Sailing in the Caribbean

Guide to Sailing in the Caribbean

Sailing in the Caribbean

Guide to Sailing in the Caribbean

Sailing vacation in January

The weather in January is awesome for everybody longing for a suntan and calm waters. The prices are not so high yet, they climb from February - April to the highest. Spring break is traditionally the highest, pricewise, but charter agencies are still able to give you an offer for an affordable sailing vacation. Those, who sail regularly, absolutely love practically all months in the Caribbean, as they all carry a certain fascination. For those, who can afford just a single sailing holiday in a season, I would still recommend late December and January.


The water temperature is around 80° F, so it is comparable to the sea temperature in April. This lovely warm water temperature might look chilly in the Caribbean but if you consider, that in the Mediterranean, it is the maximum temperature you possibly get, it is really worth considering your sailing vacation spending around Tortola.

January is the best time to go sailing in the BVI for those who love avoiding the crowds.

January might be a bit rainy for a dream sailing vacation, but don't expect 7 days of rain. January in the Caribbean means some rain, but a 20-minute shower is really not going to ruin your catamaran charter. 

January is considered almost off-season, but it is still fairly booked out. For the best deals you should look for some Early Bird discounts in summer rather than wait for the Last Minutes in late autumn. Most catamaran are gone in December and there is not much to choose from at this time.

A Christmas Sailing Vacation in Tortola

Hiring a sailing boat in Tortola during the Christmas season? You can easily pass the Christmas time abouts. Actually, this is the most popular time of the year when sailing enthusiasts and family vacationers flock to one of Tortola's marinas.

Christmas sailing kicks-off the sailing season in this region, which lasts until around Easter time. The weeks before Christmas are considered off-season, sailing is usually possible from the 3rd week of November. 

Is sailing during Christmas safe? There is a possibility you might experience the Christmas winds, but usually not more than for 1 or 2 days during your sailing vacation.

Weather conditions around Tortola during the Christmas holidays are stable. The hurricane season ends in early November. Sailing starts from late November as the water in this time of the year is calm and rain is not an annoyance either. Short showers might appear, but they are nothing that would ruin your family sailing vacation.

Christmas sailing in Tortola is extremely popular, so do expect traffic on sea and in the marina. If you want to rent a boat for Christmas in the BVI, you should plan ahead. Boat booking for Tortola starts in the summer months of July-August. All who want to grab their best boat should think ahead, but it is not impossible to find a sailing yacht free to rent in November. Don't give up and check out some boat booking websites, such as

Sailing licence in the Caribbean

Wondering what sailing licence do you need to embark on a sailing vacation?

You have several options here. This article will guide you, the only thing you have to do is to decide what are your preferences or goals. 

The best option you can probably do is to get your own sailing certificate. Sounds like a sci-fi to you? No reason for that.

Getting a sailing licence that allows you to charter a sailoingboat yourself is actually easier you might think. No school, no boring lessons in a classroom, no embarking with strangers for a week to learn and practice.

How is this possible? Many sailing schools in the Caribbean offer a sailing vacation COMBINED with your lessons. After a couple of days you will end up with a sailing certificate in your hands. 

How does it work?

Simply, you will hire a sailing yacht with a skipper who will organize your personal schooling throughout the charter vacation. And yes, with your family or friends on board with you.

In such a package you will get a wonderful sailing vacation coupled with instruction and you can obtain one of the ASA sailing certificates. 

What are the ASA certificates? There are several types, each allows you to charter a different boat.

The basic ASA licence is the 101 type which is the first step in bareboat sailing. Usually it can be obtained together with the 103 licence. These will enable you to charter a boat up to 20 feet in the coastal regions.

After having these certificates in your pocket, your next step should be the ASA 104. What is this for? It is still a coastal certificate but you can charter with it a boat of 30-50 feet of lenght. This is the point where you want to get! Still in the coastal waters and still only during daylight but don't consider it a limitation. Most chartered do not sail during the night and offshore either.


Bareboat or a skippered boat?

What does it mean to charter a bareboat?

If someone hires a bareboat, she hires it so that she is the skipper herself. That means she holds the necessary sailing certificate or boasts some sailing experience and can handle the boat herself.


First of all, it is cheaper as there is no need to pay for a week's salary to a skipper. Second, there is more room for you and your family on the boat. If the skipper is joining you on the boat, he will need a cabin to stay in.


If you are the captain of your boat, this means some responsibility for the boat and the crew from your side. You also have to maintain a certain order and ask other crew members to help you when mooring, for example. First, you have to teach them some basics, so they can be of some help to you. Although, this is usually more fun than a disadvantage.

The last, and probably the one that decides the matter: if you are a person, who wants to enjoy your well-deserved holiday by doing nothing, a skipper can do all the job for you. You will discuss the itinerary, daily schedule, where to stop, what to see, and then, you are on a perfect vacation.

Some boats, both catamarans and sailing boats have a special cabin intended for the skipper to stay in. Sometimes this is not visible on the layout, you'd better ask the agency or the charter company you are renting from. 

The skipper's cabin is a great thing as he will have his private berth and bathroom accessed from the outside of the boat. A great thing if you want more privacy during your trip. However, I have never heard of a situation the skipper and the crew did not get along perfectly. A sailing holiday is a great fun and experience when all the people on board share the good mood and companionship. 

Besides that, skippers are trained to be respectful and cater for your needs so if you prefer, you will barely notice his presence. It all depends on the type of vacation you want to have.

If you are thinking of a family holiday on a skippered catamaran, most owners offer a hostess too. She will help to maintain the boat in order, prepare some light meal and/or drinks and makes your stay not just comfortable, but a real luxury.