Sailing and Boating Near Barbados

Sailing to Barbados is possible, but not advised for the faint of heart

Photo credit: © ben.ramirez
 

When it comes to sailing, Barbados is the Caribbean's ugly duckling. Though most of the Caribbean features gorgeous, clear waters and easy sailing, Barbados is surrounded by much rougher waters, further out toward the Atlantic. This is one island only skilled sailors travel to.

While the waters surrounding Barbados can cause their share of difficulties for inexperienced yachtsmen, but unfavorable trade winds and coral reefs can trip up any sailor. Further, the best time of year to sail in the Caribbean is from January through March and overlapping with the peak tourist season, but featuring calmer waters and fewer storms.

If you simply want to spend some time on the water, without the cost and responsibility of sailing on your own you can take an excursion. See the listing that follows to get contact information for area day sail providers.

Boat Excursions
Name Phone Location
Barbados Sailing (246) 262-3792 Barbados
Black Pearl Party Cruise (246) 826-7245 Carlisle House - Downtown Bridgetown
Boatyard Taxi (246) 437-5640 The Boatyard - Downtown Bridgetown
Cool Runnings (246) 436-0911 Carisle Wharf, Hincks Street - Downtown Bridgetown
El Tigre Cruises (246) 417-7245 Cavans Lane - Downtown Bridgetown
Elegance Catamaran Cruises (246) 830-4218 Careenage - Bridgetown
Good Times Catamaran Cruises (246) 422-1900 First Avenue - Holetown
Jammin' Catamaran Cruise (246) 422-1152 Cavans Lane - Downtown Bridgetown
Sail Calabaza (246) 826-4048 Downtown Bridgetown
Silver Moon (246) 435-5285 31E Mario Drive, Rowans Park North - 0.7 mi. (1.1 km) North-Northwest of Bridgetown
Small Cats Catamaran Sailing Cruises (246) 421-6419 28 Prior Park Terrace - Downtown Bridgetown
Tiami Catamaran Cruises -- The Shallow Draft - Bridgetown

Boat Rentals and Charters

While yachts can be chartered from the Caribbean, Barbados itself offers no such services, so you'll have to charter before you reach the island. Your Caribbean yacht rental options are "bareboat," "skippered bareboat," or a "crewed charter."

If you're an experienced sailor, you may decide to charter a bareboat, a rental boat with all the equipment needed to travel the Caribbean but with no crew. If you wish to rent bareboat, you will need to prove your qualifications, and you may be given a tutorial of the Caribbean area including reefs and safe harbors. Remember, however, that rules may be stricter for those who intend to travel to Barbados, as it is known to be tough to sail.

Maps

Travelers with some experience may be asked by the charter company to sail with a skipper for some of their journey. Though it may be at their request, the company will not pay for the services of a skipper. However, travelers looking for another experienced set of eyes and hands can also hire a skipper on their own. Skippers have plenty of knowledge and experience, and are paid by the day.

Travelers booking a crewed charter will find they'll include a skipper and full crew, including a cook. However, remember that the captain calls all the shots on a crewed charter, and, while you may plan the itinerary, if weather or other dangers arise, the captain may need to change the route. This is at the captain's discretion in order to protect the ship and its passengers, including you, but the captain can certainly offer an array of alternatives to improve your journey.

Once you've decided on how you'd like to sail, there are a few other choices to make. Travelers can book either through a charter company or a charter broker. The most popular companies chartering yachts in the Caribbean are The Moorings and Sunsail. Charter companies offer a number of advantages and disadvantages for travelers, and can be broken down into the following groups:

  • Larger and smaller companies: This distinction is almost entirely based on the size of the fleet owned by the company. Larger companies are better able to help customers should there be a problem with your charter for whatever reason. However, smaller companies often stay small on purpose to provide the best customer service they can.

  • First and second tier companies: First tier companies offer newer ships, usually with the most extras, like GPS CD players, and cell phones. However, second tier companies are not a lower quality, simply older. Ships older than four or five years are no longer used in the fleets of first tier companies, and are often sold to second tier companies. However, travelers on a budget may want to look at second tier companies.

Charter brokers, on the other hand, act like travel agents, helping travelers to find the right yacht for them. Travelers planning a crewed charter may especially want to look into the services of a charter broker, as they can help travelers find just the right crew and don't forget, you'll be spending the length of your charter with the crew, so a compatible personality is a must. Further, boat owners, not vacationers, pay for the services of charter brokers, who can often provide quotes from several different companies.

Two main charter broker trade organizations are: the American Yacht Charter Association (AYCA) and Charter Yacht Broker's Association (CYBA). Members of the AYCA and/or the CYBA include these companies:

In The Caribbean
Charter Broker
Telephone Number(s)
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
340-775-0010

 

In Florida
Charter Broker
Telephone Number(s)
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

When choosing a yacht, you'll want to note these cost, size, style, and equipment considerations:

Cost

  • Larger or more amenity-filled ships are more costly to charter.

  • Crewed yachts cost more than bareboats, and the crew is tipped at 10 to 15 percent of the charter's total cost. This makes up 30 to 50 percent of the crew's income, and is important to include in any budgeting.

  • Skippers can cost approximately $80(USD) to $120(USD) per day.

  • Food can be purchased through a charter company and this can be more expensive, but may be much less hassle than purchasing food on-island.

  • Charterers are responsible for feeding all of the boat's occupants, from themselves to crew and skipper.

  • High season charters are more expensive than off-season charters, and costs on islands will reflect the season as well.

  • Don't forget additions like airfare to reach your departure port or customs duties and departure taxes

Size and Style

  • Most travelers find it more comfortable to charter a boat with an extra room.

  • Bareboats are most popularly rented as three cabin/two bath monohulls, which can be anywhere from 36 to 50 feet in length.

  • Crewed charters are usually more spacious than bareboats.

  • Experienced sailors may find monohulls more exciting to sail, but their thin, plywood walls can easily allow sound through.

  • Catamarans feature more comfortable cabins and less roll in port, making them excellent choices for families.

  • Travelers prone to seasickness, or first-time sailors, are advised to choose a catamaran.

Equipment

  • Ask about a power windlass to help you anchor, they may be available and can be invaluable.

  • Some choose to add a canvas top over the cockpit; this can help protect the skipper from sunburn.

  • Bareboats will not always have kayaks or windsurfs, or electronic extras such as GPS. You may want to inquire about the cost of these additions.

  • Crewed charters often have more extras, such as equipment for scuba diving or kayaking.

One final tip: Before you sign, read the fine print. If there are insurance and deposit fees, it's important to be aware, and travelers may want to put these fees on a credit card in case of any problems. Further, a company's cancellation policy can be extremely strict, though most charters are nonrefundable within 60 days of the departure date.

Docking

Barbados has two ports of entry, Bridgetown Harbour and Port St. Charles, just a few miles north of  Bridgetown on the western coast of the island. Port St. Charles is not a commercial port, so many sailors choose to pass through customs there. Keep in mind, however, that Barbados has a somewhat unusual customs rule: You must leave customs through the same port you entered.

Customs charges total B$58.33, with a B$25 fee in and again going out, plus a charge of B$8.33 for an anchoring fee. However, check to be sure these fees are correct as they are subject to change.

Are you going to sail to Barbados using a vessel you own, or a boat you charter elsewhere? This table contains a list of potential docking spots.

Marinas
Name Phone Location
Barbados Yacht Club (246) 427-1125 Bay Street - 1.3 mi. (2.2 km) Southeast of Bridgetown
Careenage Marina -- Bridgetown Harbour - 0.7 mi. (1.2 km) Northwest of Bridgetown
Port St. Charles (246) 419-1000 ext. 2250 Port Saint Charels - Speightstown

Travelers wishing to sail around the island of Barbados will need to ask for a cruising permit. These require submission of an itinerary for your travels. You will need to travel to authorized ports. The Barbados Port Authority is currently devising a map of authorized port areas.

A word of caution: Do not anchor in any area without a sandy bottom. There are coral reefs around the island and there are stiff fines for damaging them.

Those interested in sailing to and around the Caribbean can find their perfect choice in charter yachts available throughout the region. However, you'll have to charter your yacht somewhere other than Barbados.

 

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