Let the Wind Be Your Guide: The Top Charter Sailing Vacations

St. Vincent and the Grenadines

The Grenadines. Just the name is exotic, conjuring images of green tropical cays floating like gobs of creme de menthe in a cerulean sea. And why not? It happens to be true—the exotic images part at least. From the tony Mustique to the lesser-known Mayreau, the islands have long been the domain of sailors. In the early days cargo ships and whalers cruised the waters, but today's pleasure boaters will find the same steady winds and unsullied bays. The experience is not one of glamour, nightclubs, and duty-free shopping, but rather of the rich life of the sea—a life that can be yours exclusively, even for a brief time, as you anchor in a concealed cove off Canouan, not a soul in sight, easy-listening waves slapping your hull. Swim, snorkel, amble down to the galley and whip up one of those froufrou, umbrella-dressed tropical drinks. It's living well, and the next island, always in sight of the last, is where you'll be very soon.
Practically Speaking:
The islands themselves are more rustic than polished, with small villages for "capitals" and sparse populations relatively unaffected by tourism. For sailors, however, facilities are on par with demand; moorings are plentiful, harbor slips are always available for repairs and replenishment.

The Grenadines number 32 islands (or as many as 600, if you include rocks, sandbars, and islets) that stretch some 45 miles between St. Vincent in the north and Grenada in the south. Politically, most are affiliated with St. Vincent (its official name is St. Vincent and the Grenadines), while several, notably Carriacou and Petit Martinique, are within the Grenada borders.
Your options when chartering a yacht range from day charters to long-term charters, either with crew or bareboat (you crew yourself), with a group or by yourself. As well, you can opt for power yachts over sailing vessels.
Crewed yachts come with professional sailors, and have the options of meals, fishing and sporting equipment, perhaps a bar, and other choices. Costs vary with options, with the season, and with the number of passengers on board. They can be expensive, from $2,000 per week, without provisions. Others offer all-inclusive packages, from about $1,000 per person per week. Bareboat charters start at about $900-$1,500 per week (off-season, two-eight people) for the boat, and require the renters to have sufficient sailing and anchoring experience to handle the boat. In the winter, bareboat charters can range $2,000-$6,000 for two to as many as ten passengers. One option: charter a bareboat and work as crew, but hire on a skipper who knows the ins and outs of the local waters.

Karl Luntta is the author of Moon Publications' Jamaica Handbook, Caribbean Vacations, Virgin Islands Handbook, and Caribbean Handbook , as well as several other guidebooks to Caribbean destinations, plus Short Nature Walks on Cape Cod, Nantucket, and the Vineyard. Karl has contributed articles and photos, even fiction, to national magazines, websites, and newspapers. He is a columnist with the Cape Cod Times.

Published: 30 Nov 1999 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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