much less charm than the French side. There are places in Sint Maarten where you think you're in the US.

Re routing for young travelers from Wyoming -- they will have to change planes somewhere. They can probably get direct flights to many major islands from Chicago and many more islands from Miami / Ft. Lauderdale. Flying through San Juan presents even more island destination options with the major US airlines and is an easy connection to places like the US and BVI. Islands where it might be difficult for you to get to the airport to pick them up would be anywhere in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica, the airport on the south side of St Lucia, anywhere in Martinique except Marin and Fort de France, anywhere in Guadeloupe except Point-a-Pitre and anchorages on the east and south coasts of Puerto Rico. Among the easiest places in the Caribbean for meeting arriving crew are St. Thomas, BVI (Beef Island), Sint Maarten, Antigua, Point-a-Pitre, Fort de France and Castries in St. Lucia.

Although probably not your first stop in the Caribbean, I encourage you not to overlook the US Virgins, which are a great place to have kids visit -- and especially St. John. If I were picking one place for grandkids to visit and I wanted to be sure they had a nice tropical experience, it would be St. John. You'll will find very few places in the Caribbean prettier and more restful than the bays on the north side of St. John and few places as unspoiled as those on the south side of the island. All the major bays on St. John are in the national park, all have high quality moorings at reasonable prices ($15/night), most have great sandy beaches, there are great walks to take ashore and, best of all, much of the island is still in a natural state. On the other hand, St. John is American, tropo-American yes, but you know you're in the US. If it's the true Caribbean cultural experience you want them to experience you can hop over to the BVI. Downside of the BVI is all the charter boats. Connections into and out of the US/BVI easy via the San Juan and there are more and probably better opportunities for varied day sailing in the US and BVI than you'll find anywhere else (except perhaps the Grenadines).

Stopping in the VI also sets you up nicely for the trip to Panama. The passage from the VI or eastern Puerto Rico to Colon is not difficult -- 6-7 days in the trades. Starting from there (vs the Windwards) shortens the passage somewhat and gives you an opportunity to avoid the windy zone usually found 25-150 miles off the Columbian coast. This is an area where the winds are sometimes near gale force and the seas are among the largest in the entire basin. (See the Caribbean pilot chart). If you were to take a course that runs from the USVI to about 14N 77 30W and from there direct Colon you can avoid the area mentioned above.

Good luck and have fun with the grands.
01-11-2013 03:07 PM
Faster
Re: Caribbean advice

The boat we've cruised on down there had a 7 foot draft.. the windward side of Martinique never came up.....
01-11-2013 01:31 PM
hannah2
Re: Caribbean advice

Thanks for all the advice. Last night I did my home work and everyones ideas look good.

Lot can change in a years time but thinking of making land fall in Martinique then moving up to Antigua.

I noticed that the windward side of Martinique has a lot of bays inside the barrier reef. Looks a lot like the S. Pacific Islands. our SV is aluminum centerboard and we draw 1 meter. Have any of you spent time on the windward side of Martinique? I read it can be done if you know what you are getting into.

Cheers
01-11-2013 11:17 AM
denverd0n
Re: Caribbean advice

If easy air travel from the U.S. is a top priority, then I would suggest Puerto Rico as the best, USVI second, and Antigua third.

First off, it appears that if they fly from a Wyoming airport they will have to connect through Denver, so it might be best if they catch the flight in Denver. My relatives in Cheyenne pretty much always drive to Denver before flying anywhere, but then I also have lots of relatives in Denver, so the Cheyenne contingent can always find family to visit and stay with if they want.

There are lots of flights to Puerto Rico from Denver with only one change, usually in Miami. St. Thomas, USVI can also be gotten to with only one change, but there aren't as many flights and they're a little more expensive. Antigua can also be gotten to with only one change, but there are even fewer flights than for STT and they are even more expensive.

The other suggestions are beautiful places to visit, but they will all require the grandkids to make even more plane changes, in small airports, where I, personally, would be concerned about the assistance and attention they would get from the airport personnel.
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