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Old 19-10-2009, 05:02   #1
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Caribe Advice for UK Yachtsman, Please

It's not much fun having a yacht in the UK at the moment. Mooring charges have never been higher, and now our currency becomes worth less by the day we can't even escape to Europe for a good deal.

I was lucky enough to have a couple of season on the USA NE coast three years ago, and it was excellent value compared with home.

I'm now thinking of the Caribbean, about which I know very little. Where do you base a boat (36ft ketch) that can be safely left for lengthy periods of time (ashore), presumably outside the hurricane belt? And where would you base a boat to give you that nice balance of good cruising and value for money?

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Old 19-10-2009, 05:41   #2
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Hello, oldvarnish, and welcome to CF. There are a number of members here with significant experience in the Caribbean, so I'm sure you'll get a lot of good advice. I'm going to assume you refer to the Lesser Antilles when you say "Caribbean", so if you're thinking about other areas, please let us know.

There are a number of possibilities for you, and the one you choose will depend on your preferences. However, for a location "outside of the hurricane belt", at least as most insurance companies define it, you'll have to go to Trinidad, the Dutch ABCs, or Venezuela. In the Lesser Antilles proper, you can find a number of boatyards that are capable of securing yachts for the hurricane season, either with straps attached to yard anchors, or with steel cradles. You can find these in the BVI, Antigua, St. Lucia, and Grenada. Others may recommend St. Maarten, but my own opinion is that for off-season storage, there are better options.

If I were in your position, I think my preference would be Antigua, since it is easily accessible by air from the UK, has several good boatyards, chandleries, marinas, a vibrant yachting community, and is well located in the island chain. I've kept my own sailboat in Grenada for one hurricane season, and in Antigua for two, and was very satisfied with each.

As a cruising base, Antigua is very well-positioned, as is St. Lucia. The boatyard at Rodney Bay, St. Lucia is less desirable than those that I've mentioned above, however. Their ability to secure boats with yard anchors was somewhat limited the last time I checked.
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Old 19-10-2009, 07:36   #3
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Big question!

West Caribbean is exceptional value, leave the boat on the Rio Dulce in Guatemala, a safe hurricane hole. At least one yard for storage.

Great cruising encompassing Belize, Bay Islands(Honduras), also 5 days to Cuba, Caymans etc...

In water berthing ranges from $125 to $300 a month.

Cartagena, Colombia has some haul out yards. Cruising area covers Colombian Islands, San Blas(Panama) some of the finest cruising in the world!
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Old 19-10-2009, 09:19   #4
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My boat is currently on the hard at Jolly Harbour, Antigua and is eagerly awaiting the end of the hurricane season. Up to now I've kept boats on the hard in the BVI but it is such a chore to get there while Antigua has nonstop direct flights from London, Manchester and Frankfurt, to name just a few. An overnight sail will take you to St. Martin or the BVI/USVI or south past Guadeloupe so it is ideally situated geographically.
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Old 22-10-2009, 18:11   #5
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oldvarnish if you are flying back to the UK, your direct flights will be from Antigua, St Lucia, Grenada or Trinidad. All four islands have good marinas and hard standing. Generally speaking the further south you are the safer you are going to be come hurricane season, and also the cheaper it becomes. Grenada is my choice. Plenty of hard standing, easy to get work done, nice anchorages, the Grenadines on its doorstep, plus it's a very welcoming island and you'll find the Grenadans delightful.
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Old 23-10-2009, 04:17   #6
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thanks everyone. Lots of good advice. I'm quite taken with the idea of Grenada as a base. If anyone else has something good or bad to say about it, I'd be pleased to hear.
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Old 26-10-2009, 03:20   #7
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Just spent a month there, good anchourages, nice people, and reasonably priced beer. The Big Fish bar in Prickly Bay has the international rugby games and I even went to a cricket match.

One of the chandleries, Island Water World, is run by a Brit called Johnathan who runs the daily cruiser's net weather report. The cruising community is very strong and mutually helpful and the repair service are very good.

You check in to immigrations and customs, who are vey helpful, at the St George's YC.

"Remember, experience only means that you screw-up less often."
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Old 26-10-2009, 11:58   #8
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Grenada has been our base for a few years now and can highly recommend it. We berth at Le Phare Bleu Marina at Petie Calivigny Bay and Island Dreams look after the boat. Le Phare Bleu Marina is a great base as it is tucked away from the main areas and is in a protected bay. They have fuel, a swimming pool, wifi, DVD rental, mini market (opening 2nd Nov), car hire office, chiropractor, Island Dreams yacht services, Palm Tree Marine, The Canvas Shop and 24hr security. Oh, plus a webcam so we can dial in and see the boat whenever we get the blues from being in the UK. The Happy Hour is a must in our daily routine 5-6.30pm. Island Dreams have been really good regarding the guardianage and Mark & Anita work hard keeping all their owners happy, even the disorganised ones! We hauled out in Grenada Marine for the last Hurricane Season and Mark dealt with the whole process. This year we decided to stay in the water and so far it has worked out really well. Grenada is a little gem and we love it.
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