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Old 27-01-2010, 06:11   #1
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Boat- and Life-Shopping in the Caribbean

I've got a friend who would like to visit the Caribbean to get a feel for the place, with the ultimate objective of buying a live aboard sailboat...and possible starting a new adventure there.

If you only had a couple weeks...what would be the best place to visit that would give a taste of that "Caribbean life style" AND have a large selection of used boats for sale?

What possibilities are there for reasonably priced accommodation?

Is now a good time to go?

Are there places that "Vat paid" would be accepted in Europe
Like some Guadalupe?...other.

My friend is European and may ultimately take the boat to the EU

Thanks for any help and advice you can give.
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Old 27-01-2010, 08:44   #2
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Well, from our experiences living in a small island nation for several years, you are asking some different questions there. For starters, "The Caribbean" is not really a 'place' like a single country. Or even a geographic location as coherent as Europe with all the easy borders. It is a conglomeration of different nations, in totally different political situations. Some were founded by English, some Spanish, some French, and some Dutch. Most are now independent. Some are still Territories of European nations and the USA.

And the typical Caribbean lifestyle is not really what you are going to find in areas with a lot of yachts for sale. For example, there are LOTS of boats in the Virgin Islands. You could check out the British Virgin Islands, specifically Tortola, and find a few boats for sale, and a somewhat Caribbean lifestyle, but it's a lifestyle largely dependent on the cruising charter company tourism industry. Is that what you are looking for?

You can get the Caribbean climate without the lifestyle, which may be whaat you are really looking for.

The tax situation for boats presently in one of the Caribbean countries will depend upon a lot of things. Martinique is French. The BWI and BVI are English. Puerto Rico and the USVI are American...
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Old 27-01-2010, 09:11   #3
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Thanks for that Canibul.

My friend is looking for a change in weather for sure...also an escape from the rat race....morning swims....plentiful and inexpensive fruit and vegetables at the local market....you know....the tropical island dream.

My friend is a realist and does know that all is not as seen on the post cards.....but is really looking for a change.

Thanks again Canilul ...this is a good start.
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Old 27-01-2010, 09:59   #4
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Well James, that is a difficult one. The best places for cruisers are the places where there are no hotels or International airports and the only boat for sale is the one of the couple that had a terrible fight last night...

But more important: the experience is totally different when you visit a place with your boat compared to staying at a hotel.

VAT paid means you must find a boat that has an original invoice that shows VAT was paid, or a VAT declaration for the boat from any EU government. It doesn't matter where you buy that boat.

I think Tortola, St Maarten and Trinidad are the best places to buy a boat in the Caribbean.

ciao!
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Old 27-01-2010, 10:54   #5
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Thanks Nick....nice to see you back.
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Old 27-01-2010, 11:17   #6
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Thanks Nick....nice to see you back.
Still defrosting ourselves after our trip to Holland over the holidays... ;-)

cheers,
Nick.
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Old 27-01-2010, 11:59   #7
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This time of year is still the peak for tourism in the Caribbean. Over the summer it is a less popular destination and the season for hurricanes - of course.
During the summer many boats move further south to places like Trinidad and the A, B C's (Aruba, Bonaire & Curacao) which are considered to be out of the usual hurricane track.
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Old 27-01-2010, 12:21   #8
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yep. Panama, too.
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Old 27-01-2010, 13:25   #9
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The difference between Trini / ABC's and Panama is that Panama is outside the hurricane belt, while Trini and the ABC's are just considered to be outside that belt by most insurance companies. You can find grphs on-line that show every known hurricane track and these show that Panama really is the single country that can be considered safe.

We were in the mangroves in Curacao when Emily came by (non event) but only closely escaped from Felix in Aruba! On the Atlantic coast of South America, a hurricane has hit Brazil south of the equator (first time ever that they recorded a South Atlantic hurricane) but most will pass north of Tobago. Some passed south of it though so how safe does that make Trinidad?!

cheers,
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Old 27-01-2010, 14:03   #10
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in almost 40 years of working offshore high tech this is the first time I have ever seen the NA described as the ABC's. Is this mainly a cruiser term? I have worked out of Curacao and Bonaire, years ago, surveying various things on the seafloor.

Learn something new every day.
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Old 27-01-2010, 15:08   #11
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Interesting. I've known them as the ABCs for years (20+ at least). IINM, they even had a tourism board that promoted them as such (to the dive industry) back in the 80's.
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Old 27-01-2010, 15:29   #12
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In Holland they are called (straight translation) the "ABC islands" because NA (Netherlands Antilles) consisted of 6 main islands: Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, St Eustatius (Statia) and St Maarten so spread in two groups of three main islands. Later, Aruba became independent of the NA (but still part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands). So, the ABC islands still pointed at that group of three. Now I don't even know what island is with who, I believe one or more are even Provinces of the Netherlands... but all six are still part of the Kingdom (they need the money and military for starters).
It must have been the English speaking sailors that started calling them the ABC's after hearing Dutch people talk about ABC islands (they tend to make things shorter ;-)

To make things more confusing, the Dutch call the ABC's the Leeuward Islands and St Maarten, Saba and Statia the Windward Islands. Basically, the other way around from the English. The reason is simple because looking from the ABC's, the other island are to windward and vice versa. I'm not even sure why the English do it the other way around, may be because they also drive their cars on the wrong side of the road ;-)

Curacao and Bonaire don't like each other much and neither likes Aruba ;-) This is possibly the reason they would not use the term ABC Islands. Curacao was the island with the NA government and all money was distributed from there... so it's only natural for the other islands to claim that Curacao was not distributing it fairly (and they were probably right about that too). When Aruba got out, jealousy alone was enough reason to not like that etc. etc.

ciao!
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Old 27-01-2010, 15:36   #13
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This might be a good question to bounce off Hud3. He's a Caribbean dweller and know his stuff!
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Old 29-01-2010, 07:13   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by James S View Post
...If you only had a couple weeks...what would be the best place to visit that would give a taste of that "Caribbean life style" AND have a large selection of used boats for sale?

What possibilities are there for reasonably priced accommodation?

Is now a good time to go?...
Hi, James.

I really have to echo what some of the other responders have said--it's going to be very difficult or impossible to do both in two weeks.

Boat shopping is best in St Martin/Maarten, the Virgin Islands, Trinidad, and maybe Antigua. The most laid-back, unhurried island life would be found on the islands that are less the tourist destinations--Dominica, The Grenadines, Nevis & Grenada, to name a few.

I really do think it would be impossible for someone to both boat shop and get a feel for what it's like to cruise long-term in the islands in such a short period of time. In fact, even if he spent the entire two weeks cruising on a chartered boat (with no boat shopping at all), he'd only be minutely scratching the surface. You need to be here for at least a few months to stop feeling like a tourist, to learn how to interact with the island folks that you'll meet, to experience the joys and frustrations of shopping for provisions, to deal with the varied needs of the boat, and to forge some relationships with fellow cruisers.

Cruising long-term or living in the Tropics isn't for everyone. Some people end up not able to deal with the time and effort it often takes to accomplish simple things, the frustrations of not being able to buy what you need, when you need it, unequal expectations held by each member of the relationship, lack of all the creature comforts and conveniences that are taken for granted in urban settings, etc. They end up bailing out and selling out, often at a financial loss and to the detriment of the relationship. Others are able to adjust their expectations and view of the world, focus on the unique positives, minimize the negatives, and end up loving it. Sitting in the cockpit, cooled by the Tradewinds with sundowner in hand, waiting for yet another Green Flash to appear makes up for a lot!

You mentioned that your friend is looking for a change. It would definitely be a change; I can guarantee that!
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Old 29-01-2010, 07:57   #15
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Thanks for that Hud...excellent!
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