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Visiting by boat, with the trade winds, amazing beaches and picturesque islands
Travel itineraries, hiking, kayaking and sailing in Italy and around the world

Travel itinerary
In this page you find some useful suggestions to sail the Caribbean and, in particular, the wonderful Windward Islands. Our travel itineary was about 250 miles: from Martinique towards the south, up to Union Island, in the Grenadines, and then back north to the french island. But then we made a second trip, from Guadeloupe to Antigua (and back), so here you find some info also about the Leeward islands.
(For the map and general info about the trip click here: holidays in the Caribbean, where you can find the links to the pages with detailed info about the different islands).

Pitons at Saint Lucia, Caribbean
Mooring under the Pitons at Saint Lucia, Caribbean
Sailing in the Caribbean or in the Mediterranean sea?
It's nice to compare the Caribbean with other beautiful sailing destinations in order to understand how unique the Caribbean islands are. Here the trade winds blow continuosly from the east (or north-east), especially in winter (December-April is high season for sailing in the Caribbean). This makes for very comfortable cruising most of the time. Wind strenghts is usually around 20 knots, so you don't need to use the engineto cross from on island to the other.

The other great consequence of the regular trade winds is that it's possible to easily moor along the leeward coasts of the islands. Along the travel itinerary from Martinique to the Grenadines, marinas are mostly absent, but you really don't need them thanks to the many beautiful natural harbours.
Of course, the moorings that are good also in case of a hurricane are fewer so in certain situations you have to carefully plan where to drop anchor... but usually in good season it's a charm.
I found a bit more difficult to navigate around Antigua: lots of coral reefs and shallows, and less protection from the wind in the bays of the western coast (as Antigua is quite flat, especially in the nothern part). So, keep this in mind when planning your navigation. Check the weather forecasts.
Mooring at Admiralty Bay, Bequia, the Grenadines
Mooring at Admiralty Bay, Bequia, the Grenadines
Of course people may argue for days if the Caribbean are more or less beautiful than Sicily, for example, but the Caribbean have many pros also for sailors who are "used" to palms, reefs and white beaches. In winter, temperatures are ideal in the Caribbean; there's full of fish in the sea for thos who love fishing; the temperature of the water is ideal too: you can stay in the water as you wish without getting cold. Snorkeling and diving are great. And as you don't have to enter marinas (not entered one in almost a total month there), also from an economic point of view sailing in the Caribbean is cheaper.

One thing that is definetely better for example in the Italian sea is the food! The Caribbean are not cheap and the quality is lower (unless you can fish and cook fresh fish... in this case you will eat amazingly well). Also, when you sail in Italy you can see many diverse and beautiful towns. Let's be clear: the Mediterranean and the Caribbean are just diverse, each with its own advantages, but sailing in the Caribbean has some great peculiarities.
Mooring in the Tobago Cays, Caribbean
Catamarans and sailing boats anchored at the Tobago Cays
There are some perils in the Caribbean, mainly the reefs and the pirates. To avoid the reefs, you need a lot of attention and a very good gps plotter: it's not that easy to understan the depth by the colours of the sea.
The pirates are a fancy name for some robbers that may jump onboard and steal something. If the robber has a weapon, it may be dangerous. Some bays of Saint Vincent are ill famed, but the accidents are really rare anyway, and we didn't meet any real or fake pirates, not even in Wallilabou (where the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie was shot). And we didn't hit reefs either!
The food is not a problem, but for better and cheaper options it's a good idea to bring something from home and to buy lots of stuff in the big stores in Martinique or in other big islands: small shops in the smaller islands are more expensive and with much less offer. It's true that it's nicer to give money to a local shop than to some big chain: some products, especially rhum, beer and fruit, are everywhere.
Cumberland Bay, Saint Vincent, Caribbean
Cumberland Bay, Saint Vincent, a fascinating anchorage in the Caribbean
Renting a sailing boat: catamaran or monohull?
When sailing in the Caribbean, catamarans have some big advantages: lots of storage, comfort during navigation, good speed. Thanks to the regular trade winds it's possible to avoid sailing upwind.
As in the Caribbean you never use marinas, the size of the catamaran is not a problem and the low draft actually helps when anchoring near the coast. Of course, lovers of traditional sailing boats will have a lot of sailing in the trade winds. It's important that everything inside the boat is well tied up!
We rented a Privilege 495 at Le Marin (Martinique). It's a robust, comfortable catamaran: there was a lot of room for 7 persons, and it was also quite fast. We sailed about at 8-9 knots upwind (55-60 degree angle to the real wind), and at 12 knots downwind with a top speed of 15 knots with the help of the Ocean waves (all of this with the typical trade winds at 20 knots, and some gusts at 30 knots). A catamaran like this must have a desalinizator (when you never enter a marina, the tanks get empty soon, even though there are places where you can fill water and fuel tanks along the Martinique-Grenadines travel itinerary).
For out sailing holiday at Guadeloupe (and Les Saintes) and Antigua we had a Helia 44, a much slower catamaran, but very comfortable, as we were 9 people and we lived happily for two weeks.

Le Marin, Martinique, Caribbean
Typical boat at Le Marin, Martinique, one of the best marinas in the Caribbean
When you choose your rental boat of course you need to carefully consider prices and reliability of the agency (having technical problems with the charter boat is usually a nightmare). If you are lucky, with 100 euros per person per day you can rent something good, and out of season you can find way better prices. Considering that a sailing boat provides accomodation, transport and fun, the cost from "ok" may get even a bargain for such a holiday.
For many other photos, at higher resolution, of the Tobago Cays, have a look at this photogallery:
Photos Tobago Cays
All photos from the wonderful Tobago Cays

And for many other photos of the other Caribbean islands, check this photogallery:
Photos Caribbean
All photos of the Caribbeans: Martinica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

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