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Old 06-11-2013, 08:55   #16
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Re: How crowded is the Caribbean?

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Like the OP I'm curious to learn how you, belizesailor and colemj, avoid the crowds.
I love this picture. Looks like colemj has it all figured out.
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Old 06-11-2013, 09:08   #17
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Re: How crowded is the Caribbean?

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Like the OP I'm curious to learn how you, belizesailor and colemj, avoid the crowds.
We don't go where the crowds are.

It is surprising the number of cruising boats in the Caribbean that purposefully bunch up in crowds. They plan daily group activities and tours and potlucks, etc. Many of them even plan group movements to other anchorages - planning specific "anchor up" times (announced on the radio via a count-down in the morning), where they are all bumping about trying to get out of an anchorage en mass, along with announcing the minimum speed necessary to get to the next anchorage in time. We often watch the "group organizer" get in a dingy at the destination and assign anchorage spaces to the boats coming in!

We avoid all of this like the plague.

There is now a guide book of the San Blas with very accurate charting of some of the more remote anchorages. This has made it difficult for us at times to be completely alone, but even with this tremendous help, most of the grouped boats won't go in them without a "leader" taking them there.

The Bahamas are the same, BTW - boats all bunched in a few places with lots of options outside of those until "rally leaders" organize group movements.

The Eastern Carib is simply so crowded and full of charter boats and beach bars that it is very difficult to find any place alone.
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Old 06-11-2013, 09:40   #18
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Re: How crowded is the Caribbean?

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It is surprising the number of cruising boats in the Caribbean that purposefully bunch up in crowds. They plan daily group activities and tours and potlucks, etc. Many of them even plan group movements to other anchorages - planning specific "anchor up" times (announced on the radio via a count-down in the morning), where they are all bumping about trying to get out of an anchorage en mass, along with announcing the minimum speed necessary to get to the next anchorage in time. We often watch the "group organizer" get in a dingy at the destination and assign anchorage spaces to the boats coming in!
This sounds like a nightmare Mark . But it also sounds like an easy thing to avoid ... unless they land on top of you in your secluded spot. This happened to us once up here. There is an annual cruiser's race called the Sonora. We were swinging quietly in anchorage when we spotted all these sticks on the horizon. An hour later there was 25 boats surrounding us, with music blaring and dingys zipping all around. We moved on early...

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The Eastern Carib is simply so crowded and full of charter boats and beach bars that it is very difficult to find any place alone.
I guess we'll be spending as little time as possible in the Eastern Carib.
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Old 06-11-2013, 09:48   #19
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Re: How crowded is the Caribbean?

Don't get me wrong - there is a lot to like in the Eastern Carib, just not solitude. I guess I'm happy to have done the whole chain once (have chartered there many times since 1990). The French Islands are marvelous for the food and wine and provisioning of such as well as the relaxed attitudes compared to the others. Dominica is a jewel that many pass by for some reason. The Grenadines are wonderful, although crowded.

But I would not cruise the Eastern Carib again. After 10 months, we were completely over them (actually, that happened after 3-4 months). That wasn't true for us for the Bahamas or the Western Caribe.

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Old 06-11-2013, 09:55   #20
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Re: How crowded is the Caribbean?

I anchored many times in the eastern Caribe all alone. There are a few anchorages near charter bases that get jammed up at times, but there are lot's of places that dont. If you go to the most popular places in the guide books there will be more boats. If you look the other direction there's a lot of open space!
Bahamas-lots of open anchorages
Turks and C's- nothing but open anchorages
DR- Limited anchorages, but some like the park have almost no one.
PR- Some spots, but limited on the main island.
Both Virgins-limited "alone time"
French Islands- alot of good space if you look
etc etc etc
Grenada- empty coves everywhere....
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Old 06-11-2013, 10:04   #21
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Re: How crowded is the Caribbean?

we cruised the western carib a couple of years ago from mexico to colombia then crossed over to the eastern carib and cruised from jamaica to trinidad and back to antigua --
in our opinion the eastern carib is packed and packs of boats moving enmass from anchorage to anchorage with the requist happy hour aboard this boat or that -- we tired to get away and on occasion succeeded but generally it did not take long for others to arrive
the western carib is less crowded and yea a lot of boats in the sb but at times we were anchored and we could see the next boat 1/2 nm away - and belize seemed to be empty and great crusing -- and we were in the sb for hurricane season but did a trip over to cartagena for a couple of months --
we had enough of the eastern carib and headed to europe -- now this is crowded -- but if we had stayed in the carib we would have gone back to the western carib

just our opinion and thoughts
chuck patty and svsoulmates
in port yasmine hammamet tunisia for the winter
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Old 06-11-2013, 10:32   #22
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Re: How crowded is the Caribbean?

We spent 3 years in the E. Carib (1 year San Blas, and now in French Polynesia), and I do think there are plenty of places to hide from the crowds in the E Carib. Yes, it will be different then the popular anchorages, but that is the reason for looking for more off the beaten places. The Eastern San Blas are great, but very off the beaten, no beach bars, chandlers, stores, boats, etc (which is what we were looking for when we arrived). If you don't want the crowds, you are usually in places without services, which for us is fine, but perhaps for most E. Caribbean cruisers it is not what they look for.

Here are some bays we spent weeks alone in the E. Carib (not giving full locations, you have to go do your own homework).

Petit Martinique
Anse La Roche
Saline Island
NE lagoon area of Antigua
Friars Bay (this one is in busy St Martin)
Happy Bay
Roseau
East coast of Martinique (need good weather, but exceptional)
Friendship Bay

(this is the short list)

I just don't think the E. Carib is as bad as everyone makes it out to find quiet places (you just have to look a bit harder). Yes, most anchorages are busy, but with that, lots of convenience. And there are plenty of places to go hide out for a while and enjoy solitude. Look on the charts, not just the cruising guides. Like the Bahamas, most follow the same route, and visit the same bays, because that's what the guides tell you. It's up to you where you go and what you see while there.

Don't get me wrong, we love many of the places outside of the E Caribbean, mostly because of the "uncrowdedness". I just don't think the E Carib deserves quite the bad rap. Yes, if you want to join "summer camp" and hang out like it is in Georgetown, lots of opportunities, but in 3 years, we never did that, and had a great time in all the islands.
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Old 06-11-2013, 10:32   #23
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Re: How crowded is the Caribbean?

Thanks for the replies, it is good to hear that we can find solitude when we wish, just not the kind we're used to.

I spent a month in the Broughton Archipelago, (northern BC Coast) and went a little crazy after weeks of being completely alone and had to sail south to find human company. (May/June of this year).

No if it weren't almost snowing outside I might be content to stay and cruise here so we are going to "Snowbird" for a few years with Hurricane Season in BC and winters in the Caribbean.

BTW Anyone know what we should expect to pay for storing a 40' cat safely through the Hurricane seasons? Seems the PO was using a "Hurricane Mooring" and leaving the boat in the water full time. (Near St Maartin).
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Old 06-11-2013, 10:39   #24
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Re: How crowded is the Caribbean?

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BTW Anyone know what we should expect to pay for storing a 40' cat safely through the Hurricane seasons? Seems the PO was using a "Hurricane Mooring" and leaving the boat in the water full time. (Near St Maartin).
Don't know current prices, but would have never left the boat in St. Martin on a mooring during hurricane season personally. Head south, Grenada is very safe, and 2 yards and mooring balls abound to leave the boat.
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Old 06-11-2013, 10:42   #25
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Re: How crowded is the Caribbean?

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We spent 3 years in the E. Carib (1 year San Blas, and now in French Polynesia), and I do think there are plenty of places to hide from the crowds in the E Carib. Yes, it will be different then the popular anchorages, but that is the reason for looking for more off the beaten places. The Eastern San Blas are great, but very off the beaten, no beach bars, chandlers, stores, boats, etc (which is what we were looking for when we arrived). If you don't want the crowds, you are usually in places without services, which for us is fine, but perhaps for most E. Caribbean cruisers it is not what they look for.

Here are some bays we spent weeks alone in the E. Carib (not giving full locations, you have to go do your own homework).

Petit Martinique
Anse La Roche
Saline Island
NE lagoon area of Antigua
Friars Bay (this one is in busy St Martin)
Happy Bay
Roseau
East coast of Martinique (need good weather, but exceptional)
Friendship Bay

(this is the short list)

I just don't think the E. Carib is as bad as everyone makes it out to find quiet places (you just have to look a bit harder). Yes, most anchorages are busy, but with that, lots of convenience. And there are plenty of places to go hide out for a while and enjoy solitude. Look on the charts, not just the cruising guides. Like the Bahamas, most follow the same route, and visit the same bays, because that's what the guides tell you. It's up to you where you go and what you see while there.

Don't get me wrong, we love many of the places outside of the E Caribbean, mostly because of the "uncrowdedness". I just don't think the E Carib deserves quite the bad rap. Yes, if you want to join "summer camp" and hang out like it is in Georgetown, lots of opportunities, but in 3 years, we never did that, and had a great time in all the islands.
Yeah, I think there is a tendency to stay on a path and move on to the next "oft spoken of" anchorage while cruising down the Eastern Caribe. I'm certainly guilty of that along with most people I knew in the area. Once we had family fly in to Antigua and planned to move along to the next popular spot. While showing the chart to them my daughter said, "what about this little spot?". At first I was hesitant: "never heard of it". Long story short we went there, never saw another boat for 3 days, perfect anchorage with our own beach. You get what you ask for.... I think it was in NonSuch Bay just inside Green Island.... Meanwhile every cursier in the area is over at Nelson's Dockyard....
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Old 06-11-2013, 10:44   #26
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Re: How crowded is the Caribbean?

if you are carrying insurance your carrier will tell you how far down you need to go -- we have a couple of friends that leave their 40' cat in peakes yard in trinidad - out of the hurricane zone -- there is also power boats in trini along with coral cove -- all have out of water storage --
not sure i would want to keep a boat on a mooring in st martins but then again we are not normal and do not take a lot of chances

just our thoughts and opinions
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Old 06-11-2013, 10:45   #27
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Re: How crowded is the Caribbean?

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The pristine or Barbuda is a good example... It's great for a few days to chill out.... But their isn't really much to hold anyone more than a week.
Mark
We spent 4 weeks there one year, with 2 other boats coming and going over a mile away. We were quite content there, just depends what one is looking for.
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Old 06-11-2013, 11:47   #28
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Re: How crowded is the Caribbean?

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I love this picture. Looks like colemj has it all figured out.
This picture shows one thing that we are looking for after busy lives in the city, raising two boys, (now men) but as someone said "There isn't much to keep someone here for more than a week.:

This thread has became a valuable list of places and methods to seek solitude, can we also share knowledge about ... shopping in the markets, (pics?), or dealing with the governments, (and enforcers), going to church, getting involved in something culturally ... that kind of stuff.

I realize that all of this info can be found using search, I am hoping we can share in a more personal experience kind of way.

Thanks to those sharing!
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Old 06-11-2013, 12:29   #29
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Re: How crowded is the Caribbean?

This thread has became a valuable list of places and methods to seek solitude, can we also share knowledge about ... shopping in the markets, (pics?), or dealing with the governments, (and enforcers), going to church, getting involved in something culturally ... that kind of stuff.

wow -- let me see - first shopping in markets -- they vary from more than you can imagine to nothing until the next boat comes in - in the sb the veggies boats started coming around with some regularity - in the western carib we found good fresh veggies and chicken most places - some of what you gets depends on the season of the fruit - in the eastern carib it really varies by location some once a week some daily -- as for super markets boy that really varies from beautiful carrefour in the french isls to bamboo shacks in the sb and you stock when you see stuff as you never know the next time you will see one

Gov'ts -- to tell the truth we have never had an issue -- the worst we got it was when we went into puerto rico and homeland security and c&imm of the USA gave us real go around -- we treat the official with respect and dignity and they have responded in kind - the only place we were searched was in mexico, belize, and the DR and the USA - and they insisted that we go with them - the only thing took were all our fresh fruits and veggies in mexico and the USA - other than than nothing - just be patient and realize that you are a guest in their country and on their time schedule (not yours) and fill out the multiple forms - some with carbon paper -- kindness goes a long way -- we were never asked for a gift but we did give some through a 3rd party a couple of times
--not sure what you mean by enforcers? but never had an issue

church -- how well do you speak spanish - if in the eastern carib - some cruisers went when they could find one -- i use the internet and watch john hagee -- as i do now in tunisia - and tunisia does have a church that meets in hammamet that is 1/2hr by bus --

cultural -- hum -- what do you mean get involved? - we went to a girls hair cutting in the sb and it was suspose to be special - been there done that and won't do it again - but also got invited to help pull a new hand hewed canoe down from the mountain to the water in the sb - that was really special - went to samana santa in antigua in guatemala and that was simply outstanding -- sometimes we go through books like lonely planet and see what is going on and try to get there and see it - sometimes we just get lucky as in the azores when they had a week long festival for st john - boy was it fun - so sometimes we get lucky some times we plan to be there --

i hope this helps -- if not ask more questions

just our thoughts and opinions
chuck patty and svsoulmates
in port yasmine hammamet tunisia
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Old 06-11-2013, 18:15   #30
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...What about the influence of guide books? Does this create flocks of cruisers? It does up here. One basic strategy is to avoid anchorages that are recommended in these guide books.

....
Big influence I think. Especially noticed this in the Bahamas. Some cruisers there follow guides like a Bible. We found that one guide we had (forget the author) was exactly the opposite of what we liked, but that others followed it religiously. We started going to all the places they recommended avoiding...and four those to be our favorite places...and devoid of other boats.

So, investigating areas not recommended by guide books helps.
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