Just as background and a reminder, the Grenadines are a chain of beautiful little islands in the S. Eastern Caribbean that through the ages, have attracted cannibals, explorers, sailors, planters, celebrities and tourists. Even the British Royal family takes up residence there from time to time.
The Grenadines are generally considered part of the Windward group of islands. Each island has a separate personality and their individual cultures should be treated with value and respect. The Grenadine islands are a part of the British Commonwealth. Most are part of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, however there are a couple (Carriacou and Ronde Island) that actually belong to Grenada, which is a separate crown dependency.
Sailing or simply moving around in a motor yacht among these islands is quite different from cruising the Virgin Islands. The Eastern shores (the windward side) of these islands can get quite rough during certain times of year and moving from island to island involves open ocean crossings with the ensuing Atlantic swells mostly coming from the NE.
The Grenadines are somewhat more complicated to fly in and out of; compared to say, the Virgin Islands or St, Martin, Antigua and the Leeward islands due to the absence of a large airport with direct flights from the United States or Europe. So, if you are planning a visit or a charter in the Grenadines here are some words of wisdom that may make your trip less stressful.
1. Give yourself enough time
If you only have 7 days, you should NOT attempt to see all the islands on one trip. One-way trips are highly recommended but you’ll need 10 to 14 days to see the islands comfortably or you’ll find yourself spending too much time sailing and too little time hanging out and getting to know the islands.
Many of our clients who are on tight one week schedules find it more convenient to fly into Union Island which is right in the middle of the archipelago. This involves, however, taking a second flight on a local airline from St. Lucia or Grenada or Barbados.
The bottom line is this: if you do a Union Island-to-Union Island charter, you’ll get to see the best of the Grenadines in a week. The near by islands you can visit include Union, Mayreau and the Tobago Cays, Canouan, and maybe even Mustique or Carriacou. A total distance of between 60 to 80 nautical miles. Easy to do in a week. Plenty of down-time to explore or take it easy and just hang-out.
2. Plan your itinerary from North to South
The prevailing winds and wave patterns are from the N. East. so the logical thing to do on a one way charter is go with the flow, Joe. Start somewhere in the North and go South.
The best itinerary, if you have 10 or 14 days to spare, is to start in St. Lucia which has a large international airport, and work your way south and get dropped off in Grenada which also has a decent airport with regular flights to Barbados, Trinidad and St. Lucia. Total Distance 160 nautical miles. Too much for a week. Even sailin’ fast and livin’ slow.
3. Choose your embarkation and disembarkation points very carefully
Your pick-up location will depend on how much time you have to explore these lovely islands but it will also depend on your choice of airline, airport and if you have the patience and good nature to put up with the somewhat unreliable service of the small local airlines.
If you start in St. Lucia which has direct flights from the United States, you will spend the first day and a half just getting to Bequia which is the Northernmost Grenadine island. That means another day and a half to get back to St. Lucia, so three days out of your week have been spent just to get to the beginning and end of your charter. Not good.
One way itineraries are better – so if you start in St. Lucia you could get dropped off in Union, for Example. Total distance about 90 nautical miles. Easily doable in a week.
Notes of caution:
You’ll note that I have skipped St. Vincent altogether although, if you are a bareboat enthusiast, there are a couple of bareboat operating company bases in Kingstown. However, St. Vincent itself has an unenviable reputation and a high crime rate. Best to bypass it altogether.
Don’t fly into Grenada and start from there, most of the time, you’ll be fighting the wind and seas all the way up the chain of islands.
Let us help you with your Grenadines yacht charter, or simply call us at 877-759-8263. We have a fine selection of catamarans, single-hull sailing vessels and, of course, luxurious motor-yachts.