The Caribbean season is underway, with many yachts already basking in the island sunshine and others hot on their heels. We all worried that after the devastation caused by Irma and Maria that the 2017/18 season could be a write off, right? Hopefully by now we all realise staying away to let the islanders recover and rebuild on their own is a really bad idea. The island economies rely hugely on tourism, so visiting the islands that are ready to welcome you this season will definitely be the best way we can help.
We’ve put together some vital information for anyone heading to the Caribbean, and those already there, and hope this helps and encourages everyone to support our beloved winter playground!
Obviously before heading out you’ll want to know which ports are up and running, where you can refuel, what services are available etc….. We have found some fantastic sources of information that will help you. Caribbean Yachting Update 2017 – 2018 has been set up by the St. Maarten Marine Trades Association (SMMTA) yachtingstmaarten.com along with their Caribbean partners and colleagues, to give the most up to date information about the state of the islands following the hurricanes. The information here is updated weekly/when new information is received www.caribbeanyachtingupdate2017.com. It gives a list of islands not impacted or minimally impacted by Irma and Maria. These are Guadeloupe, Dominican Republic, Saint Eustasius, Martinique, Saint Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, Trinidad, St Kitts and Nevis, Montserrat, and Antigua. This time last year we brought you Destination Antigua blog.yachtneeds.net/destination-antigua, so take a look and find out the things not to miss if you are heading there! The Antigua Charter Yacht Show is going ahead as planned and will take place this year from 4th – 10th December. www.antiguayachtshow.com
Another great website to check out is www.sailorshelping.org. There is an awesome interactive map of the islands, which is constantly updated with information about Port access status, mooring, docking and anchorages available, potable water, electricity, fuel, groceries, bars and restaurants, customs, and opening day estimates. These guys have also put together a list of volunteer projects that are close to harbours, so that you can easily find ways to help out without having to travel far from your yacht.
We also had a chat with our friend Heather from Erika’s Yacht Agents who are based in the Caribbean and here is what she had to say:
“Since the double hurricane whammies of Irma and Maria, many Caribbean islands have been affected in the most devastating ways. Infrastructure destruction, lives lost, homes flattened, businesses completely shut down – this is the reality in several northern Caribbean countries.
Reconstruction has begun and some islands are already starting to operate. Others are not doing so well. There are many reports and websites giving up to date information on the progress being made.
The southern Caribbean was spared the hurricanes’ wrath. They are still “open for business” and are looking forward to welcoming yachts that are in the region. Martinique, Guadeloupe, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada are all fully open and functional. Antigua is also in good shape and is still a great base for provisioning and maintenance.
Staying away from the Caribbean altogether will not help. The region counts on tourism to a colossal degree. Removing yachts from the region will create even more damage to the economy. Supporting the ongoing economies of unaffected islands is bound to have some knock on effect on those under reconstruction.
Yacht provisioning in the Caribbean is usually a combination of local and imported goods. The climate allows for good growth all year long. Fresh fruits and vegetables, herbs, locally caught fish – straight from the farm or sea into a chef’s galley – what could be better? For those items not native to the area, there are many options. Yacht agents can assist their clients with importing from US or European suppliers. Generally, the receiving country requires paperwork to be provided before the shipment arrives. The agent will handle this on behalf of the yacht client to smooth the way.
Many yachts have been supportive of the reconstruction efforts by carrying aid and construction materials to the affected islands. When airports were closed and commercial ports too badly damaged for larger ships to enter, yachts have managed to sail in and offload to communities in desperate need. It has been heart warming to see the support and solidarity displayed by the yachting community.
Think positive about the Caribbean! It is a fabulous beautiful and diverse area.”
Erika’s is a full yacht agency, working in St Vincent and the Grenadines, providing all the services you will need. Check out their website and get in touch for further information about those areas www.erikamarine.com
Some of the most affected islands are sadly not ready to welcome tourists back this season and efforts are continuing to rebuild vital resources for the islanders. The K1 Britannia Foundation, k1britanniafoundation.org, utilises boats and a passion for sailing to help maritime and charitable projects in St Maarten, one of the islands left in almost total ruins after the hurricanes.
Some of you may recall seeing Company B – UK performing around Port Hercules during MYS and in the Superyacht Pavillion at FLIBS. These talented ladies were helping to promote the relief work in St Maarten run by The K1 Britannia Foundation. There is a huge amount of good that we, the yachting community, can contribute by way of time, resources, donations and general support. So get involved and lets work together to rebuild this beautiful part of our superyacht world!