A Caribbean Sailing Charter At Night: Moonlight Symphony

Marwa Grimes

For anyone that has experienced it, there is no better way to relax than on a Caribbean sailing charter! Crusty old sailors, vacation brochures and charter booking agents rave about the brilliant sunshine, balmy trade-winds, clear turquoise blue waters, and incredible beaches.

Yet, because charters are usually not allowed to sail at night, few descriptions exist about what it is like to be on a Caribbean sailing charter once the sun sets and the stars come out. During the day, you are bombarded with the visual spectacle that makes the Caribbean so special, but at night the other senses take over, creating a moonlight symphony of sensations. Until you enjoy the wonderful thrill of being aboard in an anchorage at night, you simply cannot fully appreciate the beauty, quiet and peacefulness of a Caribbean sailing charter.

When you put the words, “sailing” and “moon” together, Full Moon Parties are usually what comes to mind. Many islands celebrate this phenomenon with parties under the bright, white light of the Caribbean full moon.

Two of the more popular parties exist in the British Virgin Islands. On Tortola, Bomba’s Full Moon Party is legendary throughout the Caribbean. Locals and vacationers drink, mingle, drink, dance, and drink. Although little more than a shack, Bomba’s serves a very potent rum punch as well as a mushroom tea. A more family friendly Full Moon Party takes place at Trellis Bay. Live local music, Mocko Jumbies, fire jugglers and twirlers, flaming balls of fire that light up the beach and a great Caribbean BBQ buffet make for family orientated fun while on a sailing charter.

Although these parties are entertaining, there is a certain soothing of the soul that occurs on a Caribbean sailing charter in a nighttime anchorage. Even without daylight, Mother Nature is beautiful. Contrary to what you might think, it is never totally dark. As the sun sets, you will experience a full range of intense hues that are unique to the Caribbean. Gradually the colors fade to purple and then a velvet black, and the moon bathes everything with a soft, bluish glow.

If there is a full moon, you will see a shining white path on the water, and you can actually see it for miles. Away from the artificial light of the cities, air pollution and fog, there is no better place, (or more romantic) for stargazing, than in the Caribbean.

Whether gazing from the deck of your sailing charter or through your open hatch as you lay in your stateroom, you will be amazed to see so many stars. In fact, because of their abundance, it can be difficult to pick out common constellations. One particular treat, however, is seeing the Southern Cross. This constellation is not visible in North America, but it clearly hangs low in the evening sky of the Caribbean.

In addition, it is common to see shooting stars, especially in the summer.

Another visual treat, is the bits of phosphorescent microorganisms that flash by your boat and then disappear, and the other sailboats in the anchorage also provide a visual feast. Anchor lights atop masts twinkle like some nearby celestial body. Fire from charcoal grills dance in the gentle trade winds, and the warm, inviting golden orange glow of cabin lights, shining through portholes, flicker on and off like fire flies, as sailors retire for the night.

A Caribbean sailing charter also provides a moonlight symphony for the ears. If you are sharing the anchorage, you might eavesdrop on bits of conversation or laughter that carries across the water, or hear the occasional hum of a dinghy engine bringing cruisers back home from an evening ashore. Strains of Jimmy Buffet, Enya or reggae music eventually fade to silence. The rhythmic clanging of a halyard against a mast, the squeaking of a loose boom or the gentle slapping of your dinghy, as it rocks with the waves, are common night sounds that soon become white noise.

Mother Nature also plays her part in this symphony. In the cabin, you can hear the crackle of tiny shrimp as they swim against the hull. The bleating of goats or the chirping of tropical night birds ashore is an island lullaby. And, if you are truly fortunate, you will be graced by the sound of water escaping the blow hole of a dolphin as it surfaces near your sailboat. These soothing sounds, along with the gentle rocking of your sailboat, will ensure the best night sleep you have ever experienced!

Finally, a Caribbean sailing charter at night will tickle your sense of smell. The faint whiff of kerosene is usually followed by the tantalizing aroma of food being grilled somewhere on shore or from one of your fellow cruiser’s sailboats. Sitting on deck or in the cockpit, you will inhale the fresh salt-tinged air that may have just a fruity hint of after sun lotion. In addition, the evening trade winds carry the intoxicating scent of tropical flora and pungent island spices. Being on a Caribbean sailing charter is a delightful, relaxing way to spend a vacation, but there is a special magic that occurs at night. The sights, sounds, and smells of the Caribbean will surround you in a moonlight symphony.

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