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-   -   Which islands to sail??? (https://www.fodors.com/community/caribbean-islands/which-islands-to-sail-457085/)

kcapuani Jul 7th, 2004 07:48 PM

Which islands to sail???
 
My family and I are planning a bareboat charter, most likely with the Moorings, in the Caribbean next winter but are unsure of where to sail. It seems like our options are:
BVI, St Lucia, St Martin, Martinique and Grenada. Each island sounds like paradise so it is hard to decide. There will be 7 of us plus a 2 year old (so we need pretty calm waters). We are planning on snorkeling/diving the majority of the time. We'd also like the island(s) we visit to have good dining options. Shopping and history are of little importance. St Lucia seems interesting because of the rainforest aspect. Does anyone have any suggestions on which to choose? Also, has anyone had experience with bareboat charters, particularly with a toddler?

Thank you!

Callaloo Jul 8th, 2004 04:24 AM

Given your requirements/desires for calm waters, I would suggest either a sail in the BVI or in the Abacos (which you did not list, but may wish to consider, depending on when exactly you want to sail).

Our sails out of St. Lucia (March) and Grenada (December), while wonderful, have been rollicking, and some of the passages (St. Lucia to St. Vincent; Grenada to Carriacou) are full-blown bluewater sails. The hardcore sailors will delight in the 25 knots of wind and 6-12 foot seas as you beat upwind, but the more delicate crew members will not be so happy. The tradewinds were pretty cranked up almost every day, which meant rolly anchorages. (I've heard similar about St. Martin.)

While I've experienced challenging conditions in the BVI, they are the exception and not the rule. The waters are more protected and the anchorages closer together. The sailing conditions in the Abacos (Out Islands of the Bahamas) are, on average, even milder, and the water is the miraculously shallow, crystal blue that you only get in the Bahamas. The caveat with the Bahamas is that you may not want to be there if January/February if you are looking for really warm weather -- it may or may not be. The diving and snorkeling in the Abacos is excellent, and is great in the BVI as well.

Of all the islands you mention, I would say that St. Martin has the best cuisine overall (though I don't know how accessible it is by boat), and Grenada having the best local cuisine. In the BVI, everything is oriented towards the sailor, and you have many dining choices, with a few superlative spots; food in the Abacos is good if you like conch and fish (I do!).

A couple of great resources for bareboat chartering are www.traveltalkonline.com and www.sailonline.com. Also, I have trip reports at www.homestead.com/islandtime/MainPage1.html (BVI, Abacos, Grenada, Grenadines, Belize).

Diana Jul 8th, 2004 04:41 AM

What great info from Callaloo!

I would also suggest the BVI's/USVI's.

So much to see and do and a nice mix of food and cultures if you check out both BVI's and USVI's.

Super good restaurants and good snorkeling and diving.

My suggestions:

Tortola (probably pick up the boat there)
Virgin Gorda
Jost Van Dyke
St John

kcapuani Jul 8th, 2004 11:15 AM

Thank you both! It sounds like the BVI would be our best option with a jaunt over to STJ. We are all Caribbean novices so I think the BVI will be an excellent first vacation.

Diana Jul 8th, 2004 11:38 AM

I agree. It was one of our first Caribbean trips, and we went back last year ten years after the first one.

Not a whole lot had changed - to our relief - other than some villa construction on Virgin Gorda and Tortola.

I was not crazy about St John, but a lot of people just love it, and the beaches are undeniably gorgeous.

Have a great time!

curiousx Jul 8th, 2004 11:54 AM

Grenada northbound can be tough sailing, as Callalou says.

If you want to sail the Grenadines some day, my suggestion would be to do it Southbound (from St. Vincent) or start in the middle (at Canouan, where there is a Moorings operation). You will find lots of little islands and good anchorages within relatively short sailing distances of each other.

The Usual Suspects website is a mine of information on sailing in the Grenadines. Highly recommended.

Also, regardless of where you end up choosing to go, check out the electronic version of Caribbean Compass, a yachties-oriented paper distibuted in hard copy up and down the Caribbean. In the hard copy, the ads are as much fun to read as the articles.


Nancy1 Jul 9th, 2004 10:30 AM

Callaloo - where can we find the trip reports you mention? We're planning a charter to the BVI in January. Does anyone know if that time of year is a problem?

Callaloo Jul 9th, 2004 11:23 AM

My trip reports are at www.homestead.com/islandtime/MainPage1.html.

Also, be sure to check out the BVI trip report archives at www.traveltalkonline.com. There are TONS of them.

Maria Jul 12th, 2004 04:44 PM

kcapuani,

I echo the thoughts of many others...start in the BVI!! If you charter with Moorings out of Tortola you are not allowed to sail to ST Johns. Not to worry, you will have many fabulous adventures just seeing the BVI. We have done 3 annual BVI sails (the last 2 with trips to Anegada) and now we have moved to sailing the Grenadines (last year) and are planning a St. Lucia/Grenadines sail this year.

All fabulous! definitely check out the usual suspects web site and traveltalk online for lots of details.

I would be happy to supply lots of info on our favorite spots, restaurants, snorkelling, etc, if you want to email me directly.

Maria


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