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Carib connection

1: Beautiful locations

The Caribbean offers sailing at its best — the climate is virtually perfect and the winds reliable, there’s good shelter in the lee of the islands, and bigger winds and ocean swells for more adventurous sailing between island groups.

Most of the chartering in the region is in the Lesser Antillies — the chain of islands fringing the east of the Caribbean Sea, from the British Virgin Islands in the north to Trinidad and Tobago in the south. The BVIs have some of the easiest sailing in the area — part of the secret of their popularity, while sailing from St Martin/Sint Maartin the conditions are slightly more challenging. Although most of the main islands have seen considerable tourist development over the past 30 years, it’s still easy to find smaller and more remote locations that are largely unchanged.

Picture lying at anchor off miles of palmfringed beaches, enjoying a leisurely breakfast as turtles swim past your boat. You have the option of snorkelling in crystal-clear waters over the reef fringing the bay, rewarded with a magnificent underwater kaleidoscope of multicoloured coral and shoals of brightly painted fish, or just carrying on and enjoying the sailing before mooring off another pristine shoreline beach with a backdrop of tropical rainforest.

In the evening you wander ashore for a restaurant meal under the stars. The food’s great and the staff friendly — it might surprise you the first time they leave at the end of their shift, and ask you to help yourself to drinks and leave the money behind the bar… but don’t worry, you’ll soon get used to it. It’s no wonder the Caribbean is such a favourite destination.

Trade winds usually give near-perfect breezes (Force 4-5) all year, although they tend to be a little stronger in the winter months, but weaker and less reliable in summer. Afternoon temperatures in winter range between 25-29°C and there are generally 22-23 dry days per month, with most rain falling as showers in late afternoon and evening. Summer tends to be a little wetter than winter with 15 or fewer dry days per month. At 31-32°C, summer temperatures are a little higher than in winter, but humidity can be very high at this time of year.

North of Trinidad and Tobago lies the North Atlantic hurricane belt, with the season lasting from June to the end of November. Activity peaks in September, with an average of one tropical storm a week forming in the region. While you’re statistically unlikely to encounter a hurricane during your holiday, the temperature and humidity can make it hot, sticky and uncomfortable at this time of year.

Perhaps the best time of year for visiting the Caribbean is spring or early summer, when prices are lowest (winter is high season here) but the weather decent. January is another good time — the weather is at it’s best, yet it counts as low season for many operators, presumably because few people choose to take holidays so soon after Christmas.

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The British Virgin Islands are the most popular charter destination in the Caribbean

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