Monohull or Catamaran?

It is true to say that many a purist wouldn’t be caught dead in a catamaran, however we are finding that just as many people are starting to appreciate the benefits which they present.

The question needs to be asked, what kind of sailor are you or what kind of sailors are your crew? Many fair weather sailors, novices, older people and younger people appreciate the stability and space which a catamaran offers. A hard-core monohull sailor once said: “When I sail a cat, it feels like I am driving my living room!”  We see how this description is either appealing or not appealing, depending on who you are. This stability and void of healing are the main features which purists dislike and many a fair weather sailor does like!

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Far too often we hear heart retching tails of sailors who are forced to settle for a week in a hotel. They are often out voted by their very own family or people who just don’t share their same passion for monohull sailing. We believe that catamarans could well be the answer and middle ground for many. Is it better to spend a week sailing a catamaran or being land locked and not sailing at all?

Traditionally there has been a definite price difference between catamarans and monohulls, however this gap in most cases is shrinking as catamarans are becoming more and more plentiful.

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Catamarans are great for entertaining with their wide open spaces, easy flow from cockpit to saloon and not often can you blame a spilt drink on the sea. The shallow draft also makes for much closer beach access and davits for convenient dingy access.

It must be said that catamarans do not always add to the ease factor. In busy Mediterranean ports and marinas, space is a scarcity and monohulls do trump catamarans in this scenario. The wide beam can make finding a berth challenging, but when you find a space catamarans do trump on manoeuvrability due to their twin props. Catamarans are very popular and even more common than monohulls in; the Caribbean, the Seychelles, Thailand and other popular tropical charter locations.

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Perhaps catamarans are still not for everyone, but they certainly have a place for many. Give them a try and see for yourself, you might be pleasantly surprised. For those of you who need less persuading, why not ask LateSail for a catamaran quote for your next charter.

Happy sailing

When’s the Best Time to Visit the BVI?

As with any destination the weather in the BVI fluctuates throughout the year. Of particular interest to sailors of course are the winds, the crowds and chances of rain and storms.

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The British Virgin Islands

Exciting Winds and Good Times

From December to February you can expect the BVI to really pull out all the stops in terms of gorgeous weather. There are sunny skies, little chance of rain and moderate daily temperatures for hanging out on deck or on land. The winter months (November to January) bring winds of 15-20 knots, with the Christmas winds blowing at 25-30 knots for several days at a time.

This is one of the best times to visit the BVI and the number of visitors does reflect this, but if you’re looking for a party, this will be the time to find it! Sailors and merrymakers flock to the islands for the holidays, making for a lively vacation with plenty of opportunities to have fun and get involved.

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The Beautiful Weather only Gets Better

During the period from February to May the weather warms up a bit and the winds remain at around 15-20 knots.

There are several events that draw visitors during this time, including the Kite Jam in February and the BVI Spring Regatta in April, but travelers do report getting good rates on flights. You may have to contend with some crowds but the gorgeous conditions can more than make up for it.

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When Things Slow Down

In May and June the busier season comes to an end. Things slow down, as do the winds. It is a time when you can enjoy plenty of space for anchoring and far fewer visitors.

At this time you may find less restaurants open and less people to chat with but it’s a very peaceful time to visit. The islands generally have quite a low amount of rainfall but there is a chance of showers starting in July.

This is also the time of the BVI’s Emancipation Festival, which actually could be a good reason to schedule your charter in late July or early August. It is a colorful celebration of the islands’ history and culture- the local music, food fairs and parades can make for a great complement to your sailing time in the Caribbean!

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Slight Risk of Hurricanes

From September to November the islands have their chances of hurricane. You’ll still have very decent weather and temperatures, with steady winds. If your dream is to have a BVI beach all to yourself and really enjoy that desert island feel, this is probably the best time to come.

As you can see the best time to sail in the BVI can really depend upon your preferences and group interests! Each season brings something different, but we can help you find the best rates for the time you want to travel.

Our staff’s years of experience also means we can also help personalize a trip plan to your unique needs and preferences.

Fun Tips for Celebrating Christmas in the BVI

Heading to the BVI around Christmas? Aside from the great sailing winds you’ll also be able to enjoy this festive time of year amidst the area’s vast beauty and a good number of spirited yachties.

Here are a few fun tips for making Christmas in the BVI fun and festive, on board and on land.

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Christmas Dinner at a Restaurant

There are a number of very good restaurants on the BVI, distributed throughout the various islands. A few that offer good Christmas meals (and great food in general) are the famous Foxy’s on Jost Van Dyke, Scrub Island Resort, Cooper Island Beach Club, Peter Island Resort, The Dove in Road Town, Tortola and the Bitter End Yacht Club on Virgin Gorda.

Christmas Dinner on Board

You can also of course prepare a great Christmas Dinner on board! With some good planning and provisioning in advance you can make it as elaborate or simple as you like.

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Plan to have a few drinks on board and perhaps invite your neighbors over for some appetizers to spread the Christmas cheer. There is no shortage of people looking to make friends and party!

While you’re at it, why not decorate your boat in the spirit of Christmas? This will be good preparation for the Annual Holiday Boat Procession.

Christmas Parties and Events

There is a lot to see and do at this time of the year, as the BVI essentially turns into a big party from Christmas Eve to New Year’s (also known as Old Year’s).

You’ll see local homes decked out in festive lights, ribbons and ornaments as well as palms decorated as Christmas trees. Tortola’s main street is one of the centers of the action, with plenty of music, food and general merrymaking.

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On Virgin Gorda Spanish Town is the place to be, with similar festivities to Tortola, and on the 24th you can take part in the Annual Holiday Boat Procession. Kit out your boat with fun stockings, lights and other Christmas decorations and join the other charterers for the parade.

As you can see this is a bustling, joyful time in the BVI- the entire area enjoys Christmas carols on the radio stations, and people are there to really enjoy the holidays in the Caribbean. It’s a fun place to be-  and this is to say nothing of the Old Year Celebration at Foxy’s.

For more information, please feel free to contact us. Our experts have years of experience sailing the BVI at all times of year.

The LateSail Difference: Bareboat Charter Brokers with Experience

When it comes time to book a sailing charter many seasoned sailors are well aware of the fact that you don’t have to book directly from a larger operator.
Brokers can often help you find the very best deal around, especially if you’re willing to go on slightly shorter notice. Just like the people who have become experts at finding the cheapest flights on the internet, sailors are becoming much savvier when it comes to finding the best prices; much of this has to do with the broker.LateSail

So how do you choose your broker?

There are many new bareboat charter companies that have recently come onto the scene, offering good holidays and reasonable rates. LateSail, however, puts years of experience at each client’s disposal.logo 300dpi
If you haven’t already sailed in a certain destination it can be hard to figure out exactly when and where to go. Your charter will only last a short time and you want to ensure you really make the most out of every day spent out on the water. This is where an experienced team can really make the difference!
There are so many factors involved when it comes to planning a successful charter- from the group you decide to sail with to the boat you choose, and perhaps most importantly; where to go.
Friends can offer advice but when it comes time to make your payment you want to be really sure you’re getting exactly what you bargained for.
Our service means you won’t just hand over your credit card details and arrive in port to make your way wherever the wind takes you. By the time our clients are ready to board their flight to Athens, for example, or touch down in Tortola, they’ve received extensive information about every aspect of their charter.
Instead of just reviewing offers online and quickly processing payment, those who reserve with LateSail can enjoy a full informational chat if they so desire. Our staff has over 65 combined years of personal experience in many sailing destinations. This means they can advise on where to go, what time of year, what not to miss and which boat will be best.
Access to thousands of discounted charters also means we can take any and all budgets into account when searching for the right offer.
A quick look at our Meet the Team page will show you that our team members really span the globe, not only in terms of location but experience and knowledge as well. We have people with years of experience guiding groups in the Caribbean, as well as those who have a passion for sailing in the Eastern Med. LateSail’s Dan Lockyer was a professional skipper in both the Mediterranean and the Caribbean before founding the company in 1999.

One of the best reasons to give LateSail a call is that there will be someone on the other end ready to personalize your sailing experience and tailor a charter offer just for you.
Some skippers are just setting off on their first solo voyage, while others are experienced sea dogs just looking for the best offer. Whether you’re looking for a breezy sailing experience in well charted waters, or want to try something new and different we can present you with a range of options.
LateSail also recognizes the fact that some sailors have been there and done that; they know where they want to go and how much they’d like to pay, no additional information necessary. For this there is our Name your Price option, where we will find a suitable charter at the right price.
With such an experienced team clients can really enjoy a higher level of service; one where from start to finish their charter broker does everything possible to ensure each vacation lives up to all expectations.

Exploring the Blue Holes of the Bahamas

The Bahamas are a set of low-lying islands off the southeast coast of Florida, north of Cuba and the Dominican Republic. What is particularly interesting about them is that they were not formed by any volcanic activity, making them low-lying far-reaching islands with long sweeping sandy beaches.Bahamas_white_sandy_beach

One of the coolest aspects of the Bahamas’ formation and geography is the formation of blue holes. These occur when the ceilings of massive limestone caves collapse, resulting in a circular expanse of deep blue water visible from the sky.

The blue holes are located both inland and in the open ocean of the Bahamas. They are fascinating places to dive, snorkel and explore!

The Bahamas are full of blue holes, but the island of Andros has proven to be the central focus for those looking to explore the largest number of caves. Here divers of all levels can experience cave diving at its best. With the help of a guide it is possible to delve into the deepest depths of the island, following ancient underwater paths that often lead to small openings opening into majestic spaces with vast expanses.Diving_blue_hole

Snorkelers can enjoy the blue holes and caves of Andros on the southern end of the island. The openings of caves are often teeming with tropical fish that are easy to see on the water’s surface.

Long Island is home to the massive Dean’s Blue Hole, which is the deepest blue hole in the world; an interesting factoid for anyone who has experienced the famous Blue Hole of Belize or snorkeled the cenotes of the Yucatan peninsula.

A visit to any of the blue holes, large or small, is enough to make your charter in the Bahamas truly unique – as if you needed another reason to visit these beautiful islands!

Guests are fascinated by just how clearly you can see how the caves were formed when they were still above ground. Stalactites and stalagmites are only formed when exposed to oxygen and they make for a dazzling sight to see.

Contact us for more information.

Island Hopping in the BVI

The British Virgin Islands consist of more than 45 islands, many uninhabited. It is worth planning your trip so you can spend some time on as many of the islands as possible. Island hopping in the BVI offers dramatic coastlines, superb water quality and some of the most beautiful islands anywhere in the Caribbean.

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Here is link to a great article featured in the US Airways Magazine, about Island Hopping in the BVI.

http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/pace/usairways_september2014/#/42

Maybe it will inspire you to start planning your own trip to this beautiful sailing destination.

 

See us at Southampton Boat Show, 12 to 21 September on stand J061

SBSOnce again our team will be down at Southampton boat show between 12 and 21 September. LateSail will be exhibiting on Stand J061 and we look forward to meeting our clients both past and future. Southampton is one of our favourite shows, with so many yachts on display, and a beautiful waterside setting. What better time to start planning your next trip afloat, come and see Dave, Dan, Russell and Lynn to discuss your plans.

Online booking now LIVE

 

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We are pleased to announce that our website now includes Live availability for a limited number of fleets, enabling you to book these offers online. The live offers are shown with the LIVE symbol. We will be adding more and more yachts to the live section over the coming months so for those of you who know exactly what you are looking for you can easily book online. For those looking for a little info and advice, remember our experienced team are always on hand to help find you the best deals to suit your requirements.

Online booking now LIVE

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Sailing South to St. Vincent and the Grenadines

It would be difficult to say that anyone could ever actually get tired of sailing in the British Virgin Islands- those short passages and beautiful islands are wonderful to return to year after year. But, perhaps you’d like to try something new; to get off the beaten track.

Sailing South to St. Vincent and the Grenadines

For this there is St. Vincent. If you’ve heard that it’s a beautiful place for sailing you can be sure that the rumors are true- this southern Caribbean paradise is a bit less travelled but offers much in the way of excitement and adventure. It’s a great area to go and get away from it all. Here you can enjoy the landscape as it has been for thousands of years.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines also offer some of the same advantages as the BVIs- many beautiful smaller islands to discover, good facilities for yachties and a good mix of activities for everyone in your group.

Sailing South to St. Vincent and the Grenadines

To get there you’ll need to fly in to E.T. Joshua Airport, which is set to be joined by the Argyle International Airport within the next year. Connecting flights currently arrive from airports such as San Juan, St. Lucia, Grenada and Trinidad. There’s also the option of arriving by sea, setting off from Martinique or St. Lucia, so if you have a bit more time we can help you can explore this option.

Sailing South to St. Vincent and the Grenadines

St. Vincent is composed of the larger island of the same name and the upper two thirds of the chain of islands known as the Grenadines. Sailing south you would find yourself in the Grenadines owned by Grenada and eventually on the spice island itself.

Our St. Vincent charters leave from Blue Lagoon, which is located on the south of the island. From here you can easily sail off to explore the Grenadines and all that they have to offer.

The largest island of the St. Vincent part of the Grenadines, at a size of just 7 square miles, is Bequia which boasts the beautiful Admiralty Bay.  From here you can sail on to Mustique, a beautiful and stylish island frequented by celebrities and royalty like Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge. Stop for a drink at the famous Basil’s Bar- they have a now-famous Blues Festival every Sunday which is a fun outing for the entire family.

Sailing South to St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Relax and sail to the island of Mayreau before really getting out your snorkeling or diving gear for the Tobago Cays. This marine park has so much natural wildlife to enjoy it can make for days of exploration- you’ll find everything from snorkeling to kiteboarding. There is also a protected turtle observation area around the beach in Baradel.

The park charges a fee of $10.00 per person per day, or you can choose to purchase a monthly license for the entire boat. This can be a better option if you’d like to visit for multiple days. Mooring in the Tobago Cays is available but in order to minimize environmental impact on the cays they are limited to 150 vessels. There are also no facilities on the islands, but boat vendors are plentiful especially during the high season- they can supply you with everything from ice to bread to seafood; they even hold barbecues on the beach! Union Island, Mayreau and Canouan also make for good places to head back to for the night.

Sailing South to St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Once you’ve had your fill of exploration you can head back to St. Vincent and if you haven’t already, spend some time exploring its on-land attractions. The island is home to plenty of lush tropical rainforest, the botanical gardens and if you’re up for the hike, breath-taking views from Mt. Soufriere volcano.

Contact us to find the best deals on St. Vincent sailing charters!

What to Do During your Time in the Caribbean

One of the great joys of a sailing charter in the Caribbean is the chance to just ‘be’; to focus on sailing from port to port, watch the sunrises and sunset on deck and maybe stop off for a drink at an oceanfront bar. If you want to return home feeling refreshed, there’s no reason for a rigid itinerary or cramming too much into the trip.

What to Do During your Time in the Caribbean

That being said, you may want to get to know a bit more than the shorelines of each island. You may be accompanied by active teens or even a shopaholic or two. Here is our list of the best things to do in the Caribbean – there’s a little something for everyone, allowing you to plan one carefully-chosen activity for the entire group or help each member decide on their must-see or must-do excursion to complement the sailing experience.

We also recommend reading about the islands you plan to visit to find out what makes them unique. Planning your trip is half the fun, and you’ll find that having a deeper understanding of each island’s history and culture makes your time there even better.

Natural Pursuits

If you happen to be moored on an island that has a rainforest, the chance to explore this fascinating type of eco-system is a great way to balance out your time on the water. Research the island’s national parks to plan a simple hike. St. Lucia, for example, is famous for its lush rainforest. Grenada has the seven sisters waterfalls and of course Jamaica has its Ocho Rios- be sure to bring your swimsuit!

What to Do During your Time in the Caribbean

You can choose to load up your backpack and set off on your own to explore a park (do stick to the trails) or contract a local tour company to be your guide. Aside from walking or hiking, islands with spectacular interior wildlife often offer various types of tours, which brings us to our next category.

Inland Adventure Sports

What to Do During your Time in the CaribbeanWhen you’re in a place as colorful as the Caribbean it can be great to add a one of a kind adventure experience to the amazing surroundings. These are the kinds of things that can really make for great photo opportunities and family memories- what better way to get out of your routine? Check out river rafting, zip-lining and canopy tours. Some can even be booked in advance, for the entire group.

Unique Swimming and Water Adventures

You’ll be able to moor in special snorkeling spots on your own, and these alone make for fantastic (and virtually free!) days in the Caribbean. But, if your group wants to take it to the next level, you can swim with dolphins, sting rays or even whale sharks.

Then there are the adrenaline-pumping water sports to try out, like Flyboard, surfing, windsurfing, water skiing and jet skiing. Kayaking and paddle boarding are a bit gentler although they still require a good deal of balance and skill.

The divers in your group will of course have their pick of famous dive sites, and there are ubiquitous dive operators near all worthwhile locations.

Opportunities for Relaxation

For the less thrill-seeking member of your group, there are plenty of ways to make your sailing charter into an even more-relaxing experience. Spa treatments are readily available in both smaller oceanfront establishments and larger resorts- they are a good way to relax sore muscles from sailing. You can sign up for a full Spa day or just pick and choose your Spa treatments based on healing rituals of the Caribbean. This makes for a more authentic experience; the Rosewood in Little Dix Bay’s Spa menu, for example, offers treatments like a Salt Island Scrub, Virgin Gorda Goat Milk and Honey Wrap and Natural Neem Leaf Facial.

What to Do During your Time in the Caribbean

There are also yoga, Pilates and meditation classes available (among others) for those who wish to add a holistic element to their time in the Caribbean. The islands’ laid back vibe and pristine natural beauty lend themselves perfectly to rest, revitalization and even spiritual awakening.

Cultural Expeditions

You can make your own cultural expedition out of wandering through each island’s ports and villages, strolling through the streets and chatting with shop owners or stopping for a meal in a local restaurant. Or, plan to stop in a larger city to visit museums and sites of interest. Places like San Juan, Puerto Rico  and St. George in Grenada are full of fascinating history. You’ll be able to visit pirate museums, rum factories, spice plantations and many other interesting places depending on which islands the winds take you to.

What to Do During your Time in the Caribbean

Shop Till you Drop

Shopping isn’t for everyone but most groups have at least a few people who want to take home some good souvenirs. From local crafts to natural beauty products and designer brands, the Caribbean definitely has its fair share of shopping opportunities. The US Virgin Islands are completely duty-free, offering great shopping. The French-Dutch Island of St. Martin/St. Maarten also has many boutiques and designer shops. According to Frommer’s it’s a virtual shopping mall on the Dutch side. You can read more shopping advice from Frommer’s here.

What to Do During your Time in the Caribbean

The Gourmet Caribbean

Caribbean cuisine is an adventure of flavors, spices, fresh seafood and exotic fruits. You can sample it from street corners and beachside shacks or prioritize a visit to an upscale restaurant- for some, a vacation simply wouldn’t be the same without experiencing the ‘foodie’ aspect of the destination. If this is you, you can take a look at TripAdvisor’s list of Best Restaurants in the Caribbean or just ask around on each island for the best fine dining experience.

What to Do During your Time in the Caribbean

So there you have it, a quick list of what to do in the Caribbean. This will give you an idea of what there is to do if you ever decide to tear yourself away from the sun, sea, sails and sand!