| RECOMMENDED SAILING DESTINATIONS
MY FAVORITE SAILING AREAS in the CARIBBEAN
The best cruising guide to all the islands of the Caribbean is still Donald Street's venerable and
detailed book. Last revised in 1980, Vol.II covers Puerto Rico to Dominica, Vol.III Martinique
to Trinidad. Many of the references are out of date, such as the description of the entrance to
Maya Cove on Tortola: "..run down the range with the windmill bearing 308°.." At my first visit in 1987, the windwill no longer existed! Nevertheless
the detailed descriptions of many delightful anchorages, when used with up-to-date charts, are incomparable. Donald Street personally visited every anchorage, sailing with his family on his engineless schooner "Iolaire." The most readable charts of this entire area are those developed by Street and published by Imray-Iolaire in
Great Britain. They are available from some US chart supply houses.
The Caribbean is a fantastic cruising ground throughout the year. Temperatures don't vary more than a few degrees all year round. The Trade Winds blow most of the year, strongest and most reliable during the winter months. Rain showers occur throughout the year, but more frequently during the summer months. During the summer months there is a danger of hurricanes. However, in the southern part hurricanes are rare. The southern Grenadines and Grenada have only been hit a couple of times in the last twenty years. Many cruising sailors return to the United States during these months, others go further south to Grenada and Venezuela and the Dutch Antilles, south of the hurricane zone.
The beauty of the islands, the short distances (rarely more than 2-3 hours) between anchorages and the relatively smooth sailing, have made them the favorite cruising area for large numbers of north American sailors, particularly in the winter months. The increase in numbers since I first visited these islands in 1987 has been dramatic. At my most recent visit, on a North South Charters boat, the area had become so crowded that it was essential to come into many anchorages as early as possible, no later than two to three in the afternoon, to find a convenient anchorage or to pick up one of the moorings provided in many of the more popular places. The best times for cruising in the B.V.I. are: November to mid-December; from the week after Easter to the end of May. In these time periods the charterer will obtain substantially lower rates, the anchorages are less crowded and it is easier to get space on the feeder airlines into Tortola's small airport.
NOS Chart 25609. 18 ° 27.8'N 64° 31.6'W. The anchorage is well protected from every
direction. Over 20 moorings are available for those who are willing to pay $20 to save the hassle
and for peace of mind. Fuel and water are available at the dock. For those changing crews, a
jetty 300yds. walk from the air terminal building is only 1/2 mile away. The small island is charming, covered in flowers. On it's peak is situated the original house built by Robb and Rodie
White in the Thirties.
Now the library for the tiny Pusser's Resort and an afternoon bar, it offers superb views in all directions of the multicolored waters. Watch the sunset while sipping a Pusser Painkiller. There is excellent snorkeling to the north of the island.
Marina Cay is a good starting point for a visit to the spectacular rock formations at the Baths at the SW end of Virgin Gorda, only 5NM away. To avoid the crowds of day-trippers from all the resorts, plan on getting there well before 10a.m.
This large, 2-mile long, landlocked lagoon provides excellent anchorage to the east of Mosquito Island, behind the reef extending southeastward from it's northerly tip. Pusser's Resort close by in Leverick Bay offers a small beach, good supplies, bar and restaurant. I avoid the noise and bustle of the expensive and busy resort at the Bitter End.
This large L-shaped island offers several anchorages. The one with the finest beaches is Dead Man Bay at the NE tip. Anchor as close to the small beach at the east end of the bay as possible.It is worth the effort of moving when day cruisers from Tortola leave in the late afternoon. You will sleep in smoother water. There are no mooring buoys here. Walk over the the short road, next to the helicopter pad, to the wonderful, picture perfect, east facing beach on Big Reef Bay. Snorkeling in the shallow waters behind the reef will give closeup views of numerous fish, manta rays and turtles. Don't bother to go to the resort at the west end of Dead Man Bay, they don't like yachtsmen in their casual clothes!
18° 28.5'N 64° 34.7'W This anchorage is for those who seek privacy and solitude, you'll probably be the only one there. There really isn't room for more than two yachts. Anchor off the beach making sure that eddies coming down the cliffs don't swing your stern onto the rocks, best use Bahamian moor. Interesting snorkeling all the way out to the point at the head of the bay.
Great Harbor (18° 26.7'N 64° 45.3'W) is not a great anchorage. There tends to be a swell, the closer in you can get the better but be aware that the ground shoals rapidly. However, this is the place for a night ashore in a real native tropical ambiance. Foxy's Bar, right on the beach, with it's sandy floor, palm leaf roof decorated with yachtsman's pennants, flags and underwear, and Calypso music, is rightly famous in the yachting community. There are two other restaurants, one of which, Rudy's, offers lobsters, when available. For swimming and sandy beach, go to Sandy Cay just to the east of Jost Van Dyke. A daytime anchorage in limpid, pale aquaramine, water gives access to this tiny island with brilliant white sand and a couple of small palm trees.
This archipelago of small, beautiful, mountainous islands lies a few miles south of the main island Guadeloupe. They consist of two larger islands Terre d'en Haut (Windward land) and Terre d'en Bas (Leeward Land) and a number of smll rocky, uninhabited islands. There are several good anchorages. The principal anchorage off the town Bourg des Saintes tends to become crowded with visitors from Guadeloupe during weekends, leaving space only in quite deep water for late arrivals. It is better to anchor away from the ferry traffic in the 20 foot depth of the bay to the south of the main anchorage. The entire bay is well protected - Ilet a Cabrit breaks the force of any chance morth-westerlies - but does sometimes have a swell.
My favorite anchorage is in Baie de Pont-Pierre, sometimes referred to as Baie des Pompieres (Firemens' Bay). This bay is totally protected, has a sandy beach lined with palm trees and good holding in it's western half. Enough wind blows through the opening between the rocky island to the east and the high headland to keep it cool and relatively bug-free. You can spend a few days here relaxing, snorkeling, or walking on the island. A walk of a lttle more than half a mile will bring you to the main town to buy supplies.
Charts N.O.S. 25563, Imray-Iolaire A28 and A281. Entrance to Baie de Pont-Pierre at 15° 52.7'N 61° 34.2'W. There is a rock about 5 feet below the surface in the middle of the entrance, but it is clearly visible in good light. The approach from the south tip of Guadeloupe is a 9 mile slog to windward. From the main city of Guadeloupe and charter boat center, Point-a-Pitre, it is an easy (under normal conditions) 22NM sail.
Another pleasant anchorage is at the west end of the main island, south of the appropriately named hill Pain de Sucre (Sugarloaf). This one, however is completely exposed to any chance north-westerlies. In settled weather a great anchorage off an extensive beach is at Grand Anse on the NE side of the smaller of the two main islands - Terre d'en Bas. All the other beautiful beaches are best visited from the land as they are exposed to the Atlantic swells and unsuitable for anchoring except in rare calm weather.
Once in Guadeloupe waters, it is well worth visiting Iles de la Petite Terre at 16° 10.8'N 61°7.3'W , in settled weather. Little known and rarely visited by Americans, the anchorage between the two islets, directly north of the lighthouse is well protected from the Atlantic swells by the extensive reefs to the east. Holding is good in sand, and there is a white sand beach on the smaller island. On the larger island there are interesting ruins of an old estate. The lighthouse is supposed to be the oldest one in the entire Western hemisphere that is still operating. There is fine snorkeling on the reef. The entrance from the NW is 7 feet deep and narrow between reefs and should be attemped only in good light. Entrance is dangerous if a northerly swell is running.Return to top of page
Of all the anchorages in the Grenadines this is the most beautiful, although not deserted. The island is privately owned and hosts a small, charming resort.
However, contrary to most resort owners, those at Petit St. Vincent welcome visiting yachtsmen, as long as they respect the privacy of the paying guests in their bungalows. Yachtsmen may also enjoy the bar and restaurant. The anchorage has good holding and is well protected from ocean swells by reefs to the east.
Another delightful and deserted anchorage, exposed to the wind but sheltered from swells by the reefs, is located on the north side of the island. This anchorage provides immediate access to fantastic snorkeling on the reefs and to deserted, pristine, sparkling white beaches. From here it is also a short dinghy ride over to Mopion, a tiny deserted sand spit, upon which a palm leaf shelter has been erected. It must be the smallest island in the world with a permanent structure!
Charts N.O.S. 25042. Imray-Iolaire B31 and B311. Coming from the north, Clifton on Union I. or Palm Island, it is possible to pass through the reef that encircles Petit St. Vincent from the NW. Steer 162° towards the peak of the mountain on Petit Martinique. The passage between the shallow reefs of Mopion and the reefs of the submerged islet Pinese is about 18 feet deep on this course.
Petit St. Vincent is the last in the chain of islands under the administration of St.Vincent. The island across the sound, Petit Martinique, is under the administration of Grenada. The southernmost customs and passport office of St. Vincent is on Union Island.
The northernmost offices of Grenada are in Hillsborough on the island of Carriacou. North or southbound yachts must clear out at one and clear in at the other. A southbound yacht may declare it's desire to stop at Petit St. Vincent and receive permission to continue on into Grenada waters without returning to Union Island.
Admiralty Bay is the main anchorage for this delightful island, 9 NM south of the charter yacht base in Calliaqua Bay on St. Vincent. It is well protected, but the center of the bay is deep and the sand is hard. Make sure that the anchor is well dug in and that you have enough scope, because often strong gusts come whistling through the saddle between the mountains.
A better anchorage is off Princess Margaret Beach on the south side of the bay, but then it's a long dinghy ride into the settlement. Enterprising locals provide water taxi service. Bequia is a good base for taking on fresh produce before setting off to the Tobago Cays. There are several stores selling products of the local artisans, including model boats.
There is a wonderful, long, curving beach in Friendship Bay on the south coast. Because of the ocean swell it is only recomended in settled weather and even then stay close in on the east side, south of the hotel dinghy dock. Bequia used to be a whaling center and some of the old whale boats may be seen on the west side of the bay. An alternative is to walk over from Admiralty Bay, across the hill (about a mile) or take a ride in a jitney taxi from the post office.