August 5, 2010
Onboard chef and accomplished sailor Ayla Lewis follows yesterday’s post on sailing around the Caribbean with a beginner’s guide to chartering your own boat for the ultimate holiday adventure.
“In an archipelago famed for its world-class sailing, there’s no shortage of opportunities for even the greenest landlubbers to try their hand at the wheel and feel the wind on their face. There are holiday options to satisfy everyone’s needs, from bareboat charters – which are cheaper but require some experience – to the five-star luxury of a professionally crewed charter yacht.“
Start off with a few days onshore at Stonefield Villas in St Lucia, a truly perfect cliff top paradise. The villas, overlooking the ocean from up high in the Pitons, offer complete privacy and seclusion. Then head out for a week aboard a professionally crewed yacht, where you only have to do what you want, when you want.
Exquisite five-star dining, service and sailing will all be tied into one idyllic package, allowing you to cruise wherever the mood (or wind) takes you. Sail ‘down island’ – the term used for going south of the Virgin Islands – towards Grenada and slow down your pace of life.
Charter a boat out of the British Virgin Islands. Whatever your budget or experience there will be something to suit, and these islands offer the most protected, sheltered cruising grounds with anchorages being just a short morning or afternoon’s hop from each other.
Fantastic beaches like White Bay Beach in Jost Van Dyke and Smuggler’s Cove in Tortola offer child-friendly shallow waters for swimming. You can also have a go at sailing small dinghies and windsurfing at the Leverick Bay Watersports Centre in Virgin Gorda. These islands attract more sailors than the rest of the Caribbean, but there’s plenty of sea for all.
Take off down island from St Vincent to Grenada. The larger islands’ lush interiors offer endless rainforest and waterfall-riddled hikes, while the smaller islands offer secluded white sand anchorages and bays which are perfect for letting life float by.
The people here love their islands and want you to love them too; you’ll no doubt be approached by friendly locals offering you lobster and fish. Be ready for a true island escape if you head down towards Union Island, Bequia and Mustique though, as shops and restaurants are few and far between. You’ll be rewarded with wonderfully clear waters, immaculate beaches and technicolour sunsets that many visitors never get the chance to see.
Though the Caribbean sailing holiday itself may be the epitome of tranquility, it does require some careful planning. Important things to consider are:
When you have a fair idea of what you’re looking for, these sites should get you started: