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Sailing is one enjoyable way to see the new Helen of the West Indies, St. Lucia

An Appetite for the Wet

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For centuries sailors have been enjoying their journey to the island of St. Lucia, which is so beautiful it was given the nickname ???Helen of the West Indies.??? Whether your goal is to start out in the Caribbean and make your way to many islands, or simply to sail to St. Lucia from anywhere in the world, you'll find St. Lucia has plenty to offer.

St. Lucia is a popular sailing spot and, in part because of its popularity, it's home to many ports through which sailors can make their way onto the island. In fact, the government of St. Lucia has actively encouraged yachting, with an eye toward making this island one of the Caribbean's top yachting centers.

Enter at:

Port Regulations Contact(s)
Castries Yachts must first anchor at customs or, if customs is full, the quarantine dock. There is a fine for noncompliance.Yachts may anchor in front of Castries Town or Vigie Creek. CustomsPhone: 758-452-3487
Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. weekdays
Castries Yacht CentreLocated in Vigie
Phone: 758-452-6234
Fax: 758-453-2653
VHF Channel 16
Offers marina service, repair facilities, 35 ton travelift, and slipway.
St Lucia Yacht Services Located in Vigie
Phone: 758-452-5057
VHF Channel 16
Marigot Bay Customs must be your first stop when entering St. Lucia, here it is on the right side of the harbor by The Moorings' fuel dock. Customs Phone: 758-451-4257
Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. weekdays
The Moorings marina Phone: 758-451-4357
Fax: 758-451-4230
VHF Channel 16, 85
Fuel, water, and provisions are available. Employees may undertake outside work when not needed on their own yachts.
Rodney Bay Tie up as close to the customs dock, marked by yellow posts, as possible, and report immediately to customs. The crew may not disembark until formalities are completed. No docking fee is charged for travelers are only coming to clear customs.
A word of caution: Rodney Bay Marina's entry channel has a reported maximum depth of just 13 feet (4 meters).
CustomsPhone: 758-452-0235
Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. every day including Sunday. Friday night hours are from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Marlin Quay Hotel & Villa Resort Phone: 758-452-0393
Fax: 758-452-0383
E-mail:
Rodney Bay Marina & Boatyard P.O. Box 1538, Castries
Phone: 758-452-0324 or 758-452-8215
Fax: 758-452-0185
VHF Channel 16, 68
E-mail:
Facilities include shops and Internet caf??. There are a 50-ton travelift, dry storage facilities, and repair services at the boatyard.
Waterside Landing Rodney Bay, Gros Inlet
Phone: 758-452-0640
St Lucia Yacht Club Reduit Beach, Rodney Bay
Phone: 758-452-8350
E-mail:
Soufri??re Report to Customs upon entry. CustomsPhone: 758-459-5656
Hours: Daily from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Vieux Fort Customs is located by the container terminal, and Immigration may only be located at the Hewanorra Airport. Clearance can only be completed here weekdays during business hours. All other times travelers must go to Hewanorra Airport.
Travelers who have visited in the past may want to make note of a recent addition: A ???small craft port??? is located approximately two cable lengths from the commercial dock behind a large wave breaker. This has helped to alleviate the problems smaller crafts found in docking, and is located walking distance from the center of town.
Customs
Phone: 758-454-6565
Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. weekdays

Dangers

When sailing the Caribbean it's always best to take care and watch for coral reefs as well as harsh Trade Winds sweeping in from the Atlantic. However, these aren't the only concerns sailors may face. Remember that the peak sailing season for St. Lucia is from December until June, though this does overlap with much of the high tourist season in the region as well. Visitors will find higher prices, but less rainfall. Rainfall is a summer-oriented concern, but summer also brings hurricane season (June through November) ??? which can be unpleasant should a storm be passing nearby.

Charter Style

Charters are available for everyone from the experienced yachtsman to the first time sailor. No matter what you're looking for, you can find it. Visitors can sail around St. Lucia on a bareboat, skippered bareboat, and crewed charter.

Bareboats are, just as they sound, a boat, and that's about it. You become the crew, and they rarely come with large numbers of extras like kayaks or scuba equipment. Instead travelers get to enjoy the experience of sailing on their own around the Caribbean. These, however, do require a great deal of knowledge about sailing, and often some knowledge of the Caribbean.

Occasionally charter companies will feel that a traveler is fit as a sailor, but not knowledgeable enough about the area, this can mean they'll require the traveler to charter the bareboat with a skipper ??? at least for the first days of the journey. However, travelers can choose this option on their own as well. It is a great way to learn about the region, but can cost nearly as much as a crewed charter. Still, for travelers who love to sail, a crewed charter is no substitute for a bareboat. Remember, though, that individual skippers do charge by the day for their services, even if you add them at the request of the charter company.

Crewed charters are, however, a great option for travelers who don't know much about sailing, but want to experience the famed waters of the Caribbean firsthand. Crewed charters include everything a traveler needs to enjoy their journey, including captain and even cook. Such charters generally include more of the extras as well, allowing travelers to enjoy their time in many ways, whether snorkeling or kayaking.

One thing that travelers on crewed charters need to keep in mind, however, is that the captain is in charge. Safety of both the ship and its occupants is paramount, and, should the skipper need to make travel changes based on weather or other dangers, they can do so. Captain and crew may even suggest some excellent, and safe, alternatives for your travels.

Chartering a Yacht

There are plenty of ways to get yourself into a yacht charter, but the most common are through charter companies and charter brokers. Charter companies come in several different styles, while charter brokers act like travel agents and matchmakers, finding the best charter for any one person.

When it comes to charter companies, there are two sizes: large and small. These classifications actually make it easy to divide such companies by their services. Larger companies may not offer any less customer service than small companies, though some smaller companies have chosen to stay small in order to provide what they feel is the best customer service possible.

In fact, the biggest difference between the companies' sizes is that larger companies may have the ability to better help clients should trouble arise. For example, should a particular yacht be unavailable as scheduled, charter companies will often offer travelers a comparable or larger yacht at no extra cost. This is more easily facilitated by a larger fleet, as large companies have more yachts to choose from.

Charter companies also come in tiers. First tier companies are not the companies with the best service or quality, but instead with the newest equipment. Boats of under 4 and 5 years old are the only ships used by first tier companies. Second tier companies often purchase their boats from the fleets of these first tier companies, so the ships come at a lower cost, but often with fewer electronic goodies, such as cell phones and CD players, as well.

Charter brokers, on the other hand, represent the yacht owner and can both facilitate bareboat and crewed charters. Crewed charters are especially tricky as travelers seek to find a crew that is both knowledgeable and a good personality match for their journey. Don't forget: You'll be living with the crew for the duration of your charter, personality can make a big difference. Travelers can also enjoy the services of a charter broker at no cost to them ??? brokers are paid by yacht owners, not clients.

Two important trade organizations help travelers to pick out quality charter broker services. The American Yacht Charter Association (AYCA) and Charter Yacht Broker???s Association (CYBA) have members around the world.

In the Caribbean:
Charter Broker Telephone Number
Crewed Charters (U.S. Virgin Islands) 800-874-2584
Nicholson Yachts Worldwide (Antigua) 800-662-6066
617-661-0555
268-460-1530
Paradise Connections (U.S. Virgin Islands) 877-567-9350
340-774-1111
Regency Yacht Vacations (U.S. Virgin Islands) 800-524-7676
284-495-1970 (BVIs)
Stewart Yacht Charters (U.S. Virgin Islands) 800-432-6118
Yates Yachts (U.S. Virgin Islands) 866-994-7245
970-871-6002


In Florida:
Charter Broker Telephone Number
Broward Yacht Sales Charter Division 954-763-8201
Charter Specialists 800-479-9054
305-852-9196
Fraser Yachts Worldwide 954-463-0640
June Montagne Yacht Charters 954-217-2992
Marine Group of Palm Beach, Inc. 561-627-9500
Nicely-Dunn Yacht Charters 800-874-0724
305-852-5136
Paradise Yacht Charters 954-462-0091
Rikki Davis, Inc. 954-761-3237
RNR Yacht Charters 800-525-2526
954-522-9563
Tom Collins Yachts Worldwide 800-637-5407
Whitney Yacht Charters, Inc. 800-223-1426
Yachtstore, Ltd. 888-376-5198
954-791-1737

Choosing Your Yacht

Travelers who are looking to charter a yacht are certainly making an important decision. Because of this, it's best to consider all your personal needs and be well-informed. This decision will often greatly effect the quality of your vacation. Before you choose a ship, learn a little more about the options. Sailors may be aware that 3 cabin, 2 bath monohull charters are the most popular. These ships can run from 36 to 50 feet long, but remember, not only do larger ships take more skill to sail, they also come at a higher cost. These are suggested for at least two couples, and the costs become lower as they are split between more travelers.

Keep comfort in mind, however. Travelers may want to charter a boat with one more room than they intend to use. Those traveling with children may also want to avoid a monohull boat because they are made with thin, plywood walls which tend to allow even conversations straight through. The extra room allows for a little more privacy, as do the design of catamarans.

Catamarans are recommended for families and first time sailors. There is generally less roll in port on a catamaran, making them safer for children, and more comfortable for travelers who may experience seasickness, but this smoother ride may not be precisely what an experienced sailor is looking for. They are also considered to have more comfortable cabins.

A few pieces of equipment can also go a long way to making your journey a breeze, but they may be considered extras. Some might want a power windlass to help you anchor, or a canvas top for sun protection in the cockpit. Kayaks and other sports equipment may cost a little extra as well if they're not included in the charter. Even GPS and CD players can be extras, though they may be included. Be sure to ask for exactly what you're getting, and the cost on any additions you may want to make.

Costs and Paperwork

Once you know what you're looking for in a yacht, it's easier to begin narrowing down your specific costs. Still, there are plenty of considerations you can make to help determine what you'll find yourself spending.

Optional extras that many travelers enjoy can add to the cost, but what can be an even larger addition is one that many vacationers forget about: food. While charter companies may offer to stock your ship for you, it is usually more cost effective to stock it yourself. What you gain from having the charter company take care of it for you is convenience ??? bringing food through customs is difficult, and much would have to be purchased on-island.

When bringing any kind of crew, you'll incur an additional cost. Skippers will have their own daily rate, usually between $80(USD) and $120(USD) daily. Crewed ships will require a tip for the whole crew, including the skipper ??? who does not earn a daily rate when part of a crew. Crew tips should be between 10 and 15 percent of the charter's cost, and this tip makes up 30 to 50 percent of a crew's income, so it's important to factor this into your budget. Time of year changes the costs of everything in the Caribbean, and high season on the islands generally coincides with sailing season. This means you'll be paying a little more throughout your vacation if you sail in the winter months.

Of course, don't forget to read the fine print. Most charters cannot be cancelled and refunded within 60 days of the charter's intended starting date. Further, any deposit and insurance charges may be best put on a credit card, should mishaps occur.

With all of these details in mind, it's easy to have a safe and, of course, enjoyable trip to one of the Caribbean's growing hotspots for sailing, St. Lucia.



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