The island experts recommend visiting yachts stay in close contact with yacht agents in the areas they choose to cruise. Says Simon Manley at Shore Support on St. Martin, “Weather is a huge factor in the comfort and enjoyment of guests and we spend a lot of time helping captains find calmer anchorages and adapting their itineraries on the fly.” And the other thing to remember is the paperwork. “Some boats make the mistake of assuming that checking into one island, especially in the southern Caribbean, automatically checks them into others. It’s important for captains to remember that most islands are independent sovereign states and the regulations for each port of entry must be respected to avoid penalties or fines,” explains Troy Blanchard at Marigot Bay, St. Lucia. Almost every stop on an itinerary involves clearing in and out of customs and Immigration, meaning you have to check in and leave each country at port of entry. So Nick Line, Managing Director, at Anchor Concierge & Super Yacht Services Ltd, on Antigua suggests spending a few days around each island to cut down on time dealing with formalities.
Samuel Andrews of Sam Taxi Tours Ltd on Dominica warns that yachts coming for the first time must be made aware that nationals from the following countries require a visa to enter the country: China, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Nigeria, Dominican Republic, and Jordan. All other paperwork would be normal. In Jamaica, Boaters will need to complete forms for the health/quarantine, immigration and customs department. However, these forms are all provided free of charge at the port of entry. Provisioning wise most agree with Nick Line at Anchor Concierge & Super Yacht Services Ltd who says that while shipping in provisions seems like an extravagance, a great deal of what is in the supermarkets on the islands, is shipped in by sea and so it’s a week old and subject to shipping costs and duty before it hit the shelves, so flying in high quality provisions that are two days old and duty free makes a lot of sense as it will keep longer onboard.
Christine Downer,Marina Manager at Errol Flynn Marina & Boatyard on Jamaica says that dry goods are all available at the big chain supermarkets in Kingston and can be easily had with a local driver. She would encourage yachts to bring specialised fish that is not in Jamaican waters (example: Atlantic salmon) with them as it can take some time to import due to the nature of the goods. Knuckling down to the yummy stuff these locals offer up their favourite, un-missable bits of their island lives.
“My father’s grand parents were Irish folks who were sent to the sister island of Montserrat to oversee a plantation,” explains Andrew Cobra O’Brien of Cobra Tours/Dominica Yacht Agency. “My dad boarded a banana boat and came to Dominica as a young man..met my mom whose parents were descendants of Africans (who were brought to the island to work the plantations) and Kalinago (Carib Indian who came to the island by choice from being hunters and gatherers or nomads, back then coming from south east Asia in the late 15th century)…and boom… here I am! Ever since he has been on this island. O’Brien’s favourite spots include: Prince Rupert’s Bay, Mero Bay, Champagne Beach Bay on the south west coast of the island, south of the capital city of Roseau and immediately north of the boundaries of the (SSMR) Soufiere Scottshead Marine Reserve.”What do I love most about my island? The nature and natural sites of the island..which sync with the friendliness of its people. The very strong heritage and cultural background that make us who we are!” You don’t want to miss the diving, snorkelling and whale watching in this spot of the world.
Simon Manley, from Shore Support hitchhiked/sailed to the island 30 years ago, and captained yachts between the Caribbean and the US East coast for a few years before staying for a summer and really enjoying it. He says, “I got a challenging and interesting job as the Caribbean Manager for Sunsail and the Moorings which kept me travelling throughout the islands but using St Maarten/St Martin as my home base.” His favourite two locations are two of the Anguillas outer islands
– Dog Island and Scrub Island. He also suggests a climb up the active volcano Mount Scenery (887m) on Saba Island. Saba is Dutch and Mount Scenery is the highest point of the entire Netherlands. Pre-hurricane Irma, the St.Martin would have about 400 yachts over 80ft visiting the area and this year Manley expects about 75% of that. Says Manley, “I love the diversity of the region. It’s cosmopolitan with French, Dutch, Antillean etc and also diverse with peaceful and relatively remote spots, busy St Maarten, and classy and chic St Barths.”
Nick Line, Managing Director of Anchor Concierge & Super Yacht Services Ltd at Falmouth Harbour Marina didn’t know where Antigua was when he answered a job advert in 1987. He spent a stint in Spain before returning again in 2004. It’s hard to name a favourite spot, there are too many and the islands are too diverse to compare; The British, the Dutch, the French and the US Virgin Islands. But he knows why he loves Antigua, ‘It is still a very typical Caribbean island and not spoilt by high rise development. It has some great anchorages and sheltered bays, along with stunning views and a great history.”