Caribbean Holiday Info

 2016 HOLIDAY INFORMATION GUIDE- CARIBBEAN

 Thank you for booking your sailing holiday/event with us at Girls for Sail! 

You’re going to enjoy some fantastic sailing and socialising with us and to make sure it is as enjoyable and stress free as possible here are some important things you need to know about your forthcoming event. The Caribbean is a wonderful venue for a holiday with constant heat and sunshine and a relaxing laid back environment to help you wave goodbye to any stresses or strains!

PLEASE PRINT THIS list of useful information and bring with you as you will be asking these questions at some point after you have booked - so please take with you! Get ready for some FUN! 

CONTENTS

1.     ABOUT YOUR BOOKING – included/excluded
2.     SAFETY/LIVING ABOARD
3.     FOOD/WATER/CURRENCY/INSURANCE/ITINERARY
4.     WHAT TO PACK
5.     GETTING THERE/TRAVEL FACTS
6.     ACCOMMODATION

WHAT'S INCLUDED?

From our specific event literature you will see that all of our events include accommodation on board a yacht, exclusive use of a sailing yacht, all safety equipment, yacht liability insurance, RYA qualified skipper, sailing guidance/tuition and all race entry fees (if racing). There may be more additions to this list, which you will find specifically detailed on your event literature which is also on our website. 

WHAT ISN'T INCLUDED?

Travel to your meeting point and flights, personal holiday insurance, departure taxes and/or any customs tax where levied by individual Caribbean islands, some mooring fees*, some food*, your own attire, including wet weather gear if necessary. Upgrades to shoreside accommodation where an option.

*this will be specified in the event literature on our website

YACHT SAFETY

Your safety is of paramount importance to us. Your yacht comes fully equipped with all safety equipment, including a life jacket as required by the local governing body* Your skipper will discuss all aspects of safety during the safety briefing on your arrival to the yacht. The skipper is always RYA qualified and commercially endorsed. GFS reserves the rights to change the yacht you may be on for your event should it become necessary and in the event of a chartered yacht, there may be a buoyancy aid* provided instead of a life jacket.

ZIKA VIRUS

Transmission of the Zika virus has been identified in the Caribbean; the UK Government website contains important information and current advice to travellers.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/zika-virus

Further useful information specific to travelling can be found by following the link below.

http://travel.usnews.com/features/6-things-every-traveler-should-know-about-the-zika-virus/

Chikungunya Fever has also been identified in St Lucia. Outbreaks are common and often occur after the rainy seasons when mosquitoes breed more actively. Occasionally, the virus can be found in other countries where the mosquito that spreads Chikungunya can also be found. Symptoms of the disease include fever, headache, fatigue, nausea, muscle pain, rash and joint pain. Within a few days the illness usually resolves and serious complications are uncommon. The best way to avoid infection is to prevent  mosquito bites by using insect repellent and wearing appropriate clothing. Medical attention must be sought for any feverish illness experienced whilst travelling or on your return home.

PERSONAL SAFETY - TRAVELLING IN THE CARIBBEAN

Whilst incidents of crime are uncommon, you should maintain at least the same level of personal security awareness as you would in the UK and make sure your accommodation is secure. This also applies if you are staying on a yacht. Be vigilant at all times. Take care when walking off the busy main roads and avoid isolated areas, including beaches, particularly after dark. Try to avoid going out at night alone and ensure at least one person of your crew knows where you've gone if you leave the group.

Only use licensed taxis and take particular care at late-night street parties, especially during the festival season. Don’t carry large amounts of cash or jewellery. If possible, leave valuables at home or failing that, in a hotel safe while you are on board the yacht. Take particular care of your travel documents.

Below is a link to some current advice:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/2010-to-2015-government-policy-british-nationals-overseas/2010-to-2015-government-policy-british-nationals-overseas#appendix-2-advice-for-women-travellers

https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/st-lucia

https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/antigua-and-barbuda

These are the 2 main Islands visited. Please seek more detailed information from specific Islands should you wish to understand any other Island you are visiting.

MANNERS AND CUSTOMS

There are severe penalties for all drug offences. Ensure that you pack all luggage yourself and don’t carry anything through Customs for anyone else. It is an offence for anyone, including children, to dress in camouflage clothing. Certain homosexual acts are illegal under the local laws.

REST AND RELAXATION TIME BEFORE AND AFTER YOUR TRIP

If you are travelling from the UK/Europe the round trip may be quite tiring as direct flights are approximately 8 hours. We recommend considering arriving at least 24 hours before you are due to join the yacht, especially if you are arriving for a sailing course. This may help you relax and acclimatise to the heat in the Caribbean. Jet lag may be an issue, it’s a long way to come and you will want to be rested and ready to get the most from your event.

You may wish to consider a time for further relaxing and contemplation at the end of your trip.

LIVING AND SAILING ON BOARD THE YACHT

We mostly coach on yachts of between 37 and 41ft. Our yachts have been specifically chosen as they are easy to handle, great for learning and great for racing! There is no denying we girls sometimes don’t have the physical strength of the boys but with good technical ability and a well-chosen yacht we can do just as well. 

You will usually find yourself on board an Élan 37, Jeanneau 37 or a Beneteau 40.7. All of your time will be spent living as crew-mates on your yacht unless you decide to select to upgrade to onshore accommodation (where this is an option for your chosen event). Most of the yachts have space for 9/10 people with 3 cabins and a saloon so the boats will normally have 2 persons in each cabin i.e. 6 and on some events we use the saloon which can sleep an additional 2-4 persons.  This may be challenging to get used to at first and at some points you may feel it strange to be living in close quarters with many people; so if you need some space or ‘me time’ at any point when  on board you will find that forward of the mast proves very therapeutic (do advise the skipper though!)

The yacht has a heads (bathroom) with a shower at the stern (back) of the yacht. There are cosy cooking facilities and storage for one soft/ collapsible bag for each person. Storage is at a premium on board and you may find that you are largely living out of your bag so remember, this is a casual holiday and you really won’t need stiletto heels and four handbags!! Please PACK LIGHTLY!! The rest of your crew will admire you for your frugal packing skills.

The professional crew on the yacht is there to ensure you have an amazing time sailing and will guide you in how (and where) to sail the yacht.  We will try our very best to make sure you are all happy and comfortable.  Please note that they are not ‘stewardesses’ or ‘entertainers’ and you and your crew mates will be responsible for day to day provisioning, meal preparation and general ‘housekeeping’ and minor running repairs on board. As with any yacht you are all part of the team and you’ll all get along nicely if you organise your responsibilities equally throughout your trip! A tidy boat is a happy boat…

A TYPICAL YACHT

Our average GFS yacht is between 37 and 40 feet.  After extensive research of all the boats on the market, we chose to sail yachts similar to the Élan 37 or Beneteau 40.7 as these boats are capable of being sailed easily and successfully by women. They are light in weight, easy to handle with comfortable living space on board. All our boats are equipped with a compact galley (kitchen) area, heads (toilet) and spacious saloon area with table.

This is the layout you can expect on board our Elan 37 'Diamonds are Forever'. The exact layout will vary between the different boats we use but will be reasonably similar, with all the boats having a heads, saloon (living area), galley kitchen and 3 separate cabins for sleeping.

FOOD

You will be joining us for one of these events - an RYA course, a regatta, a holiday or an offshore adventure. The following are our policies in the Caribbean:

RYA COURSES

We provide half board on our courses. This means breakfasts and lunches for your 5 day practical RYA course are included. After operating here for many years, we have found that in the heat, people prefer to eat off the boat in the evening and so we provide instruction on how to use the galley during the day allowing us to happily eat ashore in the evening.

NB on Theory courses no food is provided. We provide tea, coffee throughout the day but provisions are not included in these courses.

HOLIDAYS AND REGATTAS:

GFS provides a simple starter pack for every event so that you can turn up to the boat and relax for the first few days before having to think about shopping! We provide cereals/continental breakfasts and lunches e.g. sandwiches/wraps for the first 1-2 days. After this starter pack runs out the crew will be expected to be responsible for provisioning for yourselves. We highly recommend nominating a kitty person who can collate funds whilst you shop and share the joys of buying exotic foods!

OFFSHORE ADVENTURES

If you are undertaking an offshore race such as the RORC 600 or the ARC, GFS provides all food on the actual offshore race itself. There will be a starter pack for the RORC 600 and ARC ladies will need to read their ARC pack specifically as we do not sleep onboard during an ARC prep week.

NB. Please note that we like to eat to a high standard and will buy the best produce possible to have a good standard of food. Food is difficult to obtain in certain areas of the Caribbean and at certain times of year can be impossible! If you are intolerant to certain foods or need things like gluten-free we highly recommend bringing some in your suitcase as even getting fresh milk is a challenge! Finding eggs at Christmas is sometimes impossible due to the large demand and the fact that most foods are imported. If you are a fan of specific brands we will not be offended if you decide to buy some of your favorite things in addition to our selection of standard ‘most popular’ items in our starter packs/RYA half board packs (but probably best not to try bringing fresh milk and eggs with you in your suitcase!) 

STARTER PACKS

The GFS crew will stock the yacht with food to provision for breakfast and lunch at the beginning of the event as a starter pack which will last a day or two.  When the food runs out from the starter pack, we normally have a boat kitty to buy lunches etc where everyone contributes - after all, breakfasts and lunches will be a team affair, like all things on the yacht! Food and drink in the Caribbean is quite pricey so you need to budget around £15-20/day.

EVENING MEALS

Any meals ashore and any additional drinks are paid for by you. Please be aware others may not want or be able to afford to eat in the high-end restaurants, so perhaps find a happy medium with your crew. Remember, you will be responsible for cooking your own meals if onboard. Our skippers are happy to help but again, are not your stewardesses!

Please note that although your skipper would be delighted to eat out with you and always does on the first or last night dependant on the event, the salary level for a skipper can be a lot lower than the average customer on our sailing trips, therefore she cannot do this every night. It is customary, (but by no means obligatory) to treat your skipper to a meal out of the team's kitty which you may choose to start – or to negotiate with the restaurant owners for a free meal for her!

The bill - we tend to find that over the course of a week or two, if you split the bill evenly it works out pretty fairly across this time. However, if this does not work for you please make your crewmates aware of this upfront so there is no drama over the bill!! It’s supposed to be fun and easy so hopefully this works out well for your group.

FRESH WATER AND ELECTRICITY

It is important that you understand the boat is only equipped with ONE 12v plug, meaning the electricity available on board is at an absolute minimum. Therefore we advise you to charge electronic items ashore, where possible. For ladies who want to dry their hair, you will have to do this ashore as hair driers and straighteners etc may not be compatible with the small voltage available onboard.

Water is a valuable resource and is extremely limited on board. In the Caribbean rainfall is minimal; therefore the water is always limited. Its availability and longevity depends on how careful we are with its use, remember we are visiting Caribbean islands and they can often run out. Just a heads up that we need to be careful with how we use water – it is PRECIOUS!

CURRENCY

Most islands take Eastern Caribbean Dollars, and prefer them to US$.

They have an unsophisticated system of turning US$ in XCD (eastern Caribbean dollars) with a standard formula that has been around for years.

Some islands also take Euros so please check before you convert all of your money.

Euros:                                      

Martinique, St Barth’s, Guadeloupe, north side of St. Maarten

Eastern Caribbean Dollars:           

Grenada, St Lucia, Antigua, Grenadines, Dominica

US Dollars:                                         

BVI’s, South side of St. Maarten

There are cash machines available on most islands, and the exchange/withdrawal rate is not as bad as one might expect in a European country or elsewhere. Do however check the exchange rates before leaving the country, and provision with some cash for when you first arrive!

For information about currency and other useful facts about the different islands in the region please click here.

INSURANCE

Because the unexpected sometimes happens, we recommend that you take out an insurance plan that provides for trip delay/cancellation, emergency transportation, travel accident, medical expense and baggage loss and delay.

www.bishopskinner.com is the RYA approved provider and the RYA is a good place to start for sailing insurance quotes. You may find that your annual policy covers some sailing activities however you should ensure that any offshore and racing is also covered (if applicable) as this is often excluded.

IF YOU CHANGE/CANCEL YOUR HOLIDAY WE CANNOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE – PLEASE TAKE OUT INSURANCE!

ITINERARIES

Any proposed/suggested itinerary is for guidance only and is subject to change depending on weather and crew experience.

The skipper’s decision is final. Girls for Sail cannot ensure exact dates or times will be met during crossings and will not be held accountable for any alterations to a guideline itinerary. 

WHAT TO PACK

Your allowance on any airplane is approximately 20 kilos per person, so we use this as a standard for most trips. We know, it doesn’t sound a lot but it is enough, honestly! It is advisable to pack very lightly as there is always a limited amount of storage space on the yachts.  PLEASE DO NOT BRING A HARD-BACKED CASE WITH ANY WHEELS!  You should bring a soft/folding holdall, not a hard suitcase so that storage of your bag will be easy - and we limit the number of bags to ONE per person.

WHAT TO BRING

As little as possible is the message! Dress is very informal in the Caribbean and the weather is tropical, which means it is warm 99% of the time.  To help keep your luggage to a minimum we have listed some basic requirements:

1.   A flat non-fitted double sheet or a sleeping bag liner to sleep in (if you feel a sleeping bag will be too hot).

2.   A small pillow for comfort.

3.   Towel - microfibre towels are best, they are lightweight, dry quickly and are easy to store in your bag.

4.   Sun block – cream, not oil please as it’s slippery (even if it’s not sunny it will protect against windburn). Make sure you have plenty of high factor sunscreen, at least factor 30.  DO take sunburn seriously! It is very hard to find shade onboard.

5.   There will be a well-stocked first aid kit on board the yacht, however please bring your own seasickness tablets and mini first aid kit. Should you take regular medicines, please ensure you provision enough for your time with us.

If you’ve never sailed before, unless you know you don’t get sea sick, it’s a good idea to take sea-sickness tablets the night before setting off and then again in the morning and repeat the following night and morning (refer to the dosage instructions of the product you’ve purchased).

It’s not unusual to feel seasick, it happens to the most experienced of sailors, Ellen MacArthur and Robin Knox-Johnson still suffer and look at the voyages they’ve been on.  It’s just your body’s way of adjusting its balance and it will pass, trust us! 

Clothing

1.   Bikinis/swimsuit, probably two will suffice as you can rotate them.

2.   Sunglasses and a cap (with a strap) or wide rimmed sunhat with a strap!

3.   Long sleeve tops and leggings to sail in, perhaps active layers (breathable layers) - these will also help protect you from sun burn.

4.   Sarong, shorts, t-shirts

5.   Summer dress/trousers

6.   Evening wear (casual)

7.   Bring sandals and some deck shoes for the boat - please note you don’t have to buy top end shoes, a simple pair of light weight trainers/indoor basketball shoes that don’t mark will suffice. Cheaper pairs can be found at shops like JD sports, Sports Direct etc. PLEASE no more than three pairs of shoes!!

8.   It has been known to rain occasionally on the islands so a lightweight waterproof jacket would be a good idea, plus something long-sleeved if we happen to be sailing in a shower where it gets windy.

9.   A pair of sailing gloves will be very handy and advisable, especially out in hot weather – please note you cannot buy them in the Caribbean.

10. The evenings are really warm but after the suns sets it will cool down immediately - if you feel the cold perhaps pack a lightweight cardigan or sweater (or something similar).

If you are on a career break or your event will involve sailing overnight, be prepared for the fact it can get chilly and or wet so lightweight wet weather/waterproof trousers are also advisable along with a jacket.

RYA COURSE EXTRAS

Please bring the above and if you are attending an RYA course, you will also need your logbook - if you do not have one, we can provide you one for £10 but this must be bought before your trip and can be posted within the UK for £3 per item. Or you can collect from our office in Cowes.

You will also need a pen, pencil and notepad for writing navigational and other notes down.

REGATTAS AND RACE EVENTS

Please bring the above and a pair of black shorts, we will be providing race shirts for all participants and would like to have a great looking photo of our race teams! 

ACCOMMODATION

On shore accommodation options – All races e.g. Grenada, Antigua, St Barth’s and St Lucia etc.

Over the years we have assessed that in the heat of the Caribbean shore-side shelter is very preferable. The sun and heat can be challenging if you are not used to it so drinking lots of fluids and wearing a hat with a minimum of factor 50+ is essential advice and sunburn/sunstroke should be taken very seriously. Because of the heat and sometimes lovely cooling rain showers we find customers like shore-side accommodation to aid their comfort. We can help suggest accommodation of a good standard at a reasonable rate near all the ever changing itineraries of the regattas – it could differ each year. Please be aware that we do not own or run any of the rented accommodation so we act as a third party to assist you in making your sailing event more pleasurable.

Average accommodation can range from £39 to £59 pppn, which is always shared – the price varies dependant on how many of the crew opt for shore-side beds. In this price range, there may be sharing of beds (like sharing of cabins) and may not have air conditioning or WiFi. The more people that select accommodation, the cheaper it is! Please advise our office of your preference when you have booked your event so that we can search earlier and get the better venues. Thank you in advance for this. If you provide a budget guide for us to work to that is also very helpful.  You are of course welcome to book your own accommodation but please note our personal safety and security advice above.

BOOKING YOUR OWN ON SHORE ACCOMMODATION

Please advise us if you are booking into accommodation on shore. GFS will do everything to ensure that you are back in the right location after the days sailing but cannot be held responsible for your bookings ashore. We advise customers to inform your chosen accommodation of this possibility. Also please be aware that can’t be held responsible should there be an event where weather and tide may make it impossible to get to your accommodation ashore.

NB. RYA courses will start on the date specified, and end 5 days later, please be conscious of the fact that if you feel you need a day to relax before you start your course, you will need to book your flight out a day earlier!

ARRIVING IN THE CARIBBEAN – GENERAL ADVICE

When arriving from the UK or a colder climate the first blast of air at the airport can be quite a shock – but LOVELY! Mmm…feel the warmth of the Caribbean Islands. It’s a good idea to wear layers on the plane ie socks and sweatshirts so you can remove your warm clothing easily when you land. Be prepared for a long queue in customs as they haven’t quite cracked efficiency yet! Once out in the heat there will be taxis available to transport you to your location, which can differ in quality and service dependant on which island you are arriving on! 

When going through customs you will not have a problem as long as you have a return flight ticket proving you are on holiday and will be leaving! When you are asked you where you are staying it’s always easier to state the boat name ‘Hot Stuff’ in whichever marina you are going to. 

If you do not have a return flight ticket then you must contact the office on +44 (0)1983 282867 as you will need a letter showing them that we take responsibility for you on board. The authorities will be suspicious if you do not have a return flight and you are staying on a boat. Our advice is clearly to have prepared a letter. This particularly applies to our Career Break ladies who may be travelling on further. 

ARRIVING IN St. LUCIA – GENERAL ADVICE

St Lucia has a very small airport which is contained and slow. Once through customs you will open the door to the outside world and find a large number of people meeting and greeting others. Keep walking until you meet the local taxi drivers – there are numerous drivers. You will need a taxi – the journey is approximately 80-90 minutes depending on what day you arrive (weekends are faster). All taxi drivers will know where Rodney Bay Marina is.   Alternatively you can pre-book a taxi before you arrive.  Ernest is our recommended taxi driver who lives near Rodney Bay. He can be emailed directly by you to reserve a taxi and the transfer will be very easy as he knows Rodney Bay marina.  Ernestf575@gmail.com 

COSTS – as of January 2016 the standard fare was $80 US dollars (The taxi drivers think everyone is American so have a standard fee in US$!). This equates to $210 EC Dollars because the standard conversion is 2.65. Please check conversion rates as this information is at time of printing. 

CONTACTS – If you need help when you arrive, our local GFS mobile is +1 (758) 287 7298

FLIGHT ARRIVALS AND TRANSFERS – ST LUCIA

Most flights arriving in St Lucia arrive in the afternoon around 1500 hours and we have based our event start times around this. This means our meeting times are at 1000 hours in the marina at Rodney Bay.

You will need to make your own accommodation arrangements if you arrive the evening before the course.

We will have our boats moored in the marina so whatever happens we will not be that far away from you once you arrive at the marina. We meet at the boat at 1000 hours for those of you who have travelled independently. The skipper will be there and meet you and then take you to your yacht moored just a few hundred feet away – GFS flags and boom covers are blue and quite bright so you should see them. We are normally moored on C Pontoon. The marina office is upstairs and if in any doubt you can talk to one of the lovely ladies there and they will point out the boat to you. Do feel free to head straight to the boat if you arrive slightly later than planned. If the skipper is not there on the dot of 10 then it is very likely she is assisting another customer who has just arrived and she will be with you as soon as she can. And relax…you’ve arrived and we’ll take very good care of you!

We recommend that you stay up as long as possible on your first night to avoid jet lag. Most people arrive, sort their luggage in their rooms and then take a taxi to the marina to have dinner at the pizzeria or Bosun’s restaurant – there are so many places to eat! This way you will see the lovely marina, eat well and then stay up so you are not jet lagged. Perfect! We recommend the Coco Palm, which is basic but a good standard of accommodation.

Of course – this is the ideal plan. We realize things do sometimes change so we are prepared for things not going quite to plan - but we do ask for your assistance should your flight be delayed, taxi get a puncture etc – areas beyond our control. 

ARRIVING IN ANTIGUA – GENERAL ADVICE

The airport in Antigua is larger than most in the Caribbean but is still small! When you walk out of the exit cross over the small road and there is a very efficient and regulated taxi rank which will take you to your destination. You are going to the southern tip of the island - Falmouth Marina.

We meet in CLOGGYS restaurant which is the restaurant on the first floor overlooking Falmouth Harbour, so when getting into the taxi ask for Falmouth Marina on Dockyard Drive. We will be there to meet you! If you are delayed then we will be only a few metres away on the dock.

ARRIVING IN ST BARTHS

Only small private planes go to St Barth’s so the easiest way to get there is via the island of St Maarten. A regular ferry transfers passengers 2-3 times a day - see more on http://www.greatbayferry.com/

Our yacht is moored stern to on the wall in GUSTAVIA harbor along with all the other beautiful yachts. If you cannot see the flags and blue boom cover pop into the marina office and they will help you out.

ARRIVING IN GRENADA

Beautiful Grenada is easy to get to with regular British Airway flights! The airport is very near the marina and we can see the planes arriving whilst sipping a drink in the marina so if the flight is delayed we will see this – literally! The yacht is moored in Camper & Nicholson’s PORT LOUIS marina in St Georges which is a short 15 minute taxi ride away. If you cannot see the flags and blue boom cover pop into the marina office and they will help you out.

ARRIVING IN THE BVIs

There are many islands making up this amazing holiday destination. Tortola is the main island where we meet you. You will fly into Tortola and on the east coast of the island is Beef Island, where the airport is on this wonderful island range. We meet you at the famous NANNY CAY MARINA in NANNY CAY itself.  Taxis are available - expect to pay approx $35-40 US$. More taxi info is available here 

Thank you for choosing to sail with us at Girls for Sail and we hope you have a wonderful time on the water!

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+44(0)1983 28 28 67

Email us on:
info@girlsforsail.com

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