Safe Moorings

Welcome to our list of Marinas and Moorings in the Caribbean and surrounding waters. Although rudimentary at present, with time we hope to grow the list and improve its contents. Feeback and suggestions are welcome, please email us and we will do what we can to help. We also have a huge list of sailing resources in one large file, gleaned from various sources. It takes a very long time to download!

Bahamas

Notes

GEOGRAPHY

The Bahamas are a group of islands in the Caribbean, between Florida to the northwest and Cuba to the southwest.

TIME

Atlantic; GMT/UTC less 5 hours.

CLIMATE

The climate is sub-tropical. Average temperatures are 21 degrees Celsius in winter, 30 in summer. People visit the islands all year round, but the peak tourist season is December to April. The rainy season is May to November, the official hurricane season is June 1st to the end of November. The Bahamas Air Sea Rescue Association (BASRA) monitors VHF 16.

GOVERNMENT

The Bahamas are an independent state within the British Commonweatlth

MONEY

The Bahamian dollar has parity with the US dollar, and the US dollar is accepted everywhere. The major credit cards are accepted: Diners, Master Card, Visa and American Express. Currency can be exchanged in banks, exchange bureaux and hotels. There are cash dispensers on the larger islands.

COMMUNICATIONS

There is a modern telephone system: discounted phone cards are available for international calls. Mobile phones must be registered with the state telephone company (BaTelCo: Tel +1 -242-394-4000; email info@batelnet.bs). If your provider has no agreement with BaTelCo, you will need to purchase a SIM card from them. There are some cybercafes on Grand Bahama Island

LANGUAGE & CULTURE

English is the main language. The urban centres are north American in atmosphere, though traffic still drives on the left, and beachwear is not acceptable in towns. Dressing up in the evening is customary in the main towns.

Public Holidays

New Year's Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Whit Monday, Labour Day (June 5th), Independence Day (July 10th), Emancipation Day (August 3rd), Discovery Day (October 12th), Christmas Day (December 25th) and Boxing Day (December 26th). Holidays falling on a weekend are observed on the following Monday.

HEALTH

Health care in the Bahamas is at US standards, but relatively expensive. There is a restriction on entry of persons travelling from areas of yellow fever infection: those above one year old must have a vaccination certificate.

IMPORTANT ADDRESSES, CONSULATES etc.

British High Commission, Ansbacher House, 3rd Floor, East Street, Nassau. Tel 325 7471-3.

Canadian Consulate, Shirley Street Plaza, Nassau. Tel. 393 2123

Embassy of the United States of America, Mosmar Building, Queen Street, Nassau. Tel 322 1181.

SPECIAL FEATURES

There are many land and sea nature reserves in the Bahamas, with prohibitions which are strictly enforced. For example, long-line fishing is prohibited, and and long-line gear must be stowed below decks in Bahamian waters. You will be given information about nature reserves regulations when you enter the country.

POINTERS

Be sure to read Dave Wheeler's excellent article at htttp://www.vtraveler.com/vt/marine/cruisbah/bahama.html for practical tips on boating and vacationing in the Bahamas. You can find another good article, with more technical information, in the Seacrest library at http://www.seacruising.com/bahama.htm.

Image of Bahamas
Served from http://www.caribbeanchoice.com/tidbits/bahamas/map.htm

Florida

Notes

GEOGRAPHY

Florida is the peninsula extending from the south-east corner of the United States. Reaching into the Caribbean, it has the Atlantic on its east side and the Gulf of Mexico to the west. The land is largely flat and featureless, and until the past few decades was sparsely populated with a rural economy. After the Second World War, a rapid immigration to the coastal areas from other US states brought a tourism and leisure-based economy, depending heavily on boating and sea recreation. This development has dramatically affected the shoreline, converting much of it from natural wetland and beaches to residential and commercial zones. Many areas have come under protection as nature reserves. The lower section of the peninsula has more than a thousand square miles of swampy grassland teeming with tropical wildlife - the Everglades.

Boaters are especially attracted by the sheltered Intracoastal Waterway (ICW), which girdles most of Florida's coastline. The ICW is an artifical waterway connecting the natural rivers, lakes, and lagoons near the coast through a series of canals. Another distinctive feature of the Florida coast is the way it has been named. The Chambers of Commerce along the ICW have each given their stretch of coast a name. The 'First Coast' runs from the Georgia/Florida state line to Titusville. The 'Space Coast', running to Sebastian, reminds tourists of the John F. Kennedy Space Center they can visit at Cape Canaveral. The names 'Treasure Coast', from Vero Beach to Jupiter, and the 'Gold Coast', from Palm Beach to Biscayne, alert visitors to the many historic sites recalling the Spanish Conquistadors' quest for El Dorado and the fountain of youth here. (The Spanish founded the first permanent European settlement in what is now the USA at a place they called San Augustin, now St Augustine, in 1565.) From Key Biscayne, the Florida Keys were already a well-known enough name. The Gulf Coast, from Marco Island to Tarpon Springs, has been repackaged as the 'Sun Coast' for obvious reasons. The 'Big Bend Coast' and the 'Panhandle', stretching round to the Alabama border, already had picturesque and famous names.

TIME

USA Eastern: GMT/UTC less 5 Hours.

CLIMATE

Florida has a year-round mild-to-tropical climate. Temperatures can rise to above 90 Fahrenheit, with near 100% humidity, between June and August. The best weather is between December and March, when temperatures are around 75 Fahrenheit and the humidity is tolerable. There is rain on most days, in the form of short showers. Between August and late October there are heavy tropical storms, with high winds, flooding rains, and sometimes hurricanes.

CULTURE

Florida has a mixture of peoples and cultures. As well as many incoming US citizens from other states, there are immigrants from nearby Spanish-speaking regions: Cuba, Haiti, Puerto Rico and Mexico. Descendents of the native Americans of the region, Seminole Indians, live on three reservations in the south of the state.

Because of the vast size of the state, most of the residents rely on cars, and public transport outside the cities can be sparse. Taxis are plentiful, but cannot always be hailed in the street: a telephone booking may be required. If hiring a car, remember that driving is on the right.

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS

New Year's Day, Birthday of Martin Luther King (third Monday in January), Washington's Birthday (February 15 ), Memorial Day (last Monday in May), Independence Day (July 4), Labor Day (first Monday in September), Columbus Day (second Monday in October), Veterans' Day (November 11), Thanksgiving Day (fourth Thursday in November), Friday after Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day. Holidays falling on a Saturday are shifted to the preceding Friday; on a Sunday, to the following Monday.

HEALTH CARE - is extremely expensive in the US

IMPORTANT ADDRESSES, CONSULATES etc.

British Consulate Miami: Suite 2800, Brickell Bay Office Tower, 1001 Brickell Bay Drive, Miami, FL 33131, Tel: (305) 374 1522.

British Vice-Consulate Orlando : Suite 2110, Sun Trust Center, 200 South Orange Avenue, Orlando FL 32801, Tel: (407) 254 3300.

Canadian Consulate, 200 Biscayne Boulevard, Suite 1600, 16th Floor, First Union Financial Centre, Miami, FL 33131, Tel. (305) 374 6774. Collect calls can be made at any time to Ottawa on (613) 996-8885.

SPECIAL FEATURES

There are some excellent crusing guides to Florida, among them the 'Florida Cruising Directory', published annually by Waterways Etc., Inc., PO Box 21586, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33335, and 'The Intracoastal Waterway, Norfolk to Miami: a Cockpit Cruising Handbook' by Jan and Bill Moeller, published by International Marine, USA.

Leeward Islands

Notes

Leeward Islands

GEOGRAPHY

The Leeward Islands are a group of small volcanic islands in the northeastern Caribbean.

TIME

Atlantic; GMT/UTC less 4 hours, Eastern Standard Time +1 hour.

CLIMATE

The mean temperature is 80 degrees Fahrenheit, without much seasonal variation. Trade winds keep the temperature comfortable at all times of the year, but are stronger in winter. The official hurricane season is from June to October; most storms are in August and September. The best sailing is between April and June.

MONEY

The currency on most islands is the Eastern Caribbean (EC) dollar. The US dollar and major credit cards are widely accepted. Tips (10%) are appropriate if a service charge has not been made already.

HISTORY, LANGUAGE, CULTURE

The islands were colonised by England, France and Holland. Sugar plantations were set up with the labour of slaves brought in from Africa. The present-day populations are largely the descendants of these slaves. The mixture of cultures creates great variety within small sailing distances.

Dress codes are relatively formal. Beachwear is considered inappropriate in towns.

Public Holidays

New Year's Day, Epiphany (January 6), Good Friday, Easter Monday, Labour Day (May 1), Whit Monday, All Saints Day (November 1), Armistice Day (November 11), Christmas Day (December 25), Boxing Day (December 26). Additional holidays for individual islands are shown on the island pages.
Image of Bahamas, Florida, Leeward Islands
Image served from www.turq.com

Greater Antilles

Notes

GREATER ANTILLES

Of the four islands making up the Greater Antilles, only Jamaica and Puerto Rico are established tourist destinations. Cuba is now opening itself to tourism and increasing numbers of US citizens sail there. The island of Hispaniola (divided between Haiti and the Dominican Republic) is a less secure destination. Large numbers of tourists do visit the Dominican Republic, which can be very inexpensive at certain times of exchange rate fluctuation, but reports of the quality of the experience are very mixed, and there are no marinas or tourist boat services.

GEOGRAPHY

The Greater Antilles are a distinct geographical group of four very large and high islands at the top of the Antilles chain. Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica and Puerto Rico are thought to be the tips of a submerged mountain range, extending to the mountains of Central America and Mexico. The Lesser Antilles islands ( The Virgins, Leewards and Windwards) are relatively tiny islands, scattered down from the Greater Antilles across the Caribbean in an arc reaching to the coast of Venezuela.

CLIMATE

The climate is tropical, tempered by the islands' altitude, and Trade winds from the northeast. Temperatures do not vary much during the year: they fluctuate between the low and upper 20's Celsius (low 70's and mid-80's Fahrenheit) from December to April, and between the middle 70's and high 80's Fahrenheit from May to November. There are storms and hurricanes between August and October. The wet season is June to December, though the altitude and variable topographies across the islands can affect this pattern. The basic message is that it is hot, but rainfall is plentiful, and it can rain at any time!

GOVERNMENT

Despite the geographic unity of the Greater Antilles, the islands are far apart from each other politically. Cuba is a communist state, Puerto Rico a self-governing territory of the United Sates, Jamaica an island nation, and the island of Hispaniola is divided between the state of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Virgin Islands

Notes

VIRGIN ISLANDS

GEOGRAPHY

The Virgins are in the north-east Caribbean, between Puerto Rico to the west and the Atlantic ocean to the east.

TIME ZONE

GMT/UTC less 4 hours.

CLIMATE

The climate of the Virgin Islands is subtropical and humid, remaining hot the year round. The eastern trade winds moderate the temperatures. There are storms, sometimes hurricanes, between July and October, and the wet season is August to October. Even so, rainfall is generally very scant, and water conservation is a problem.

GOVERNMENT The British Virgin Islands are Anegada, Jost Van Dyke, Tortola, Norman & Peter Islands, Salt & Cooper Islands, and Virgin Gorda. They are an overseas territory of the UK.

The US Virgin Islands (St Croix, St John and StThomas) are a territory of the US, with a locally elected government.

The islands of Culebra and Vieques are administratively grouped with Puerto Rico, also a self-governing territory of the US.

MONEY

All of the Virgin Islands have the US dollar for currency.

COMMUNICATIONS

There is a modern telephone system. Cellular phones can be rented in the Virgins. There are two companies: Boatphone in the BVI, and Vitel Cellular in the USVI.

HISTORY, LANGUAGE, CULTURE

The population is predominantly descended from slaves brought in from Africa by European colonisers. The official language is English; Spanish and Creole are also spoken.

All the Virgin Islands are linked socially and economically. Water-based tourism and offshore finance are mainstays of their economy. Sun, sea and sand holidays are catered for, rather than shopping and nightlife.

The dress code is relatively formal: revealing beachwear is not acceptable in town and in the evening.

Public transport is limited or non-existent, but there are taxis and rental cars available. Driving is on the left, even in the US Virgin Islands.

Public Holidays

Public holidays are frequent in the Virgin Islands, and food shops close on these days. In addition to New Year's Day, Easter Monday, Whit Monday, Christmas Day and Boxing Day, the holidays specific to the British Virgin Islands are Commonwealth Day (2nd Monday in March), Queen's Birthday (2nd Saturday in June), Territory Day (July 1), August Festival (3 days from 1st Monday in August), St Ursula's Day (October 21), Prince Charles' Birthday (November 14).

The US Virgin Islands take holidays on Three Kings Day (January 6), Martin Luther King Day (3rd Monday in January), Washington's Birthday (3rd Monday in February), Transfer Day (March 31), Memorial Day (Last Monday in May), Organic Day (June 20), Emancipation Day (July 3), Independence Day (July 4), Hurricane Supplication Day (25 July), Labor Day (1st Monday in September), Hurricane Thanksgiving and Puerto Rico/Virgin Islands Friendship Day (October 17), Liberty Day (November 1), Veterans' Day (November 11), and Thanksgiving (4th Thursday in November). These holidays are in addition to New Year's Day, Easter Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Monday, and Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

HEALTH

Most of the larger islands have a community hospital.