Pirates’ Nest or Heaven on Earth?
The subject of this text would drive one’s mind to think of the Caribbean in eight out of ten cases. Both the pirates’ nest and the heaven on earth are the top associations when someone mentions the Caribbean. Undoubtedly, but what do we really know about this area?
For most Europeans, the Caribbean refers to some mystical distant land or island about which the tales have been told, some distant land where the good fights the evil in the roles of brave sailor adventurers and explorers versus evil and ugly pirates. That would be the predominant image of the Caribbean in the minds of those who either never traveled there or sailed those waters. Well, let’s see what it really is about…
This region connects the two Americas with the Caribbean Sea where some interesting groups of islands found their home. The islands are divided into Greater and Lesser Antilles among which some became very popular and frequently visited by tourists and adventurers. It is interesting that these islands have a pretty rich history mostly influenced by great European forces such as the Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, Spain…
Some of the Caribbean islands still administratively belong to their colonial masters while lots of them are independent and organized in some sort of alliance. There are some 30 territories including sovereign states, overseas departments and dependencies. Let’s leave politics behind and talk about the interesting facts about the Caribbean.
First of all, let’s mention the island of Dominican Republic and Haiti. Although allegedly some early sailors such as Vikings have discovered America long before Columbus, this island is known as the land where the first European touched the American ground. As Columbus searched for a western route to India, these islands are often called the West Indies.
NW to Haiti lies Cuba, the home of the finest cigars and rum in the world, where the rhythms of salsa, merengue or cumbia never take rest. Further, towards the north, you will find the Bahamas; a group of islands which belong to the Caribbean although they are located in the Atlantic. Jamaica is also a part of the Caribbean. Excellent rum along with some ‘herbal’ delights is what you can expect here as well as world-known tranquility in the rhythm of ska.
The names which inspire me the most would be the Windward and the Leeward islands. When mentioned windward and leeward there is nothing else but sailing on my mind… These groups of islands were named after their position to the trade winds, prevailing winds which brought European sailors to the New World. Respectively, the Windward Islands would be the islands grouped in the arch of islands starting south of Guadeloupe and ending with Trinidad and Tobago.
The Leeward Islands are located to the north of the Windward Islands and consist of the Virgin Islands divided between the USA and Great Britain while Saint Martin, Saba, Sint Eustiatus, Saint Barthélemy and Guadelupe belong to French or Netherland’s authority; along with some independent island/countries. Leeward Islands should not be confused with the Leeward Antilles, a group of islands belonging to the southerly part of the Lesser Antilles. This group consists of Aruba, Curaçao and Bonaire along with dependencies of Venezuela.
The northerly part of the Caribbean belongs to Lucayan Archipelago where Bahamas, Turks and Caico Islands found their place. A lot more could be told about this mystical part of the world where some of the most intriguing sailing stories and legends were made so let me share them with you within following posts.
As the Caribbean are mentioned in the context of 700 islands, islets, reefs, and cays where allegedly summer never ends; it is more than true that this region refer to real sailors’ and holiday maker’s paradise. So, visit Sail Caribbean Yachts, find your charter yacht and explore these magnificent islands.
I wish you a calm sea, a fine wind and a strong mast!