Sailing in Antigua can be enjoyed at anytime of the year with cooling trade winds to make the weather perfect.
Antigua has options for both experienced and non-experienced yachters and sailors. Those with ocean experience will find sailing off Antigua’s east and north coasts offers exciting and challenging sailing. Sailors with less experience will enjoy the calmer and safer waters of the west coast.
If you are sailing your own boat you must, when approaching and docking in Antigua, follow the procedures for authorized entry. There are several ports through which you can enter Antigua. The VHF channel for these ports is 16. The entry fee is approximately $2.70(USD) per person.
When entering you must fly a yellow quarantine flag from a visible high point or bridge. Passengers and crew must remain on board until entry procedures have been completed. You must obtain valid cruising permits from the port authority, and all regulations of the Antigua Port Authority and the National Parks Authority must be followed while in the waters of Antigua and Barbuda.
It is imperative that you keep nautical maps on board your boat to avoid the coral reefs around the island. Sailing around Barbuda can be particularly hazardous due to extensive coral outcroppings. Always exercise caution and try to have someone on board who is familiar with local waters. Caution should also be taken when navigating Antigua’s offshore islets, especially on the east coast. Also beware of the strong trade winds and waves on the northern and eastern coasts of the island.
Regardless of your sailing experience, chartering a boat is an attractive option for anyone sailing the waters of Antigua. Charter options include bareboats, skippered bareboats, and fully crewed charters.
Bareboats are for experienced sailors who take full responsibility for the sailing and use of the boat. Besides experience you must also have some knowledge of the Caribbean and it’s waters. Charter companies will want to see proof of sailing experience before allowing you to charter one of their boats.
If the charter company recognizes you as a competent sailor, but with limited or no experience in the Caribbean, they will probably suggest a skippered bareboat. The skipper may be assigned for just a few days or for the duration of the journey. This option is a great way to experience sailing Antigua while still having a bareboat.
Crewed charters include both an experienced captain and a cook. A good crew can make your experience sailing in Antigua an unforgettable one, and, if lounging around while someone else does all the work is not enough to satisfy, you can assist in sailing the boat, under the supervision of the captain.
The captain of a crewed charter has ultimate control, from care of the ship to the itinerary, and will not put the safety of the crew, ship, or passengers at risk. Although passengers have input, the captain will have the final word should safety concerns require a change of itinerary.
Chartering a Yacht
Charter companies and brokers are the best option for chartering a boat and, if needed, a crew. There are a range of charter companies in both size and first tier and second tier. Charter brokers act as agents, finding the best charter for your needs.
Charter companies are divided into both large and small sizes and first and second tiers. First tier companies will have newer boats and the amenities that come with newer equipment including cell phones, CD players etc. Second tier companies usually buy boats from the first tier companies as they age, and will provide their boats at a lower cost.
Charter brokers will assist in the selection of the charter and crew. Yacht owners pay brokers so there is no charge for their services.
The American Yacht Charter Association (AYCA) and Charter Yacht Broker’s Association (CYBA) are two associations that can help you find a charter broker.
While there is much to consider when planning a sailing holiday in Antigua, there is no experience quite like it and it should be on your “must do” list if sailing is your passion!