Chartering a yacht in the Windward Islands – the southern islands of the Lesser Antilles:
The southern Lesser Antilles consist of Martinique, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Grenada, the Grenadines, Barbados and Tobago. This perfect sailing area is characterized by short distances, clear turquoise waters and dreamy landscapes. The local cuisine is a must and there’s a wonderful blend of diverse cultures and influences to soak up.
St. Lucia, Martinique and Grenada are the main chartering centres here with huge selections of yachts to offer. More marinas can be found on St. Vincent, Canouan or Union Island. More information about the main islands of the Windward Islands and area properties can be found below.
Dominica is pretty much the boundary between the Leeward and the Windward Islands to the south (it is part of the Windward Islands)
=> Martinique (part of France)
=> St. Lucia (independent)
=> St. Vincent (the main island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines)
=> Grenadines (St. Vincent and the Grenadines)
=> Grenada (independent)
=> Barbados (Independent)
=> Dominica (independent)
Area characteristics :
Wind & Weather: There are strong (up to 6 Bft) northeast trade winds here from November to early June. Rainy season and hurricane season is from June to October, usually with winds from the southeast and a tropical climate. Day temperatures rise to 28°-31° and at night around 21° to 24°.
Difficulty: Medium to hard due to the large distances between the islands and passages with strong waves. Need to take care of the numerous reefs. It gets light at 6am and dark by 6pm.
Navigation: The current between the individual islands runs between 1-2 knots, with about 30 cm tidal range so you need to take care. The whole area is well marked and here the American system applies: green is port and red is starboard. Night sailing is not recommended and is often prohibited in the reefs and on secondary routes.
Ports and anchorages:
Martinique: In the south of the island is the largest marina in Le Marin, a Hurricane hole, where you are well protected, located at the end of the Cul-de-Sac bay. Here several of our partners are based, with many catamaran and mono hull fleets. On the starboard side of the bay you’ll find the sleepy town of St. Anne, together with a supermarket and several restaurants. You can anchor well on sand, and although open to the south-southwest and west-northwest you are well protected here, and can go for a quick swim before checkout. A little further to the north lies the Club Med resort. To the west of Le Marin there are the more popular anchorages, which are open to the west. You’ll also find the picturesque fishing village of Grande d’Arlet and Petit Anse d’Arlet, both open to the south and west. Be careful, the swell can rise but the area between the two bays provides a wonderful snorkeling area.
St. Lucia: In the northern part of the island, the Rodney Bay Marina is well protected in a man made lagoon, This is also the final port for the ARC. In December it can often get very overcrowded. There is a bank and many shops and restaurants. The berths southeast of Fort Rodney or the palm beach of Marigot Bay are very popular but care must be taken especially on the coral reef in the west. The best anchorage is in the middle of the bay. Anse Castanet and Soufriere Bay belong to the marine park Soufriere Marine Management Authority (SMMA). Mooring here is only allowed at fee-based buoys, to protects the underwater world. Also Anse des Pitons is worth a visit. You can find a wonderful berth between the two Pitons.
Bequia: The main ports of Admiralty Bay or Port Elisabeth offer good protection. You can anchor well on silt, or opt for one of the fee fixed buoys (make sure you ask for a receipt)
Mustique: In Britannia Bay caution is required due to the coral reef Montezuma Shoal. In the south there are some reefs offshore. Also here you will find buoys for which you will be charged. The reefs make this an excellent place for divers and snorkeling. Make sure you visit the cult bar Basil’s. Although it’s a bit pricey, the drinks and food are excellent.
Cannouan: Charleston Bay is the best place, open to the west to northwest, rarely without swell in the northern part. Also Friendship Bay, which is well protected by a reef and a great spot for a day’s diving trip on the west coast if the weather is good.
Mayreau: After West Northwest, the Salt White Bay is one of the most beautiful bays in this area. There is a restaurant and a bar down near the beach. Use caution as there are reefs located on the southwest side. Approximately 30 metres north of the Grand Col Point reef is the old British cannon wreck, Purina, in about 30 meters of depth. Even while snorkeling it is easily recognizable. For a culinary highlight visit Dennis Hideaway or J & C Bar, both of which serve sumptuous, local Caribbean cuisine.
Tobago Cays Marine Park: There are a number of enchanting, small beaches fringed with palm trees in the Grenadines. The Northern Channel is the safest way, and on the other side is the southern route and the “Horse Shoe Reef” which even for advanced sailors is far from easy. North Bay is usually quiet and secluded and has trade winds from the northeast, which can make it slightly turbulent but a good place to snorkel. South Bay, however, is better protected. Another quiet mooring is between Petit Rameau and Petit Bateau, in the southwest of Barada.
Union Island: The offshore reefs complicate the entrance to Clifton Harbour, which is open to the southeast on the windward side. The harbour can be crowded, in which case try the Anchorage Yacht Club. Southeast of there you’ll find Palm Island with a bar and restaurant and surrounded by reefs that are ideal for snorkeling. Here one must also clear out, should you wish go on to Grenada.
Petit St. Vincent. Mopion and Pinese are tiny islets that you pass on the way to Petit Saint Vincent, the southernmost island in the area. The island is privately owned and has a large resort hotel. Well protected by reefs there is a beautifully anchorage situated on Place Sount.
Carriacou: A must see en route to Tyrell Bay is the picturesque sandy which is an ideal bathing stop. South of the red buoys in Tyrell Bay you find the best places to find provision.
Grenada: Here, in the ultra-modern Port Louis Marina, St. George’s is the starting point for Dream Yacht Charter, Sunsail and The Moorings. Here you can leave the yacht well protected and take a trip ashore to visit the waterfalls and tropical forests. In the southwest of the island you’ll find some excellent places. Here’s a selection of the best: Rue Blue Bay, Spice Iceland Marina in Prickly Bay (L’Anse aux Epines), Secret Harbour, Marina in Mount Hartmann Bay, the Anchor Bay in the east of Hog Island, the northwest corner of Clavigny Island, the northwest part of Port Egmont (hurricane hole) and Grenada Marine in St. David’s Harbour.
Regulations and authorities: In the yacht charter area of the Windward Islands you should follow the rules of clearing in & out precisely. The ship’s papers, the charter party, all the crew’s passports and the complete crew list must be filled in with names, nationalities and passport numbers. You will need to carry identical multiple copies. For only a day’s stop clearing in and out can usually be done on the spot.
Not to be forgotten is the “Clearance Paper” for clearing out, because you need it again at the next station to clear in. This can be done on the following islands: Martinique, St. Lucia, Clearing in the island state of St. Vincent and Grenadines, either in St. Vincent or directly into Port Elizabeth on Bequia. Clearing out at Clifton Harbour on Union Island, Grenada, the bureaucracy in Carriacou, Petit Martinique Hillsborough. Important note: In the Tobago Cays, fishing is strictly prohibited.
Arrival: British Airways and Virgin Atlantic offer direct flights to St.Lucia and Grenada,
or via Barbados into St. Vincent. The French Caribbean islands ie Martinique are best
served by Air France via Paris.
Limitations: You will need to anchor by 17:30 as darkness falls very quickly and night sailing is forbidden between reefs.
Not to be missed: A visit to Bequia restaurant in Admiralty Bay, or for a memorable night, head to the notorious Basil’s Bar. The Soufriere Volcano and its sulfur springs is definitely worth a visit, as is relaxing and snorkeling in the Tobago Cays and the Horse Shoe Reef.
An overview of the largest islands
Martinique is a very beautiful Caribbean island with a strong French influence. The island shines with Creole cuisine, hospitable people and wonderful hiking opportunities. There’s an abundance of colourful flora and diverse fauna both on land and underwater. There are many possibilities for excursions: the huge Mont Pelee volcano or the Museum Centre d’Art Paul Gauguin in Le Carbet. This is also home to the restored plantation of Leyritz where you can still see the slave cabins. Sainte-Anne, Diamant and Anses d’Arlet are perfect for lazing around on the beach and sunbathing. Generally, you can divide the beaches into several categories: 1. the picture postcard beaches in the south with white sand, ideal for beach holidays, 2. the natural beaches in the north (west coast) with black sand, good for swimming 3. the wild beaches on the Atlantic Coast partly black and partly bright sand, more suitable for water sports. We recommend planning about 14 days for a yachting holiday.
St. Lucia is the second biggest of the Windward islands. The biodiversity in St. Lucia is simply stunning. Wild orchids, hibiscus, roses and bougainvillea are omnipresent and not only look magical but smell divine. Sail between the two volcanoes and enjoy the spectacular views of the Twin Pitons, which are the island’s emblem.
St. Vincent: Soft hills shrouded in jungle and interspersed with scattered, little huts characterise the landscape here. On the east coast you’ll find rough cliffs and lots of rocks to the sea. The west coast has sandy gold and black beaches. In the north of the island the Soufrière volcano rises 1,234 metres. Kingstown is the capital where you’ll find a large harbour and the trading centre. Fort Charlotte has an unmissable view and you should also check out the unique Baleine waterfalls which stretch up 18 metres high. In the picturesque fishing villages of Questelles, Layou, Barrouallie and Chateaubelair on the west coast, you’ll find light pastel coloured houses that stand out in wonderful contrast to the black beaches.
Young Island, is in the immediate vicinity of St. Vincent, not even 200 meters, consists of a lush verdant mountain. In springtime there is a firework of flowers that radiate in all colours. Sporting facilities include tennis courts and a swimming pool. For sightseeing go to Duvernette, the 60 metre high rocks carved in the18th century.
Bequia: This is the largest of the Grenadines and has trademark golden, glittery beaches. Old traditions such as boat building and fishing are still very apparent. In the middle of the island you’ll see picturesque green hills. Admiralty Bay is the most popular anchorage here. Slightly further south is the small Caribbean pearl of Mustique. Only 1.5 km wide and 3 km long, its lush green hills contrast perfectly with its white sandy beaches and turquoise sea. This is a popular place and many of the international jet set have luxury villas here. The famous Basil’s Bar does the best fish.
Canouan has the most beautiful beaches and the colourful coral reefs are teeming with varieties of fish. The island is very small – just 5.5 km long and 2 km wide – and so only has two hotels and a few B&Bs.
Tobago Cays are a group of four islands that are protected by the Horseshoe Reef, which protects from the Atlantic current. Petit Bateau, Jamesby, Baradel and Petit Rameau are mainly visited by sailors and divers because of the beautiful coral reefs. A small drawback are the ‘boat boys’ which unfortunately can’t be avoided.
The highest mountain on Union Island is Mount Parnassus which boats many beautiful beaches. The small private Palm Island has over 8,000 coconut trees. There are about 20 bungalows belonging to Palm Island Beach Club right on the beach. Open air restaurants and a wide range of water sports facilities can be found here.
Grenada, the nutmeg island, was discovered in 1498 by Christopher Columbus. The three-kilometer wide beach lies in a sheltered bay and is very popular with tourists and locals. The beach offers a good excuse for strolling and enjoying fabulous traditional meals. Grenada is not only a paradise for sunbathers and swimmers but also for divers, snorkelers, surfers and sailors. There’s no shortage of dolphin watching boat tours. Hikers can take in a number of extinct and active volcanoes, such as the impressive crater lake of Grand Etang, as well as many natural parks. Grenada’s waterfalls are very famous. The romantic harbour of the Carenage St. George’s is lined with lots of restaurants. There’s also a zoo, botanical gardens and Fort George to visit. The most beautiful beaches, Grand Anse and Levara Bay, are in the national park.