Florida Keys - Bareboat & Sailing Charters
By Anne Lang
At the south point of Florida, there is a chain of islands 170 miles long that is embedded in turquoise water. This is the Keys, bordered by the unique living coral reef in the United States. The subtropical climate and the extraordinary beauty of the Atlantic have made this ecological wonder one of the most prized destinations for sailors.
Sailboat Chartering With or Without a Captain
You can choose from four types of sailboat vacation:
Leasing the sailboat without a captain or "Bareboat Chartering" - The sea has no secrets for you or your crew and you are capable of bringing the sailboat back to port even if a hitch happens during your trip.
Chartering a sailboat with a captain - You prefer to have a captain on board to help you with the bowline knot.
Sailboat training - You want to learn to navigate or you wish to enhance your knowledge. Charter companies offer courses at every level, for groups, couples, for a weekend or for the whole week.
Cruising with a captain and cook - You watch them raise the sails and manipulate the sauce pans, while you take it easy.
Choosing a Sailboat
The marinas cannot always accommodate boats that are too big. Also the draft of your boat should not exceed 4.5 to 5 feet and the beam 13.5 feet to 14 feet. We prefer mono hulls from 40 to 43 feet long. They combine space and comfort and generally find a spot in the small marinas of the Keys. These boats are also better equipped than the smaller sailboats. Catamarans rarely find a dock large enough and must anchor outside.
The boats are rented for a day, a weekend or for a week.
Best Time for Sailing the Keys
The Keys benefit from a subtropical climate. You can sail all year long but, like everywhere else, there is this fantastic time of the year and less favorable periods.
The best periods are: March, April, May, end of November and beginning of December.
The periods of tourism affluence are Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year.
Possible cold front periods: End of December, January and February.
Hurricane, humidity and mosquitoes' months are June to November, with a peak in August September and October.
Cruising Guide to the Florida Keys, by Captain Frank Papy.
Good basic information about places to visit, marinas, underwater activity, etc. Excellent maps describing the entrances to ports and marinas, usually difficult in access because of shallow waters.
Diving and Snorkeling guide to The Florida Keys, by Halas and Kincaid.
Excellent guide for skin diving and snorkeling. Description of coral reefs, exotic fish and sunken Spanish Galleons. Indication of depth and the level of difficulty of the different sites.
Anne Lang writes for Travel Magazine USA.
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Views expressed in the article are those of the author and are not necessarily the opinions of CaribbeanChoice, its staff or members.