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Old 12-05-2010, 12:08   #1
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Eastern or Western Caribbean ?

My husband and I have spent the past 3 winters in the Bahamas on our sailboat and are ready for a new adventure. We were getting enthusiastic about Belize and Guatamala; however after further research we are not sure that we would feel comfortable there. We love to anchor out far from the madding crowd and obviously this is unwise in Guatamala especially in the Rio Dulce. My husband did the thorny path in the 90s is open to sailing the eastern Caribbean; however he is thinking that it might be busier and more touristy than quaint and laid back as it once was.
We would love to hear from anyone who has sailed in either direction and will appreciate any feedback that you can provide. If all else fails we have considered Cuba as well since we are Canadians and our boat is stored in the Abacos and Cuba is not far The Bahamas. Anyone who has been to Cuba is welcome to respond as well This forum is wonderful and thank you for sharing.
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Old 12-05-2010, 13:19   #2
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Chrissy, I have been following your posts and comments and I again have to say we much preferred the Western Caribbean to the Eastern and have sailed both. You are going to find the crime rates in the US Virgin Islands as high as any major city in the US. There is and has been crime in every island in the Caribbean at one time or another to match pretty much anything that has happened in the Western Caribbean at one time or another. That does not mean it is the same now, either better or worse. It is much more crowded and considerebaly more expensive in the Eastern Caribbean. You are getting just a small sampling of information here which really does little to give you a complete picture. We have friends that have been involved in serious crimes in St. Croix and St. Thomas as well as Trinidad. They have never had problems in Belize or Guatemala. Mexico is in the news almost daily because of drug wars and kidnappings yet if you ask any cruiser that has been there they love the place, felt very secure and do return over and over. I make these points so you might keep an open mind. We have been in harbors that some have come it and did nothing but complain and blast the place all over the internet while we and others spent weeks and weeks and had a wonderful time. On the subject of Cuba, I would say as a cruiser if you can get there now, go. Once it opens up it will not be the same, and it is a place not to be missed. But from there, where do you go. Jamaica is a terrible place if you beleive all of the publicity, the resorts keep you guarded behind high walls, Mexico, well I touched on that, Honduras or Panama, we have all heard the stories there. My point is do your homework and get the big picture. Don't let the opinions of a few keep you from what might very well be the best experience of your lifetime and don't let fear drive your decisions. I know it is tough, we were in your position at one time. But after 20 years, we learned to read between the lines, get the latest information from people that were out there now, not ten years ago, and certainly took any information we received over the internet with a grain of salt. Good luck with your choices.
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Old 12-05-2010, 14:29   #3
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Ive been to West but not while sailing. But East Caribbean - I live there. There are tons of non touristy places still left if that what you want....
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Old 12-05-2010, 15:32   #4
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After 20 plus years of observing and then being in the Caribbean/Gulf of Mexico I have come the the realization that "things" occur in "cycles." That is, one specific areas/country/harbor might have bad incidents for a year or two or three and then the next period of time everything is settled down and quite safe and pleasant. You can observe that about just every island and coastal country.
- - So what is the magic secret to get in sync with the "good times" places? I don't know anymore than any weather forecaster can absolutely tell you about the weather next week. The idea being that an area need not be excluded from your destination list just because of a number of recent problems - just put the destination off until a later time and concentrate on the currently "nice" places.
- - For as sure as anything in a few years the current "nice" places will have a spat of problems and the former "bad places" will now be the nice "in-places" to stop. The flexibility of a sailing vessel allows you to "change" destinations as opposed to land-based tourist commitments which are normally use it or lose it. One the great benefits of sailing/cruising is that if you don't like the anchorage/neighborhood - weigh anchor and move on to another area.
- - Within any large sailing/cruising area, say Central America or the Leewards or the Windwards you will find plenty of "great" islands/anchorages as alternatives to some currently "bad" ones. And from one year to another they will change places between the "good" column and the "bad" column. However, sometimes it takes half a decade to a decade to swap columns. Usually that is caused by uninformed politicians who do not know that their population is suffering from lack of "cruiser dollars" being spent because cruisers are no longer stopping. Instead the cruisers are going to islands/anchorages that want and care about receiving our patronage.
- - Bottom line, the choice between "western" or "eastern" Caribbean need not be made solely upon the security situation in one particular small area of that region. Instead you might consider whether your "style of cruising life" is compatible with visiting/living in 3rd world versus 1st world type places or whether the culture of Spanish language countries doesn't fit well and your prefer English language countries/islands.
- - Along that line the Caribbean is great because you can spend some time in Spanish areas and then in following years switch to the English areas - back and forth. What is it they say - variety is the spice of life.
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Caribbean, eastern caribbean

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