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Old 17-10-2003, 14:18   #1
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Best of the Caribbean?

I've been lurking at this site for many months, now, waiting for more information about where to go and where to stay in the Caribbean. Finally, I am going to try to kick-start this section. I have only a year to prepare before I leave Canada and had south for at least 6 months. Where should I go? C'mon you guys - share the info.

Where are the best places to hang at anchor for weeks at a time? Where should I go for cheap entertainment? What about best grocery shopping? Where for friendliness? Where is it too crowded?

I hear Grenada and the Grenadines are the safest during the summer and fall, as the hurricanes usually curl further north. Opinions?

I have enjoyed the BVI on many occasions, but have to say it is a little expensive ashore. Are there better areas?

I spent a New Years in behind Green Cay, St. Maartens, at the nudist colony. That was fun. Everybody was elegantly undressed. Is it still being run?
The Christmas winds made almost all anchorages in St. Maartens, St. Barts, and Anguilla very uncomfortable for the Hinterholler we had rented. How did you find it? Where was better?

Where is the one place where I shoud stop for at least 2 weeks and veg out?

What was your best time and why?

Let's get going here! While we're young!
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Old 19-10-2003, 14:48   #2
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My 2 cents

Personaly I prefer the coast of Central America over the Islands although I am sure many will disagree.

I find the recepiton seems to be better in areas that are not so overrun by North American tourists, and for a cruiser you can not beat the prices for food and beverages. Repair items are hard to come by most places, although in Panama and Costa Rica you many times can have a part made at a local machine shop at great rates. Belize is pretty in the islands and Cays, but Belize city is a place to go only if you have to. Ditto for Colon (Cristobal) in Panama. Colon is dirty and dangerous, with a minimum of sailing items, although there is a GREAT sailmaker there with fantastic prices. If you have to go anywhere in Colon, either take the boat into the Panama Canal Yacht Club (Usually space on the wall with a med moor) or anchor in "The Flats" on the canal approach, and dink to the Yacht Club. (About a long mile) From there, get one of the local Taxi drivers to take you where you need to go. Do NOT walk out of the Yacht Club, and it is better not to walk in Colon at all. The taxi guy will know where you need to go if you tell them what you want. It is only about $25 to taxi to Panama City on the west coast, A much better source of hardware and rigging materials, and very safe for the most part. Remember your not in Kansas anymore Toto.....

Favorite spot is Bocas del Toro Panama. Starting to build up, but still quiet clean safe, and recently a number of good places to eat, and wash the salt out your butt. Cheap too. Minimal hardware but good supplies of food, fresh and otherwise.

Hope this starts some comments, we will be sailing out of Charleston SC in early Nov for Bocas via Turks and Cacos / Jamaica / San Andres.

Fair Winds
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Old 22-10-2003, 19:00   #3
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I've been down in the area of the Genadines and can't say enough good about the area as a whole. Far less crowded than the BVI's. Very beautiful place with nice people and unspolied beaches and all that good stuff. Anyone should try to get there if possible.

As for hurricanes. having been just been nailed by Isabel here in southern VA where we generally don't get hurrincanes as they tend to veer to the east before they get here. I'm not so sure I would accept that as an approach to avoiding hurricanes. You really only need to miss once for the ride of a lifetime. You really need to be farther south to avoid a hurricane in the prime months.
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Old 23-10-2003, 04:50   #4
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Best of the Islands?

SONOSAILOR:

Starting out from the North Atlantic, as you will (Fredericton), you’ll have the opportunity (obligation ?) to transit the entire Carribean as you head South towards 15 degrees Lat (the approximate hurricane-free line). BTW, I think that Granada and the Grenadines are usually considered safe summer locations, though Trinidad or Venezuala might be preferable for other reasons.

One of my cruising imperatives is that “there is NO schedule” and Plan ‘A’ is ALWAYS backed up with plans b through Z. Accordingly, I would not worry too much about pre-determining suitable lay-over locations. The Islands are absolutely full of great places to spend a week or two (or more), and you will discover your favorites as you reach them.

I suspect, that if you desire a June/July arrival, South of 15 degrees, your problem will become making miles. Unless you are relentless in covering ground, there just isn’t enough time to do the Islands any sort of justice, in a single season.

Maggie & I started out (1992) on an intended circumnavigation, with friends waiting for us in Australia (“Dawn Flight”). It was my lifelong dream to sail the South Pacific. One morning, after 5 months of covering ground, we woke up and decided not to pull the anchor and head on to paradise. We were IN paradise - Staniel Cay, Exuma, Bahamas)! We spent the next several months, dawdling about The Bahamas, eventually getting beat up in the “Storm of the Century” (March ‘93); and returning to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to re-fit & recoup.

This marked a radical change in our plans. We decided that we could spend YEARS in the Bahamas and Leeward Islands (not mention the Windwards), and still not see/do everything appealing. We lost the desire to merely “make miles”, and decided that every day should be a vacation, and we would take the time “stop & veg’ out” often.

I truly admire those that accomplish long-distance passages. These passagemakers are true adventurers, and we would have joined their ranks had we only begun earlier.
Passagemaking is not, however, the only way to enjoy the cruising lifestyle.

Some of my favorite places?
Norman’s and Staniel Cay(s), Bahamas (almost anywhere in the Exumas)
Georgetown, Bahamas (for the Out-Island Regatta - not the Cruisers Regatta)
Cane Garden Bay, BVI
English Harbour, Antigua (Race week)
Take a look @ Dave Gibson's photo "Frangipani Silouettes" (Admiralty Bay, Bequia) - and tell me that's not worth a stop!

There's a million of them!

Regards,
Gord
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Old 29-10-2003, 04:53   #5
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Keep it coming...

Great. This is the info I have been waiting for!

Please keep it coming.
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Old 31-12-2003, 10:13   #6
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Cruising Guides to Carib

Sticking with this thread, what particular guidebooks ( or types) and charts would you consider a must for a fairly complete trip from St Maartens to Grenada?
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Old 02-07-2006, 13:50   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pblais
I've been down in the area of the Genadines and can't say enough good about the area as a whole. Far less crowded than the BVI's. Very beautiful place with nice people and unspolied beaches and all that good stuff. Anyone should try to get there if possible.

As for hurricanes. having been just been nailed by Isabel here in southern VA where we generally don't get hurrincanes as they tend to veer to the east before they get here. I'm not so sure I would accept that as an approach to avoiding hurricanes. You really only need to miss once for the ride of a lifetime. You really need to be farther south to avoid a hurricane in the prime months.
Since Trinidad is only 80 miles south of Grenada, it seems to me that as long as one keeps themselves and their boat ready to up anchor and head south quickly, it's not very risky to be in the Grenadines during huricane season. Of course everything's relative, and it's always important to monitor storm tracks, but would anyone fault my thinking on this?
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Old 02-07-2006, 14:01   #8
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Originally Posted by Sonosailor
Sticking with this thread, what particular guidebooks ( or types) and charts would you consider a must for a fairly complete trip from St Maartens to Grenada?
I've heard that the BEST charts for this area are those published by Imray-Iolaire, even though they seem more expensive than others. I recently obtained some of these charts and I am impressed with their construction (seems like very durable, maybe even waterproof, paper) and the color scheme and legibility. Of course I have not yet used them.

As for cruising guides, the most current are those published by Chris Doyle. He has one for the Leewards and one for the Windwards. I think Steve Pavlidis may have recently published guides for this area as well. I have samples of both... they are very different. Pavlidis' might be more accurate from a navigation point of view, but in this area that's not as important as in the thinner waters of the Bahamas. Doyle's seem to be perfectly adequate from a navigation point of view, but may have more info for shoreside stuff.

There are older guides from Wilensky and Street, but they are so old that they are probably only useful as secondary sources.
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Old 02-07-2006, 14:15   #9
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The Virgin Islands are so crowded most of the time, I would plan on spending minimal time there. The only reason people go there anymore, IMHO, is that the sailing and navigation are really easy, and it's a great introduction to cruising in the tropics.

Have not been to the Leewards yet, but I have been to the Windwards and highly recommend Bequia and Tobago Cays.
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Old 05-07-2006, 20:16   #10
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One of my favorites! St. Vincent and the Grenadines...
http://www.sailing-advisor.com/stvin...renadines.html
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Old 06-07-2006, 05:45   #11
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Island veg

We have spent almost 4 years in the southern Cribe and have learned one thing. No one can tell you the best places to veg. People can give you ideas but it will be you that will find the best places.

Many told us that the Tabago Cays was the greatest place in the Caribe. So we went there. It was ok, not great. Full of charter boats, very crowded, nosiy, busy, losts of litter, and the coral was in bad shape. We didn't could wait to leave. BUT many of our friends go ther eevery year cruising through the islands and think it is great.

We cruiser Bonaire for what we thought was 2 weeks and ended up staying for 3 months.

My recommendation is to read about the islands and but don't discount any that you think will not meet your expectation and don't over anticpate. You are in a foreign country and they do things different. But once you get into the flow of absorbing the local view your most favorate island will be a suprise.

We recommend Venezuela outislands and Bonaire. No charters, minimal people and some of the most bueatiful scenery in the Caribe with few other people around.

But that is just us
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Old 26-07-2006, 19:12   #12
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I'm Baaaaack!!

It was a great trip. Thanks for the advice, and you were right - there are many great places, and it is a very subjective question.

We enjoyed partying in the BVI, but enjoyed White Bay in Jost Van Dyke the most there. St. Maarten was good, but the Simpson Bay crowd seem to be old partying Buffett wannabees. Orient Beach and Tintamarre kept us there for a while going down and coming back up. Best snorkelling is by the Bat Cave, Souffriere, St. Lucia. Nicest time was with new friends at Conception Island, Bahamas; but you can only do that when the wind stops dead for 3 days. Biggest surprise was Tobago Island, where the locals respect each other and their guests (us), we enjoyed beautiful countryside and birds, and they refuse to litter.

Chaguaramas, Trinidad, has excellent facilities, suppliers, contractors and really nice people, although the water is cloudy and litter piles up.

Every place we made a friend was special, though; and no place was that difficult. We are back at work for two years, then we head back down.
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Old 26-07-2006, 21:01   #13
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Chris Doyles guides are terrific

English Harbor is a lovely plave to hang if you like to meet lots of yachtspeople and see gorgeous yachts... and all services and spares can be found.

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Old 27-07-2006, 05:35   #14
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I found English and Falmouth Harbours to be expensive, and felt that the stable, rich population had no need for new friends. I did enjoy the locals at a few inexpensive restaurants further away from the water, and even found a good roti for 8 EC$. The walking trails and yachting history were enjoyable too.
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Old 27-07-2006, 05:59   #15
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Welcome Back, Cat Tales. We followed your trip back up the islands daily, just missed you in Orient Bay this year, visited with CanKata for a bit. We are headed south next year, just in the process of refitting our Morgan 38 for the trip. We certainly learned lots from your experiences. I grew up in Saint John, lived in New Maryland for 4 years, I recognize some of the people you mentioned in your blog, so we seemed somehow connected.

Hope to see you in the Caribbean in a couple of years!

John in Halifax
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