Caribbean (Lesser Antilles) - practical information for sailors
Cruise in the Caribbean is a great adventure and an exceptionally beautiful and exotic trip. We provide you with a handful of practical information that would help you to prepare for the Caribbean cruise (mainly for sailing around the Lesser Antilles):
- the weather in the Caribbean is quite the same all year round - air temperatures around 30-35 degrees C, water around 25-28 degrees C, permanent winds around 5-6 B, blowing from the eastern directions (NE, E, SE). Within a year, there is a dry season and a rainy season. Sailing is more enjoyable during the rainy season as rains in the Caribbean are rather refreshing often in the form of a local 5-minute rainfall.
- in the Caribbean the sun rises at exactly 6 AM and at 6 PM goes down.
- many navigational obstacles are not illuminated at night, so we do not recommend sailing around the islands at night
- the Caribbean is in the region B of a Maritime Buoyage System - IALA, which means that the colour of the buoys are exactly opposite than in Europe at the entrance to the marina (Caribbean = green buoy on the left, red on the right at the entrance)
- Hurricane season in the Caribbean (Windward Islands) runs from June to the end of October. We do not recommend sailing during this period.
- Entering the ports from the west side of the island may be difficult because of very strong sunrays reflected in the evening
- The islands or groups of islands in the Caribbean belong to different states - this causes the obligation to check in when entering and leaving each state
- In the Lesser Antilles the official currency is the Eastern Caribbean dollar (the so-called EC) or Euro depending of the island. We recommend to have some amount of this currency with you for local shopping or tips.
- Days (even at sea in strong winds) and nights in the Caribbean are very warm - hence you can limit the number of warm clothes to a minimum.
- Things that are worth taking for a cruise: polarized sunglasses, ABC equipment for swimming, cream with a high filter.
- Martinique, which is the convenient starting point for cruises, belongs to France and the EU. Hence the good air connections and easy border crossing from the EU countries.
- Time zone: GMT -4.00.
- While staying anchored in the bays it is good to fasten the outboard engine and dinghy with a padlock for a night or a longer exit. Unfortunately thefts happen.
- You may negotiate the price, especially with people who come to you on small boats, often their prices can be discounted by half.
- Pay attention to places where you can fill up your fresh water tanks while planning your cruise route.
- Sailing through narrow passages and between the reefs do not trust endlessly your electronic maps - it's worth observing characteristic points and comparing them with the map.
- On most islands you can speak with local inhabitants in English.
- If a boat boy wants to help you consider it and do not refuse strongly. It is sometimes worth paying a small amount and have good relations and feel safe with local population.
- Respect nature of the Caribbean - do not destroy coral reefs, do not take shells, do not buy products from turtles (they are protected, not hunted, even by local people), do not open your waste tanks in the bays, do not give the garbage to the boat boys - they often throw them into the nearest bushes.
You can watch a movie about Caribbean here:
We wish you safe and wonderful Caribbean cruises!