I consider the Caribbean like the Mediterranean
to be protected waters, and not blue water; although, some of my worse storms have been encountered in both. You do have recourse for seeking safe harbour that you don't have for Ocean (Blue Water).
Many French yachts were designed for the Medi and did not perform well on Ocean passages; however, owners were unaware of their yachts limitations. To this end Europe
set up standards to alert purchasers.
Since 1998, CE certification
is required for all recreational boats entering or being sold in Europe
obliging boat manufacturers to respect certain building and security
standards. Therefore, yachts ( boats ) are classified into four categories depending on their aptitude to confront navigational conditions taking into account both force of the wind
and height of the waves. The categories are not to limit the area and distance of navigation
(that is defined by security equipment
on board) but to sensitize the owner and/or captain
of the boats capacities to navigate in complete security.
Let us start with the Beaufort
Scale. A scale for classifying the force of the wind
ranging from 0 (calm) to 12 (hurricane). It was devised by an admiral in the British Navy
, Francis Beaufort
, to uniform the description of the effect of different winds at sea.
There is a direct link between the Beaufort scale and boat classification. For discussion purposes, we will use only the 6, 7 and 8 forces.
A Class A yacht ( boat ) is a vessel that is built to navigate the open ocean and surpass a force 8 on the Beaufort scale and surpass waves higher that 4 meters. These yachts are constructed to be self sufficient in hostile seas and be self righting.
A Class B yacht ( boat ) is a vessel built to navigate on the offshore waters (200 miles and less) and can sustain UP TO force 8 and waves UP TO 4 meters.
A Class C boat is a vessel built to navigate inshore such as lakes, rivers, bays and close to the shore and can sustain UP TO force 6 and waves UP TO 2 meters.
A Class D boat is built for protected or sheltered waters such as canals, rivers, small lakes and sustain a force 4 and waves UP TO .3 meters (less that 1 ft).
With this said, you can understand that the Class A yacht ( boat ) respects a rigorous building code more so than a Class B and so forth. But regardless of the class, it is strongly discouraged to navigate in a force 7 for the reasons of safety
and comfort as « pleasure » should always be on the agenda. Always consult the weather forecast
prior to leaving any port and check hourly the weather situation.
Classification is very important and should be on your question list before purchasing
any boat or yacht.
It should be said that nearly all French yachts required upgrading to attain Class A for Ocean; however, were satisfactory for the Medi.
To summarize the Caribbean is not considered Blue Water.