The Agent’s Corner: by Capt. Deb Radtke
By now, everyone is well aware of the damage that was caused in the Caribbean by hurricanes Irma and Maria. For vessels that normally make the Caribbean their winter playground, it has caused concern. Many are planning on changing their itineraries, choosing to stay in Florida and the Bahamas, or schedule yard periods. But it’s important to remember there is a lot of territory and many islands not affected by Irma and Maria.
The Caribbean encompasses 7,000 individual islands, scattered over approximately 1 million square miles. There are a lot of opportunities for new discoveries beyond the half dozen islands severely damaged by Irma and Maria.
Most are well-aware that the islands are dependent on tourism for their economies, and the sooner yachts and tourists return, the sooner the islands will be back to normal. With that in mind, and knowing that from the Greater Antilles south is the best option for a really warm winter, we wanted to provide additional information and contacts to help make the most of this winter’s cruising.
In spite of their proximity to St. Maarten and St. Barths, neither St. Kitts nor Antigua were damaged, and both have great local resources, including international airports, megayacht marinas and local provisioners. St. Kitts has a brand new marina, Christophe Harbour, and one of the best protected bays in the Leeward Islands during the Christmas winds. Reports are that St. Barths already has restaurants open, and all of the islands are starting to green up again.
A great itinerary may be to head south early, to the windward Islands of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, allowing the Leeward Islands some time to recover, making them a better option on the way back north during spring break.
There is also great cruising throughout the Bahamas and Florida. Despite damage to the middle Florida Keys, Key West and the Dry Tortugas offer a great option for those who also want services of the U.S. mainland and proximity to the Miami nightlife. It takes a lot to take a Conch down, and Key West will be celebrating Fantasy Fest at the end of October. Most of the marinas there are back up and running.
A special website, caribbeanyachtingupdate2017.com, has been set up to provide the latest and most accurate information on services and marinas in some of the most popular destinations – St. Maarten, St. Barths, the British Virgin Islands, Dominica and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
If you are traveling farther afield than normal, it is always good to have local contacts. Many of the agents in the Caribbean are members of the Association of Yacht Support Services, a global network of yacht support services. (*Denotes AYSS member below.)
Anchor Concierge and Superyacht Services*
Falmouth Harbour Marina, Antigua
St. Kitts Yacht Services*
P.O. Box 127, Basseterre, St Kitts
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Erika’s Yacht Agents*
At the Waterfront, Clifton, Union Island
Spronks’ Mega Yacht Grenada Ltd.,
P.O. Box 267, St. George’s, Grenada
44 Welfare Road, Unit 2-E, Cole Bay, St. Maarten
Simpson Bay Marina, Plaza Del Lago, St. Maarten
British Virgin Islands
PO Box 3069 7 Columbus Centre, Road Town, Tortola
Capt. Deb Radtke owns American Yacht Agents in Fort Lauderdale (www.americanyachtagents.net). After 16 years working on yachts, she found her niche shoreside assisting vessels visiting the U.S. East Coast and Great Lakes. Comments are welcome below.