Skip to main content

Charter: Off the Beaten Path

Why not try something new by spreading your wings in St. Vincent?

Why not try something new by spreading your wings in St. Vincent?

So, you like to charter in the Caribbean with its warm waters, swaying palm trees, steady trade winds and strong rum drinks. What’s not to love? It can be easy, though, to get stuck in a rut when chartering year after year in the same place. Sure, the British Virgin Islands are always a go-to with short distances, plenty of infrastructures and easy sailing. But is it maybe time to branch out? Let’s look at a few candidates that will let you stretch your wings and your skills as you learn to navigate new waters that in many cases offer the same great benefits.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines

The Grenadines are a crescent in the Windward Isles where no two islands are alike. You can charter in St. Vincent and head south or start out in Grenada and head north. Many companies like The Moorings, Sunsail and Dream Yacht Charter offer one-way itineraries so you can do a leisurely week without having to rush back to base at the end.

Bequia offers a great mix of idyllic anchorages and boisterous bars. There’s also the “Bread Man” who will bring you fresh baguettes, croissants and banana bread right to your boat in the morning. The Tobago Cays are heaven on earth, with turtles and rays swimming by and outstanding beach barbeques done island-style. Union Island serves up great hiking and fantastic views as well as Happy Island in Clifton where you can dinghy to a tiny bar to watch the sunset. There are enough other islands in this beautiful chain that you’ll never get bored, even if you do a two-week charter.

St. Barths, St. Maarten and Anguilla

Three islands very off on their own are St. Barths, St. Maarten and Anguilla, a trio of destinations offering up a mix of experiences and nationalities. You’ll board your charter boat in St. Maarten, a spec of land divided into a French and a Dutch side, where you’ll find plenty to explore both on land and by boat.

Next, sail down to St. Barths and its glitzy shops and famous regattas. Don’t forget to check out St. Barths’ freaky small craft airport where planes buzz your head as they go in for a landing. For a complete change of pace, sail north to the British Anguilla with its pristine beaches and few crowds.

Antigua and Barbuda

The iconic English Harbor in Antigua is home to Nelson’s Dockyard, part of a national park and a UNESCO Heritage Site. It’s a historic district that’s named after Admiral Horatio Nelson and is also home to Antigua’s many yachting events. It’s a great place to stroll and explore the fort as you soak up island’s rich history. Antigua is steeped in British maritime past and is quite developed, so there’s plenty of nightlife as well as restaurants and shopping.

While you’re there, head to nearby Barbuda for a real change of pace. Unlike its more populous neighbor, Barbuda is less developed and focuses instead on natural beauty like its pristine beaches. You’ll find a frigate bird sanctuary, pink sand and caves to explore.

Virgin Islands

Don’t forget, there are other Virgins out there besides the BVI. Check out a boat in St. Thomas in the USVI and explore the mesmerizing island of St. John, most of which is a national park. From St. Thomas, you can also sail to the Spanish Virgin Islands, although you’ll need to get permission from the base in order to do so. (Lots of companies do business here including Horizon Yacht Charter and CYOA; you can also charter directly out of Puerto Rico with companies like Sail Caribe or Dream Yacht Charter.) More formally known as the Puerto Rican Virgin Islands, the Spanish Virgins consist primarily of Vieques and Culebra. Presumably, Christopher Columbus stopped at Culebra on his second voyage in 1493. These undeveloped islands form a camera-friendly wildlife refuge with ridiculous sand beaches you’ll never want to leave. The entire area is protected, and the snorkeling is sublime.

Sea of Abaco and Exumas, Bahamas

Finally, a bit to the north, but still considered a part of the Caribbean are the spectacular Bahamas. For a somewhat compact adventure, charter in the Sea of Abaco, a body of water almost like a tropical lake with mostly protected waters and easy sailing. You can also fly to Nassau and sail south to the exquisite Exumas chain. Although shades of blue here have to be seen to be believed, the water is shallow the coral heads plentiful. You may find yourself having to stretch your navigation skills, but it’s worth every minute of the learning curve. 

April 2022

Related

Rescue

Cruising: Safety Lessons Learned

It’s not often that sailors get a chance to put their rescue and MOB training to the test, rarer still that they do as quickly as newbie California sailor Khosrow “Koz” Khosravani did recently. If and when an emergency situation ever arises, though, it pays to be prepared. This ...read more

01-LEAD-'22.01.10_FALKEN-Maiden_Emma-Bow

At the Helm: Sailplans

The first thing you notice when you look at the sailplan for the Farr 65, Falken, which Mia and I recently added to the fleet here at 59-North, is the sheer number of headsails. Falken was built in 1999 as a racing boat to go around the world, and the crew would have carried the ...read more

01-PR-2-Throwing-it-Back-_©LaurensMorel

Racing Class Reunion

Where does an old VO70 go to retire? Right back to the racing circuit, apparently. This spring saw a remarkable contingent of Volvo Ocean Race one designs back on the water and duking it out on the Caribbean circuit. While it’s no surprise that some of the VO65 teams intending ...read more

05-Sailboats-moored-in-sheltered-waters-off-of-Kärrsön

Charter: Sweden

With 2,000 miles of coastline, 270,000 islands and seemingly countless bays and inlets, Sweden is truly a sailor’s paradise. One of the top sailing destinations here is the archipelago just outside the country’s second largest city Gothenburg (locally known as Göteborg), on the ...read more

fa70b13c-8eec-4c35-b30f-f89e497b469a

Crowdsourcing Age-of-Sail Weather Data

Although big, multi-million-dollar projects like the Large Hadron Collider and the human genome project with their legions of PHD’s tend to grab headlines, there’s still a part of play for the “citizen scientists” of the world. Amateur birders have long contributed to an ...read more

01-LEAD-Ultime-race-Yvan-Zedda,-OC-Sport-Pen-Duick

Ultims to Race Solo Around the World

For years now, maxi-trimarans, both solo-sailed and fully crewed, have been racing the clock on their own around the world in an effort to set ever faster records for the world’s fastest circumnavigation under sail. Back in 2000-01 there was also a no-holds-barred ...read more

P1-01-LEAD-018_CARYNBDAVIS_AMISTAD

Juneteenth on the Water

Discovering Amistad and Mystic Seaport Museum have partnered to organize their third annual Juneteenth festival, featuring concerts, speakers and a reflection on the lasting legacy of racial injustice in America. Declared a National Holiday in 2021, Juneteenth celebrates the end ...read more

Lead-2021-01-17-vue-03-34-av-tb-01

New Multihulls for 2022

Lagoon 51 In keeping with many of the more recently launched models created by French multihull builder Lagoon, the Lagoon 51 is all about comfort, “en plein air,” in particular, as the French might say. Topside, a whopping 80 percent of the boat’s flybridge is given over to ...read more