Jamaica

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Jamaica is a pretty island with 350 miles of coastline and an abundance of natural harbours. The Montego Bay Yacht Club, the Royal Jamaica Yacht Club in Kingston and the marina in Port Antonio are the favourite places for yacht charters on the island.

Jamaica is an island country situated in the Caribbean Sea. It has a land area of nearly 11,000 square kilometres, making it one of the largest in the Greater Antilles. The island lies about 191 kilometres west of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. To the north lies Cuba, 145 kilometres away.

History

The indigenous Arawak and Taíno people lived here for hundreds of years until Christopher Columbus spotted Jamaica´s green and fertile land in 1494. Subsequently, the Spanish imposed their governance and took over the island. Sadly, many of the indigenous people died of disease as they had no defences against the new germs brought in by the settlers. The Spanish transplanted slaves from Africa to make up the shortfall in labour. The island remained in possession of Spain until 1655. At this time, England (later the UK) defeated the Spanish and renamed the island, Jamaica.

British rule

Under the rule of the British colonials, Jamaica became a leading sugar exporter. The plantations were dependent on African slaves to do the work. The British freed all slaves in 1838. However, many freedmen chose to remain on the island and started subsistence farms. From the 1840s, the British used Chinese and Indian labour to work on the sugar plantations. The island became independent in 1962.

Commonwealth country

Jamaica is a Commonwealth country, with Queen Elizabeth II as monarch and Head of State. The Queen´s appointed representative in Jamaica is the Governor-General. A Prime Minister heads the government.

Kingston is the country’s capital and largest city, and home to nearly a million people. Jamaicans mainly have African ancestry, but there are significant European, Chinese, Indian, Lebanese, and mixed-race minorities. During the 1960s, many Jamaican´s emigrated to other countries – notably the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada.

Sailing in Jamaica

The easterly trades blow 20 knots for most of the year. From Kingston to Portland Bight (the southeast part of the island ) has average winds of 25 knots. At night, there is often a cool mountain breeze from the mountains offshore (Katabatic winds).

Anchoring in Jamaica is usually relatively easy to do. The seabed is sand and turtle grass. There are a large number of fish traps set off the coast as fishing is a big part of island life. The traps can extend out to the 100 feet or more, along the coast. Therefore, sailors should keep a watchful eye when navigating around the island.

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