Sailing and Boating Near Dominica

Sailing and yachting are popular Caribbean pastimes

Photo credit: © Cowbell Solo
 

Although it may be the most challenging way to travel to Dominica, seasoned Caribbean sailors will tell you that using a yacht to travel in the Caribbean Sea is also the most engaging way to move about. Being on board a ship with the wind billowing through your hair and sails is an experience of romance and adventure.

If you simply want to spend a few hours on the water, without the stress and cost of sailing on your own you can join an excursion. Check out the chart below to obtain information on area boating excursions.

Boat Excursions
Name Phone Location
Anchorage Dive and Whale Watch (767) 448-2638 Castle Comfort - 1.4 mi. (2.3 km) South-Southeast of Roseau
Dominica Marine Center (767) 440-2628 Dominica Marine Center - 1.4 mi. (2.3 km) South-Southeast of Roseau
Waitukubuli Adventure Tour Co. (767) 440-2628 Waitukubuli Adventure Tour Co. - Downtown Roseau
Waitukubuli Eco Tours (767) 275-7001 Roseau

Boat Rentals and Charters

Charter brokers help travelers find a suitable yacht and crew for their journey based on the decisions that they have already made on the type of trip they would like to have. Some crews may be more compatible with families with children, while others may be better suited to travelers who want to learn about the sailing process. Brokers will help find a boat with the appropriate space and amenities to suit any group of travelers. Charter brokers are paid by yacht owners to pair yachts with travelers, and may therefore be enlisted by travelers at no charge. Those interested in securing the services of a charter broker can contact the Charter Yacht Broker's Association at 866-901-2922.

Maps

Charter companies who own the actual boats are split into divisions of size and tier. Size relates to the relative number of boats in the company's fleet. Large companies possess a larger number of vessels and can provide guarantees such as boat replacement in the event of a shortage or problem. Small companies have small fleets of vessels but try to deliver the highest level of customer service to those few boats.

The tier of a charter company correlates with the age of the fleet and is divided into a first or second tier. Either tier can be paired with either size category, meaning that a large company can be a second tier company and a small company can be a first tier company. Companies who are in the first tier will have a fleet of boats that is less than five years old. These boats, because of their young age, will typically be equipped with the latest equipment and amenities for travelers, such as water sports gear and phones. Second tier companies, that have fleets of boats that are older than five years, often buy boats off of first tier companies as they age.

Skippered bareboats are for travelers who have some exposure to sailing but may not have extensive or Caribbean sailing experience. Freelance skippers can be assigned to a vessel for the duration of a journey or for simply a few days. Whether it be the location of coral growths, or the wind patterns off of a certain coast, a skipper's knowledge is a valuable resource for obtaining information and advice on sailing the Caribbean. Skippers must be fed by the party chartering the boat and must also be paid a daily wage. Typical rates will run from $80(USD) to $120(USD) a day.

If you're evaluating the option of chartering a vessel, you can call one of these companies:

Charter and Rental Services
Name Phone Location
Dominican Marine Center (767) 440-2628 18 Victoria Street - Roseau
Providence Boating (767) 445-3008 Portsmouth
Sanctuary Yacht Charters (561) 735-4472 Prince Rupert Bay - 1.2 mi. (2.0 km) South of Portsmouth
Wave Dancer (767) 245-2017 Portsmouth

Bareboats, which do not come with any type of crew or skipper, are reserved for the sailors who have been sun stained and wind beaten for years on board of sailboats. For some travelers, the ability to be at the helm of a private boat in the Caribbean will be simultaneously one of the most peaceful and exhilarating experiences of their life. Extensive experience and considerable sailing prowess is required to maneuver a vessel in the sometimes rough waters and winds of the Caribbean, and charter companies will require that travelers provide adequate proof of training and experience. Bareboats may often come without extra amenities such as kayaks and scuba gear. While the control of such an expensive piece of equipment is a hefty responsibility to take on, travelers who have experienced the joy of captaining a boat will gladly accept the burden.

The opportunity to experience sailing in the Caribbean should not be confined to those who have years of experience, and the final type of charter is for those with little or no sailing history. Fully crewed charters will come with a crew that will typically include a captain and a cook. With sailing duties being looked after by the crew, travelers are free to relax and enjoy the scenery. These types of charters allow for travelers to enjoy extra amenities during the voyage, such as scuba diving and sea kayaking. These crewed charters are another way for travelers to begin learning more about sailing, and many crews will allow travelers to undertake simple sailing chores under their supervision. The captain is responsible for the safety of the boat, crew, and passengers and will change the itinerary or route if safety concerns such as storms or coral reefs become an issue. Crews on these chartered boats survive on their tips, and travelers should be sure to tip 10 percent to 15 percent on the cost of the charter.

Docking

Although Dominica is not the most storied destination among Caribbean sailors, its location at the north of the chain of Windward Islands makes it accessible for sailors. Yachts traveling to Dominica should clear one of the three ports of entry. Portsmouth and Anse-de-Mai can be used for clearance in the North, while Roseau is the port of entry in the South. Sailors can contact the Dominica Port Authority on VHF channel 16. The emergency number for police, ambulance, and fire on Dominica is 999. There is no marina, but the most popular spots for anchoring yachts are in Prince Rupert Bay, Mero (Castaways, 767-449-6244) , and at Castle Comfort (767-448-2188). Sailors should receive clearance from customs and immigration before anchoring. A permit will be issued that will allow yachters to move from one location on Dominica to another.

  • Dominica Port Authority
    P.O. Box 243
    Roseau, Dominica
    767-448-4431
    767-448-6131 (Fax)
    E-mail: domport@cwdom.dm

  • Roseau Customs: at ferry terminal or in Woodbridge Bay

  • Portsmouth Customs: on commercial dock

Are you going to travel to Dominica using your own vessel, or one you charter elsewhere? The following chart lists nearby marinas.

Marinas
Name Phone Location
Anchorage Hotel Marina (888) 790-5264 Anchorage Hotel and Dive Centre - 1.5 mi. (2.4 km) South-Southeast of Roseau
Dominica Marine Center (767) 440-2628 18 Victoria Street - 1.4 mi. (2.3 km) South-Southeast of Roseau
Fort Young Dock (767) 448-5000 Fort Young Hotel - Downtown Roseau
Nearby Anchorages
Location Latitude Longitude
St. Joseph Beach - Mero 15.4131277084 -61.4294314384
Woodbridge Bay - Roseau 15.3156016906 -61.3898205757
Coast of Castle Comfort - Wall House 15.2844563525 -61.3754653957
Anse du Mai - Anse Du Me 15.5939407354 -61.3785123825
Prince Rupert Bay - 0.6 mi. (1.0 km) West-Northwest of Portsmouth 15.5814841108 -61.463227272
Soufriere Bay - 5.3 mi. (8.5 km) South of Roseau 15.231771571 -61.3619846106
Soufriere Scotts Head Marine Reserve - Scotts Head Village 15.2147751518 -61.3682878017
Toucari Bay - 2.4 mi. (3.8 km) North of Portsmouth 15.6101974895 -61.4655661688
Marceau Bay - Capuchin 15.6295427829 -61.4644289017

Prospective sailors must make several decisions based on sailing experience and vacation plans when chartering a yacht. The time of year you sail is an important consideration because the area in the north of the Windward Islands is susceptible to strong Atlantic hurricanes. Once a time of year has been selected, sailors can deliberate over how long the trip should last and how to plan the itinerary. Longer trips will mean that more food must be stocked and bought during the trip. Food can be stocked on the boat by the charter company at a typical rate of approximately $25(USD) per person per day. Stocking the boat with food can help save money, but travelers should be aware that supplies may not always be easy to come by during a voyage, especially at some of the less developed islands. While there are locations on Dominica, such as Roseau, where travelers can stock up on food, supplies may not always be readily available. Compiling a list of supplies can help travelers keep track of the amount of food and equipment they will need on the trip. Itineraries that include a number of stops at different islands will also become expensive because of customs, immigration, and docking fees. The party of travelers that will be present on the boat should also affect the itinerary.

Yachting journeys can be catered and shaped to meet the expectations of the party chartering the boat, regardless of whether they are being assisted by a crew. The size and experience level of the sailing party should help determine the size and type of the vessel that is chartered. The seasoned sailor may prefer a monohull boat, which will rock more at anchor. Many feel that this is a more authentic sailing experience, and that sailing in a monohull is reminiscent of the experience of the sailors who first explored the Caribbean region. Large groups, or groups that have trouble with seasickness, should charter a catamaran. Catamarans help prevent seasickness by not rolling at anchor and typically provide more space and privacy to passengers. Walls can be soundproof, and standard 45-foot catamarans will have four ensuite rooms. Smaller vessels may have 2 or 3 bedrooms and 2 or 3 bathrooms. The tackling and sailing techniques will differ on monohulls and catamarans, so sailors may want to choose a boat they feel familiar with, especially if sailing without a crew.

Decisions should also be made concerning the itinerary of a trip. While this aspect may have to be negotiated with a captain, travelers sailing alone can choose to sail where they please. Some travelers may prefer to see a number of different islands or even just a number of different areas on a single island. Some members of the sailing party may also wish to participate in water sports such as sea kayaking and scuba diving. Including this equipment on a boat may result in additional costs.

Although Dominica is not the most popular sailing destination in the Caribbean, it is clustered in the Windward Islands between Martinique and Guadeloupe. Travelers should not have trouble reaching the island if they wish, and the experience of disembarking from a vessel onto this lush and unspoiled tropical landscape may call up visions of the distant past.

 

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