The Segmental Info System

Jamaica Sailing and Boating

Strike out on your own for a sailing or yachting trip across the Caribbean to visit Jamaica

Photo credit: © Ggpalms |

Jamaica Sailing


Jamaica lies within the Caribbean, which is known worldwide for its near-perfect sailing conditions. The water is always warm and there are plenty of beautiful islands to visit. Jamaica itself is not widely regarded as a top sailing spot, however, that should not deter interested travelers.

Although it is far from the most popular way to reach Jamaica, intrepid sailors think nothing of climbing aboard a boat and sailing to and around the island. Chartered and personal boats can certainly be sailed into any number of harbors around Jamaica, and those looking for a day of sailing fun have the option of hopping aboard a party boat or procuring a day rental.

Party Boats

Jamaica is an excellent place to host an event on the water. Everything from weddings to birthday parties to product launches can be hosted aboard a large vessel that will accommodate upwards of 100 people. These types of boats are called Party Boats.


While some travelers have their own craft to sail to Jamaica, many other travelers choose to charter a yacht from within or near the Caribbean. Such charters are usually done for a week to 10 days. Should you rent a yacht, you'll need to choose between several charter options: bareboat, skippered bareboat, and crewed charter.

Experienced sailors may wish to charter bareboat, where boat and equipment are included, but you and your companions are skipper and crew. Bareboat charters will require proof of your qualifications, and some include a tutorial of the Caribbean, including important items like the locations of reefs and safe harbors.  There are two types of bareboat charters: voyage charters and demise charters.  On a voyage charter, the owner of the boat remains on board during the duration of the trip, though the charterer is in full control of the vessel.  When the boat owner does not accompany the charterer, this is called a demise bareboat.

The charter company may reserve the right to insist that, based on your knowledge and experience; you take a skipper for at least the first several days of your journey. Should this be the case, the company will not pay the cost of the skipper, that cost will fall to you. However, remember that this decision is to ensure that your travel is safe. You may also choose this option on your own, as a skipper will offer his own knowledge of the region to help you. Skippers are paid by the day.  This option is called a skippered charter.  The thing that most sailors like about choosing a skippered charter is that they get the hands on experience of sailing a boat, but someone more knowledgeable is in charge.

Travelers less ready to sail on their own, or more interested in relaxation, may want to charter a crewed boat. Crewed charters include everyone from skipper to cook, often a husband and wife team, and provide everything you need for your journey. However, one important fact remains: the captain calls the shots. While you will pick out the itinerary, if there is weather or other dangers, the captain may alter the course for your safety. Captains, however, are paid to know the region well, and can help you choose an alternative. They can also help you plan the perfect itinerary when the weather provides the sunny days for which Jamaica is known.

If you are sailing with a large group of people, flotilla sailing is an option you might consider.  In flotilla sailing, you charter more than one boat, and the lead boat is captained by a sailor knowledgeable in sailing and the area who will lead the group, while the rest of the boats are skippered by the people in your party.  This is a great option when you have a number of people who sail on a regular basis and want to get some experience sailing international waters, but do not want to be completely in charge of the course.

Another option for sailors to choose is the type of boat they wish to sail.  When it comes to chartering, yachts and catamarans are the most common options.

A yacht is a luxury craft comprised of a single hull, that can be as small as 20 feet long to as big as hundreds of feet long. Various sizes and styles of yachts have different names, including dingies (small yachts perfect for day trips), pocket yachts (mid-sized boats that are good for weekend trips), and cruisers (large yachts which can withstand days long trips).

Catamarans are distinguishable by their two hulls, where most yachts have only one.  One mast will fly one or two sails depending upon the size of the vessel, and these boats tend to go fast and are easy to maneuver.  The advantages of a catamaran are the high stability the double hull provides, its ability to remain afloat when flooded, and the added size that means more comfort for passengers.

Travelers will also have one last option. Many charter companies offer the option of paying an additional fee for the company to provide you with food for your journey. It is, of course, possible to buy the food yourself, but, while this can be a money-saving option, it has a few drawbacks as well. It is difficult to bring food into the Caribbean through customs. Further, it is possible to buy food in the islands, but it can be difficult, especially if you are not departing from a major island. However, remember that fruits and vegetables must be purchased on the islands. And, of course, you'll be responsible for everyone on board, including skipper and crew.

Charter Companies

Throughout the Caribbean you'll find plenty of different charter companies. These companies, like any other, come in many sizes. First-time charterers are generally guided toward the larger companies. A smaller company may have a great reputation, but should a boat you requested be unavailable, smaller companies might not have the ability to replace it with an equivalent ship, where larger companies will usually offer a similar or even larger boat at no extra cost. However, some of the smallest companies have purposefully stayed small to maintain their customer service standards.

Another way to divide charter companies is into "tiers." These tiers say nothing about the quality or service of the company, but instead the newness of the yachts being chartered. First tier companies have the best boats, and largest number of extras. Boats older than four or five years are usually sold to second tier companies if they are in good condition. First tier companies will cost more for a charter, but boats may include goodies such as the auto pilot function, GPS systems, stereos and cell phones.

Currently, the most popular companies in the Caribbean are The Moorings and Sunsail.

Charter Brokers

Selecting a crewed charter can be more difficult than some would think, but one possible oversight is crew compatibility. Traveling for weeks with a crew means you'll get to know them very well, and this can be difficult if crew and passengers dislike each other. To help solve this problem, charter brokers step in.

These brokers act like a travel agent, offering the quotes from several companies. Further, this service is free for travelers, as the boat owner pays for the brokers services. Brokers can also help vacationers find a bareboat charter.

The two main charter broker trade organizations are the American Yacht Charter Association (AYCA) and Charter Yacht Broker's Association (CYBA). In Florida AYCA and CYBA members include the following companies:

Yacht Charter Brokers
Charter Broker Phone Number
Broward Yacht Sales Charter Division 954-584-0026
Charter Specialists 800-479-9054
Fraser Yachts Worldwide 954-463-0600
June Montagne Yacht Charters 954-217-2992
Marine Group of Palm Beach, Inc. 561-627-9500
Nicely-Dunn Yacht Charters 800-874-0724
Paradise Yacht Charters 954-462-0091
Rikki Davis, Inc. 954-761-3237
RNR Yacht Charters 800-525-2526
Tom Collins Yachts Worldwide 800-637-5407
Whitney Yacht Charters, Inc. 800-382-9666
Yachtstore, Ltd. 888-446-4141

Sailing to Jamaica

Private sailing boats to Jamaica must enter the country through an official port of entry. Immigration and customs services are available at the following ports:

  • Kingston's Port Royal
  • Montego Bay
  • Port Antonio
  • Ocho Rios
  • Port Kaiser
  • Port Esquivel
  • Discovery Bay
  • Bowden

Fly your "Q" flag when sailing into port. If you want to spend time cruising around Jamaica, the customs officers can issue you a "Coastwide Clearance" form. This form allows you to sail at will along the coast and must be presented when visiting other ports.

You will need to clear customs when you arrive at your first port and also when you depart from Jamaica's territorial waters. Customs officers will indicate to the captain when they have inspected the ship and cleared it through customs. You will need to fill out several forms at customs, including the following:

  • Crew list and declaration
  • Departure permission forms from your last port of call
  • The ship's registrations
  • A list of the ship's stores

There may also be a standard form to be completed in triplicate. This form replaces the crew list and requires details of the ship's flag, registration, last port of call and information about each person on board including full name, date of birth, passport number, nationality, and position on the ship.

The Quarantine Officer will tell you when the "Q" flag may be lowered. He will also require a few items as well. Carry a crew list and a maritime declaration of health provided by a quarantine official, to be signed by the captain and including any bill of health or DE-RAT certificate from the last port of call. Unless travelers have visited countries in which the World Health Organization has reported a communicable disease within the past six weeks, vaccinations are not required.

Immigration officials will need to see a crew list and passports or proof of citizenship. Visitors from countries outside of the US may need 30-day visas before they arrive. Travelers will also need to pass through Immigration for stays longer than six months.


Name Address Phone number VHF channel
Royal Jamaica Yacht Club Norman Manley Int'l Airport P.O, Palisadoes Park, Kingston, Jamaica  (876) 924-8685 Unknown
Errol Flynn Marina & Shipyard Errol Flynn Marina, PO Box 188, Port Antonio, Portland, Jamaica (876) 715-6044 16 and 68
Glistening Waters Marina Falmouth, Jamaica (876)  954 3229 Unknown
Montego Bay Marine Park Pier 1, Howard Cooke Blvd, Montego Bay, Jamaica (876) 952-5619 Unknown
Morgans Harbour Port Royal, Jamaica 876-967-8030 Unknown
Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort Hotel Marina Main Street, Ocho Rios, Jamaica 800-618-1299 Unknown
Port Antonio Marina and Boatyard PO Box 188, Port Antonio, Jamaica (876) 715-6044 Unknown
Montego Bay Yacht Club PO Box 1133, Country, Jamaica (876) 979-8038 Unknown
Pier One Marina P.O. Box 1243 Howard Cooke Blvd, Montego Bay 1, Jamaica (876) 952-2452 Unknown

Day Rentals

For vacationers who want to get out on the water, but don't want to spend their entire vacation afloat, renting a yacht for a quick jaunt is a possibility. Day rentals are ideal for a day spent sailing around Jamaica, exploring the island from a different viewpoint, and participating in water sports. You can use the boat for a fishing trip, to sail to a secluded beach for a private dip in the sea, or just to relax on the water.

The types of boats typically available for day rentals include the following:

  • Waterski boats: small vessel that holds up to five people.  Ideal for short tours and water sports.
  • Family cruiser:  seat six people, and includes a cabin for food preparation and shelter from the sun.
  • Runabout: roomy enough for eight passengers, and includes a cabin that 2 to 4 people can sleep in, as well as a food prep area.
  • Cruiser:  seats and sleeps up to 10 people.  This vessel would be comfortable for multiple days at sea.

If you're interested in spending at least part of your Jamaican vacation on the open sea, there are multitudes of options available to you.  Whether you choose to sail to the island aboard a chartered yacht, hire a party boat for a night of fun, or spend a day in the Caribbean sea jet skiing and sailing around the island, the opportunity is there.


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