Explore the world under sail, one charter vacation at a time (published August 2014)
Caribbean: The B.V.I. is the charter Mecca and is a perfect cruising ground well set up for weeklong charters. Farther afield, the Windward and Leeward Isles offer great sailing and interesting island nations. Antigua and the Grenadines are highlights. In the western Caribbean, Central America offers expansive reefs, interesting new countries and eco-tourism in the rain forests. Belize stands out as a favorite charter ground. Best seasons: year round but hurricane season runs from June through October.
East Coast: From the Sounds inside Cape Hatteras, to the Chesapeake Bay, to New England and the Maine Coast, the East Coast provides a huge variety of cruising areas and hundreds of great areas to explore. Perfect for a long weekend to a weeklong charter, the East Coast is accessible and well served by dozens of charter companies. Best seasons: spring, summer and fall.
Florida & The Bahamas: The east and west coasts of Florida are accessible and offer perfect winter escapes close to home. The Abacos in the Bahamas have dozens of islands to visit, great diving and interesting local folks. And it is easy to get there. Best seasons: year round but spring and fall offer the most benign weather.
Pacific Northwest: Great for both power and sail, you’ll find protected waters, hundreds of islands as well as whales, bald eagles and bears. Best seasons: spring, summer and fall.
California: San Francisco Bay offers great gunkholing , wine country cruising and the Delta where you can get away from it all. Best seasons: spring and fall. Southern California has Catalina, the Channel Islands and plenty of cool harbors and marinas. Best seasons: all year round.
Mexico: Going foreign but not too foreign, chartering in Mexico offers great weather, fun food and a laid back culture. Try Baja for spectacular scenery, friendly villages and great snorkeling and diving. Best seasons: all year round but hurricane season runs from June through October.
South Pacific: The hot spots are in French Polynesia and Tonga. In FP, Raiatea will be your base and then you can explore Huahine and Bora Bora. The famous Heiva festival is in June and July. In Tonga, the Va’vau Group is a perfect chartering ground with great anchorages and lovely people. Best seasons: May through November. Hurricane season runs from December through May.
The Mediterranean Sea: From the Balearic Islands in the western Med to the Turquoise Coast of Turkey in the east, the wine-dark sea has some of the best cruising and chartering on the planet. You certainly can spend years and years exploring and dining your way around the Med. Best seasons: spring, summer and fall with milder weather in spring and fall.
Seychelles: These dreamlike islands in the Indian Ocean have to be one of the world’s most exotic charter destinations. The islands are exquisite, the beaches perfect and the cruising grounds always interesting. Best seasons: year round but the rainy season runs from November through January.
SE Asia: Malaysia and Thailand offer tropical sailing, exotic cultures, amazing food and friendly people. And, living can be quite inexpensive. Best seasons: year round sailing but the rainy season runs from May through October.
Australia & New Zealand: New Zealand’s Hauraki Gulf (Auckland) and Bay of Islands are world famous cruising areas. You could spend a lifetime exploring these waters. Best seasons: November through May. Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and off-lying islands offer perfect chartering areas where the diving is good, the weather warm and fine and the people welcoming. Best seasons: year round but cyclone season runs from November through May.