Discover the West Indies with Jean, Capt’n Boat pro skipper

antilles plage de la caravelle sainte anne

Discover the West Indies with Jean, Capt’n Boat pro skipper

Jean, a navigator since the age of 15 and professional skipper for the past 20 years, is familiar with the winter seasons in the West Indies. Having lived in Guadeloupe for over ten years, he knows this maritime region like the back of his hand!

He has been a member of Capt’n Boat since 2020, and shares with us all the good things to know about this part of the West Indies. You’ll have plenty to do if spending the winter season accompanied by a pro skipper in the Caribbean is on your checklist!

A few lines to get to know Jean

“I’ve been sailing since the age of 15, and becoming a skipper is a reconversion for me. I’m more of a mountain person, but when I was transferred to Nantes in 1997, I discovered cruising by chance. It was a revelation!

In 2006, I moved to the West Indies (Guadeloupe) and settled there. Over there, I did a bit of chartering from time to time by word-of-mouth, but my sea activity wasn’t really the most important. I stayed in Guadeloupe until 2019, and with the Covid crisis, I returned to France.

I looked for work in the nautical sector and that’s how I discovered Capt’n Boat and started my offshore business, which is at 100% today and which I run entirely from the Capt’n Boat platform!”

profile jean pro skipper captnboat west indies

Discover the West Indies with a local skipper like Jean

Characteristics of the West Indies islands

“First of all, the West Indies are turquoise waters with absolutely magnificent seabeds! Of course, when the rain is falling and the wind is blowing hard, it can be less pleasant. But in high season, it’s simply gorgeous.

The special thing about this region are the trade winds and the constant winds. It’s always windy, which makes it an ideal place for sailing. We can usually count on winds of between 10 and 20 knots, with thermal breeze effects. There’s more wind on the Atlantic side and calmer seas on the Caribbean side.

The constant wind allows you to adapt your sailing speed to your preferences. You can choose to sail faster on the Atlantic side, or take your time in calmer waters on the leeward side. What’s more, the islands offer two different facets: a green one and the other one is dry and arid. It’s incredible, because there’s something for everyone.

When you sail in Guadeloupe and look out to sea, there’s always an island in front of you. Whether it’s La Désirade, Marie-Galante, St-Dominique, Antigua, Les Saintes or Montserrat, they’re everywhere! Some islands are dependencies, while others are totally independent.”

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When to sail in the West Indies?

According to Jean, the ideal time to sail in the West Indies is from mid-December to the end of March.

April and May can also be good sailing months, but it’s usually the time of the return transatlantics, in order to anticipate the season in Europe. This means there are fewer boats to rent.

However, if you decide to make the delivery of your boat at a different time from the crowds, you’ll be able to enjoy the West Indies with fewer people!

Good West Indian addresses

Jean shares with us his favorite Guadeloupean addresses, for a typical West Indies stay and a guaranteed total immersion!

  • Le Rocher de Malendure: “In front of the Cousteau reserve, this restaurant is perched on a rock, so we’re on raised terraces. The cuisine is very healthy and interesting, with fish with vanilla sauce, accras, and nothing but local ingredients!
    This rock is also a diving paradise! Wrecks, seabeds, sumptuous coral!”
  • Ti Tab’ Kréyol: restaurant on Anse à la Gourde beach. You’ll find traditional, local, family-style cuisine made with fresh ingredients! The fish and lobster here are delicious, you’ll want to try everything!
  • Le Grand Cul-de-Sac marin: a bay located between the north coast of Basse-Terre and the west coast of Grande-Terre. “We don’t do much sailing in it, but it’s a place overflowing with magnificent islets. There’s very little seabed, which is why we don’t go sailing there.”
west indies - antilles les saintes terre de haut

Itinerary for a one-week cruise in the West Indies

“One week is a very short time, so we’ll have to multiply the number of anchorages and stops in order to get the full experience!”

Jean plans his cruise itineraries in advance, so that he can present his customers with a complete program. He prepares everything in advance, including provisions and meals!
Here’s the itinerary he shares with us in his favorite region:

  • Les “îles petites terres”, “it’s a paradise on the water, a living aquarium. It’s a protected area with a coral reef and magnificent underwater fauna!” During the day it’s a very crowded area, but if you get permission to spend the night, you’ll be alone in a magical spot.
  • Further east of the “îles petites terres” is an island with a lighthouse. You can walk around it and meet colonies of iguanas! “On this island, there’s as much to do on land as at sea. There are coastal paths, salt marshes, cliffs, etc.”. This island is part of La Désirade, and if you ask permission to stay at anchor in the evening, you’ll once again have the opportunity to be without the tourism influx.
  • Dominica, “it’s splendid, wild, there are so many beautiful things to visit: rum factories, chasms”.

“For a week, it’s more than enough, you go from island to island, in magnificent places! For the French, the West Indies are a cool destination. There are no language, currency or visa problems, everything’s easy!”

A typical day on a cruise with Jean

“Often, what the customer likes is to wake up in a different place from where they were the day before.

So the first step: I get up very early (around 5am), weigh anchor and set off under sail or motor, depending on the weather conditions. The aim is not to wake up the customers – which is difficult, as they usually land in the West Indies the day before, so they’re jet-lagged. I then head back to the anchorage for breakfast, in a dream location. We take our time, swim and do some activities on board (paddle, seabobs, snorkeling, etc.).

Second stage: either we’ve decided to stay at the same anchorage all day, or we sail to another anchorage. The other anchorage is usually the one where we stay for lunch and the afternoon. Here, it’s best to move around under sail, according to the wind. It’s sometimes possible to change anchorage a third time for the night, but this is rare.”

The importance of hiring a professional sailor

We asked Jean about the advantages of sailing with a professional skipper.

“It’s important to sail with a professional skipper when you want to enjoy yourself with family or friends.
Why? Because the skipper is responsible for everything, looking after safety and the people on board, and managing port maneuvers and equipment. He’s a professional capable of making decisions and repairing 80% of the breakdowns that could occur on the boat.

An experienced skipper is a real advantage. As a boat renter, you have to be aware that whether it’s a new boat or an older one, there will always be a small problem to fix. And having a skipper on board means you don’t have to worry about this kind of problem, and he’ll know how to solve it.

Another advantage is that he knows the sailing area. He’ll have studied the maritime charts beforehand, checked the weather forecast, made sure that everything on board is working properly and that the boat is well fuelled. He makes sure we have everything we need. It’s a guarantee of safety when you’re dealing with a serious skipper.

Finally, the skipper is experienced, he knows how to anticipate and react.”

Why use Capt'n Boat?

“I work with Capt’n Boat because you made eveything easy: we sign up, we see the ads, all we have to do is apply to the ones that interest us, have the right profile and good feedback. As far as I’m concerned, you’ve made my job easier! You’ve got a substantial charter and boat delivery offer, which is great. On top of that, with the maritime employment solution, we contribute to our social charges, etc. It’s a solution that suits me very well, things are very clear and well managed.”

You too can use Capt’n Boat for your marine needs / to find assignments!