Well the Caribbean season will soon be upon us.
With charter and private boats preparing for the crossing or to be shipped from the Europe.
With the main crossing period around late Nov to Dec depending on charter bookings, and shows like Antigua which are a important date in the big boat charter calendar.
Some smaller charter shows like the BVI show are early Nov, and cater for boats ranging approx 45 to 100 ft and mainly boats that based in the West Indies most of the year round.
Here in St.Lucia we have just had the passing of Tropical storm Matthew which has left a some damage, but in general the Windward Island tend to be a safer place due to their closer proximity to the equator as the storms tend to bend further north and increase there intensity as they head North. Tropical storm or worse hurricane prediction is very good with today's technology and forecasting, which more often gives you a decent amount of time to get prepared. In fact I would say the weather is much more predicable than the Med as we don't suffer from katabatic gusts coming down from the cold mountains ranges.
The windward Island have increased in popularity over the years Trinidad, Grenada, St.Lucia and Martinique being a popular hangout for boats with extended Caribbean seasons, and decent haulout and refit for smaller boats staying.
St.Lucia has see a big increase of larger boats over the years especially given the development by IGY of their Rodney Bay Marina with its 32 Berth Mega Yacht dock and 253 standard berths 3.9m draft, plus many shoreside facilities offering good services for boat maintenance and provisioning. With its great bars and restaurants right on the marina site italso keeps crews happy as it is a nice place to socialise.
At the entrance to the marina is Reduit Bay which is long sandy beach with huge expanse of water protected by Pigeon Island and its causeway in the north of the bay. Many boats can be seen anchored there throughout the whole year, with good holding, protection and a short tender ride to the marina makes it ideal for cruisers, or mega yachts with large draft.
All these factors make St.Lucia best destination for Grenadines charter pick up and drop off, with many direct flights from the U.S, U.K and other destinations.
Marigot Bay is a little further south and has also been developed by Capella Marigot again now he ability to berth superyachts. This is the well known hurricane hole where Nelson was said to hide the fleet with flora while the French sailed past.
Many will know St.Lucia for the ARC Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, this the biggest event of its type in the world, with around 300 boats arriving in St.Lucia many starting in Las Palmas, and a smaller number from the Cape Verdes in ARC+. This brings a lot sailors to the Island in December which is huge boost Island economy. Many of these boats staying for a good number weeks to make repairs or chillout and enjoy the Island beauty.
Once a Charter captain myself I have cruised the Islands many times before setting up Boatshed St.Lucia, I have always been drawn back the diversity and beaut there and its people. The Island in my view has the best combination of stunning mountains, rain forest and superb beaches, with many hidden gems that only come light after time. Its most famous landmark is the Pitons which are simply spectacular in every way. Many superyachts can been seen there with owners enjoying serine setting. Some of the best hotels in the world are close to the Pitons http://www.ladera.com/ , http://www.jademountain.com/ , and there are also working coco plantations like http://www.thechocolateboutiquehotel.co.uk/.
The area is a world heritage site good number Hollywood A list personalities have realised its beauty and are property owners over looking the Pitons.
If heading south most yachts will then leave the Piton heritage site and head on 30 mile passage to St.Vincent & the Grenadines and it amazing waters, like the world famous Tobago Cays.
From the North In Rodney Bay it is a shorter passage of 21 miles to Martinique which again is very different being a French Island with much development in South especially in Le Marin which again can now accommodate Superyachts and has great shoreside facilities.
Here in St.Lucia the yard is full and busy with people getting final work done before the start of the main season in a few weeks, and hopefully know more storms.!!
Well it might be time to go and do what charter guest do, as it will soon be another golden sunset here, and hopefully with a green flash and rum cocktail to hand or maybe 2 if happy hour !!.
Hopefully we will see you at one of our Boatshed offices which is ever expanding throughout the Caribbean.