Upwards of 25 countries make up the Caribbean which means you have to be well-versed with the customs and laws of each nation as, unlike in Europe, there is no Schengen-esque agreement in place that removes the conundrum of internal borders. So before you rent a boat to take on the enchanting waters of the Caribbean, here are a couple of important pointers that’ll ensure you stay out of trouble:
1) Watch out for customs!
The Caribbean might seem like a carefree, happy-go-lucky place but when it comes to customs- which form the bulk of the revenue stream on these islands- the stance is totally different. A maximum fine- i.e. charges without negation- are implemented swiftly and at a moment’s notice so be sure to play by the rules e.g. by using the designed ports of entry for instance. Any shortcuts will land you in hot water sooner or later.
2) Familiarize with fishing rules
Each country adopts different rules for fishing, however, most of these nations don’t take too kindly to supergun fishing. Familiarize with all the relevant rules around the practice and you can get all the information you need at the local customs office.
3) Firearms are a no-no
A firearm might seem like the go-to security accessory in an area hampered by piracy but history has proven that your chances of dying are higher in such scenarios if you possess a firearm. What’s more, not declaring firearms to the relevant authorities could earn you some jail time.
4) Beware of the sea!
First-time sailors can often get caught off guard by the deceptively calm façade of the Caribbean which can change in an instant and without warning. Unforgiving winds and currents can sneak up on you as the region is imbued with geographic factors such as land-mass funneling that work to ensure unfavorable elements every once in a while.
5) Be careful with mooring sites
The British Virgin islands boast moorings that are generally good and devoid of issues but the same cannot be said for the rest of the Caribbean. Scammers looking to make a quick buck often pretend to be the owners with many of these structures also looking dodgy and requiring you to dig deep into your pocket. So before you settle on a particular choice, ask around and explore the place to gauge how reliable and safe it is to park your vessel there.
6) National Parks can be costly
Some sections of the BVI and the Grenadines, especially in Tobago Cays, tend to feature outrageous park charges. Also, you might need to carry cash with you as credit cards tend to not be accepted here.
7) Secure your vessel
Might seem like an obvious one but many rare do and come back to the shock of missing items or, worse yet, a missing vessel. To save yourself from such a predicament, adopt a practice of always locking your boat even when going out for a quick trip to the toilet.
8) Know about restricted zones
Being in the wrong place at the wrong time could attract a fine of about $1,500 in Montserrat for example and this is the case throughout the region. Consult custom authorities to learn about restricted areas and whether you need prior permission to visit certain places.
Exercise caution wherever you go in the Caribbean and always be keen to seek clarification before doing anything. That way, you won’t rub Caribbean law enforcers the wrong way and your adventure will be a happy, memorable one rather a forgetful, miserable experience.