How to Sail to the Caribbean

How to Sail to the Caribbean
Although accessible by air, sailing to the Caribbean is possibly the most thrilling way. For centuries, the exotic island nations of the Caribbean and their vibrant and distinctive brands of culture have captivated the hearts of millions of seafarers and travelers from around the world. However, sailing to this exotic "Land of the Calypso" requires sound planning.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Passport Visa Charter broker/company Boat
  • Passport
  • Visa
  • Charter broker/company
  • Boat
Step 1
Plan ahead. Caribbean island nations are many and diverse in nature. Therefore, if you are a first-time sailor, you will need to gather information before you begin your journey. Decide your destination islands, the number of people you'll have on board, the timing of your voyage, possible weather conditions, food and beverage arrangements and your budget.
Step 2
Organize relevant travel documents. Make sure your passport is valid long enough for travel to and from the Caribbean. Passports are required for submission at all customs/immigration checkpoints and seaports of entry to each Caribbean island nation, as are return or onward tickets.
Step 3
Apply for a tourist visa. Tourist visas are mandatory for people sailing/traveling to the Caribbean from most countries, except for citizens of Australia, Britain, Canada, the European Union, Japan and the United States. Visa fees and other requirements vary from one island to another, as do the processing times for their issuance.
Step 4
Make contact with a charter broker. Although you can contact boat charter companies directly, it would be better to contact a reputable charter broker first. These entities perform similarly to travel agents and, through their extensive links with professional charter companies, can get you the most competitive boat rental quotes from several such companies.

If you contact a reputable charter company directly, understand that there are two categories--"first-tier" and "second tier." First-tier companies own the latest boats, no older than four to five years, while second-tier companies have much older boats. For an extra fee, first-tier companies also offer such facilities as GPS systems, cell phones, stereo music systems, autopilot systems and more.
Step 5
Select the type of boat that suits your needs and budget. Charter companies offer a variety of boats, each with a different rental price. These boats can be rented on the basis of bareboat, skippered boat and crewed boat.

Bareboats have no skipper or crew, and are therefore ideal for experienced sailors. Skippered boats come with an experienced skipper but no crew. Skippers are paid on a daily basis and are an asset to have on board, especially for those with inadequate sailing experience. Crewed boats come with full crew, a skipper and a chef.
Step 6
Plan your budget. A sailing trip to the Caribbean is not inexpensive, although you may save on hotel rentals, particularly if you are sailing with a group and split costs. Items to include in your budget are cost of chartered boat rentals; food and beverage expenses; daily fee payable to skipper; tips to crew; entry/departure taxes, if any; and a sufficient amount to cover expenses for other on-shore activities.

Tips & Warnings

 
January to March is the best time of the year to sail to the Caribbean. For first-time sailors, the Bahamas or Virgin Islands are exciting starting points en route to the Caribbean, as they are in close proximity to the U.S. mainland.
 
January to March is the best time of the year to sail to the Caribbean.
 
For first-time sailors, the Bahamas or Virgin Islands are exciting starting points en route to the Caribbean, as they are in close proximity to the U.S. mainland.
 
Avoid sailing to the Caribbean between July and November, as heavy summer rains and hurricanes are a common occurrence during this time. Avoid sailing on the northeastern (Atlantic Ocean) sides of the islands, as these areas experience the strongest currents and the largest waves.
 
Avoid sailing to the Caribbean between July and November, as heavy summer rains and hurricanes are a common occurrence during this time.
 
Avoid sailing on the northeastern (Atlantic Ocean) sides of the islands, as these areas experience the strongest currents and the largest waves.

Article Written By Ezmeralda Lee

Ezmeralda Lee is a published writer living in Upstate New York. She has been writing for more than 15 years and has experience with subjects such as business, management, computer programming, technology, horses and real estate, She has expertise in computers, home and garden, law and literature. Lee holds a B.A. in English from Binghamton University.

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