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Super yachts make the Caribbean home

Some of the Caribbean’s best marinas

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The Caribbean remains the number one destination for cruise shipping, but the region also provides sanctuary for some of the world’s most fabulous super yachts. Whereas cruise ships will dominate port facilities, however, private yachts find home in some rather fine marinas offering a warm welcome; a safe and pleasant stay; and the colours, flavours and aromas of a tropical paradise.

Some Caribbean marinas are strong on maintenance, affording yacht owners a proper facility to repair, service and even refit their craft. Other marinas are recognised more as transition ports, where yachts may change guests, take on provisions and perform light maintenance work. 

Some marinas are cruising destinations which do not carry out maintenance but simply provide guests with a prime facility in a beautiful setting.

Guadeloupe’s marina at Pointe-à-Pitre can receive super yachts up to 55 metres in length and 4.5 metres draught. Larger yachts dock at Pointe-à-Pitre pier N1 and 2, close to the marina. The Port of Pointe-à-Pitre has recently completed a 45 metres x 20 metres dry dock able to handle yachts up to 55 metres in length. This is new in the Caribbean and will no doubt be of interest to yacht owners. 

Jamaica’s Errol Flynn Marina nestles in one of the most beautiful ports in the Caribbean. Port Antonio, on the north-east coast of Jamaica, is a bustling Jamaican town, capital of the parish of Portland and reputedly the birthplace of jerk pork and jerk cuisine. The Blue Mountains, with their soaring peaks and lush, tropical rainforests, provide a perfect backdrop. Here, the motor yacht Mayan Queen IV is shown alongside the main marina dock. At 93 metres (306 ft) in length and 4.25 metres (14.0 ft) draught, she is one of the largest yachts operating in the Caribbean. The steel yacht was built by Blohm + Voss in Germany. Errol Flynn Marina in Port Antonio is the only marina in the Caribbean that can berth the world’s largest yachts alongside and also turn them in the harbour. The marina can handle vessels up to 660 ft and 32 ft draught.

Martinique offers fine to outstanding marina facilities for luxury yachts at its Martinique Dry Dock in Fort-de-France. This facility has the distinct advantage of being strategically located about mid-point in the Caribbean archipelago, equidistant from dry docks in Puerto Rico and Curaçao in the south. It is the quality of services on offer here that is its major attraction, however. Photo shows the Ocean Victory, reportedly owned by Roman Abramovich, the owner of the Chelsea Football Club in London. 

St. Lucia’s Marina at Marigot Bay was built in 2005 as part of the threefold development of a five-star hotel, marina and marina village. Under the original plans, the marina was to be a base for The Moorings charter company, but it soon became clear that there was a great deal more potential. Late in 2006 the marina was bought back from The Moorings and its management awarded to a local company. The plan was to make The Marina at Marigot Bay a model facility for mega yachts, excelling in customer service and technical support. Set in front of the Discovery at Marigot Bay, a five-star hotel and spa, the marina offers its guests all the facilities of an exclusive and secluded marina and a five-star boutique hotel with pools, restaurants, bars and the Lapli Spa. The bay is dotted with six restaurants and bars ranging from fine to casual dining, with most offering an assortment of evening entertainment. The marina office operates in the same way as the front desk of a five-star hotel, providing directly and indirectly all the services that a mega yacht owner, captain, crew and guests might need. Marina berth-holders, their guests and crew can use the open facilities of the hotel on the same basis as hotel guests. These facilities include the spa, bars and restaurants, the Hurricane Hole pool, gardens and public rooms. ‘Room accounts’ are available so that marina guests can charge their bills to the yacht or their own account as suits their circumstances. The Marina Village offers a relaxing café and duty-free shopping. There is an all-year-round bank with full cash APA authorisation and a provisioning supermarket with direct links to French and US suppliers and a close relationship with local fishermen and organic farmers. The marina manages apartments in the Marina Village that are available to yacht crew or families at preferential rates and can arrange preferential rates in the Discovery Hotel. 

Berthing systems are easy to use, avoiding anchor clashes on the rare occasions when anchoring is necessary and flexible enough to provide stern-to berthing for yachts of 50 ft to 250 ft in length. The docks were designed to safely accommodate motor yachts with a maximum length of 130 ft in crosswinds of up to 100 knots. The entire installation was tested in August 2007 by Hurricane Dean, which blew at up to 75 knots directly from the sea into Marigot Bay. No yacht in the marina, which was full to capacity with yachts up to 115 ft, was damaged in any way by the passage of the hurricane. And no swell or surge was detected in the Inner Bay despite waves of around 5 metres breaking over the protecting sand spit. Equally, no yachts were damaged by the passage of Category 2 Hurricane Tomas in late October 2010.