Summer in the Islands
If you’ve assumed that summer is a particularly sleepy time in the Caribbean, you’d be wrong. In an effort to attract tourists in the low season, many of the islands have come up with festivals, concerts, and other events; it’s a great way to get a taste of island life. It will take some Web browsing to find out what’s going on, or you can check with your charter company.
Here’s an idea of the special events scheduled in the British Virgin Islands this coming summer: July 2–3, Firecracker 500 Regatta & Chili Cook-Off, Tortola, to support Kids and the Sea Program (KATS); July 3, Fisherman’s Day, Tortola, including a fishing tournament, log-boat racing, music, and a barbecue at Long Bay; July 28–August 12, BVI Emancipation Festival, Tortola; August 7–8, Festival Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, Tortola; August 10–12, Carrot Bay Cultural Fiesta, Tortola.
Once you’ve read “Into the Blue” (page 58), Dan Dickison’s account of cruising with kids in the Exumas, you’ll want to be there too. You can sign up for a crewed charter, but there is one—from the looks of it, only one—opportunity to bareboat. Ben Grehan, charter manager for Florida Yacht Charters, told me that occasionally charterers are permitted to sail to the Exumas from FYC’s base in Abaco.
It depends, Ben says, on the skipper’s demonstrated expertise, the time of year (summer), and the length of the charter (many a cruiser has been stuck waiting for a weather window). If you’re interested in exploring this possibility, call Ben at 800-537-0050.
Another option for sailing yourself to the Bahamas is to head for the Bimini Islands from a Florida base; Fun in the Sun Yacht Charters (800-327-0228) and Florida Yacht Charters allow qualified charterers to make the 8-hour overnight passage across the Gulf Stream and spend a week exploring the Bimini chain. Both companies will read your sailing rsum very carefully.