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The rapid spread of Zika virus through the Americas, together with the association of infection with microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome, have propelled this previously ignored virus into the limelight. 

Says Professor Esper Kallas of University of San Paolo, Brazil.

What is Zika?

Zika fever is transmitted among humans by mosquito bites. It is a member of the flavivirus family, which includes the dengue virus.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outline that “most individuals (75%) infected with Zika virus experience mild or no symptoms”. About 25% of infected people develop symptoms 2-10 days after infection in four people may develop mild flu symptoms and a light rash that can last between two and seven days.

The World Health Organisation says people affected should drink plenty of fluids, ensure they rest regularly and treat pain and fever with common medicines.

Which countries are affected?

The World Health Organization has placed travel notices for those countries experiencing the transmission of the ZIKA virus.

This list of countries currently includes the US Virgin Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, a U.S territory, Saint Martin, Barbados, Curaçao, Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Haiti and Jamaica. A map on the Pan American Health Organisation website is updated weekly.

Should we be concerned about Zika in St Vincent and the Grenadines?

There have been no reports of the Zika virus in the islands of St Vincent and the Grenadines, and no travel notices are issued by the World Health Organization (WHO).

If you are traveling to and from St Vincent and the Grenadines, do keep in mind that travelers who visit a country where Zika is found could still become infected if bitten by a mosquito in those areas (download our checklist to help avoid this HERE). Imported cases may result in local spread of the virus.

Prevention for Travelers

When traveling to countries where Zika virus or other viruses are spread by mosquitoes, it is important to take precaution:

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
  • Sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are overseas or outside and are not able to protect yourself from mosquito bites.

We have created a special Mosquito Prevention Travel Checklist for you to download below to help you reduce your risk of mosquito bites wherever you go!

In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have created a checklist for travellers which you can download directly from our checklist. We are dedicated to keeping you healthy and happy!

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We want you to experience the very best of the Grenadines with nothing to worry about except which island to which you would like to set sail 🙂

 

Valentines Day or Saint Valentines Day is traditionally a special celebration of all things LOVE.

This auspicious day is fast approaching this year and is widely celebrated throughout the islands of St Vincent and the Grenadines. This time of year is a big deal in the islands and you can expect to find special events at the numerous restaurants as you sail in and out of your favourite bays.

At Barefoot Yacht Charters, we make it simple for you to enjoy a romantic day out on the water, loved up and stress free. Treat your loved one to a romantic day sail, a relaxing glass of wine as the sun goes down or a stunning sunset dinner on deck under the stars.

There are many ways to enjoy the best of this special day, making the most of the stunning beaches, scenic walks, sunset spots and charming islands restaurants.

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Sail down the islands early to enjoy your romantic day relaxing in the Tobago Cays. Go for a gentle kayak or snorkel with the turtles by day then enjoy the romantic hours on the water at night.

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Take a sunset stroll along white sand beaches and watch the spectacular sunset as the sky turns shades of watermelon, rose pink and coral then spend the evening on your private charter boat under the stars.

BOSS National GeographicArrange a picnic rug and dinner (try Driftwood’s gourmet meals for the perfect romantic ‘to-go’ meals), a bottle of wine and enjoy an intimate dinner on any one of the beautiful west-facing beaches!

Enjoy dinner at Driftwood Restaurant on St Vincent, the cozy Bagatelle’ on the stunning Friendship Beach or the famous Basil’s Bar in Mustique. Many other restaurants often have special events on this special day.

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Whatever you dream of this Valentines Day, these beautiful islands have you covered.

On your Barefoot Yacht Charter, discover the Tobago Cays, where you will find the only natural turtle sanctuary in the Grenadines. Grab your mask and snorkel and dive into the tropical, turquoise waters. 

“Sea turtles are one of the Earth’s most ancient creatures. The seven species that can be found today have been around for 110 million years, since the time of the dinosaurs. The sea turtle’s shell, or “carapace” is streamlined for swimming through the water. Unlike other turtles, sea turtles cannot retract their legs and head into their shells. Their color varies between yellow, greenish and black depending on the species” – Ocean Defenders

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 Turtle Facts:

  • Sea Turtles feed mainly on jellyfish, seaweed, crabs, shrimp, sponges, snails, algae and mollusks.
  • Much like salmon, Sea Turtles will return to the same nesting grounds at which they were born.
  • When females nest, they come to the shore and dig out a nest in the ground with their back flippers. They will bury their eggs and then return to the ocean.
  • A female may lay between 70-190 eggs in her nest depending on the species. When the young hatch out of their eggs, they make their way to the ocean.
  • Green sea turtles can stay under water for as long as five hours even though the length of a feeding dive is usually five minutes or less. Their heart rate slows to conserve oxygen: nine minutes may elapse between heartbeats.

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The Tobago Cays snorkel area is easy to navigate. Dotted along the inside of horseshoe reef you will find red or white moorings that you can use to secure your dinghy for your aquatic adventure. In your preparation, allow for current and always take a buddy with you . The best time for spotting turtles is either in the morning or late afternoon.

While on your bareboat adventure, look out for sea turtles all around. Especially on the eastern side of Baradal Island where an exclusion zone has been created. Snorkelers can share this space with the turtles.

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Be cautious when approaching a resting turtle and as you enter their space. Snorkelers should not grab turtles in any way as they could drown if they are moved in the wrong direction.

Respect the turtles and their habitat and they will give you a beautiful memory to last a lifetime!

If you see a turtle yawn or open their mouth wide, it could be a trigger that they are uncomfortable with the close encounter. If they are afraid or disturbed, they may swim deep or quickly move away from you. Allow them to do so. In extreme distress, they may swipe their flippers over their forehead which is turtle talk for “flip off!”.

Turtles can swim in amazingly fast bursts.

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Sadly, these beautiful reptiles are now globally threatened with extinction and you can help to protect them and enjoy their beauty all at the same time.

It is important to know that the most common and largest threats to sea turtles are human related. While chemical spills and coastal development pose a large problem for marine life, entanglement in man-made garbage and ingestion of plastic bags (mistakenly thought to be jellyfish) are serious threats that affect the turtle population on a daily basis. A large proportion of this is sadly coming from recreational activities.

What we can do to help..

 Ocean Defender gives some helpful tips on how we can all help to reduce damage to Turtles and their habitats 

  • Reduce the Amount of Garbage You Produce, and take an extra beach bag to Clean Up Trash You See On the Beach. Sea turtles often become tangled in plastic and trash both on the shore and in the water. Discarded items such as fishing lines, balloons and plastic bags may also be confused for food and eaten by sea turtles, often resulting in injury or death.
  • Be Aware of Sea Turtle Nesting Areas and Avoid Nesting and Hatching Turtles. Sea turtles are cute, and therefore tempting to touch and observe – but flashlights and people disturb turtles when they are nesting, or trying to nest, on the beach. Make sure to give nesting areas plenty of space, and do not disturb females as they emerge from the ocean looking for a place to nest. Also be conscious of where nesting areas are so that you can avoid trampling the hatchlings as they head to the water.
  • Reduce the Amount of Chemicals You Use. The chemicals you use in and around your boat may be discharged into the sea – killing plants and animals. It is very important to properly dispose of toxic chemicals and, even better, reduce the number of chemicals you use or find alternative products such as biodegradable solutions will help to save the turtles!
  • There are countless ways in which you can make a positive difference in the lives of sea turtles. Organize a clean-up day with your friends and clear the beach of litter, give a presentation to your neighborhood or local school on things they can do to save sea turtles, and most importantly, talk to others about what they can do to make sure they are not putting these important creatures in danger.

If you see something floating in the water, jump into your dinghy and pick it up. You will most likely be saving a turtle’s life. Enjoy your turtle time in the Tobago Cays and creating magical moments with these beautiful, treasured reptiles.

“There are sea turtles everywhere, foraging right below our feet, peaceful but fearless. Nothing about them appears passive, so thick skinned and strong. I want to be like that, wise, peaceful and perfectly equipped to deal with anything. ” Michael J. Fox

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Two years down and more to go

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Nancy Hancock

Nancy Hancock, ASA Sailing Instructor for Barefoot Offshore Sailing School

For 2 years now, I have worked as a Sailing Instructor at Barefoot Offshore Sailing School – who would have thought it – after a 25 year career as a clothing designer/manufacturer and mother of 4 grown sprogs that I would be doing this 10 years later.

Well perhaps I did have an inkling of it when I first took sailing lessons 17 years ago – and got well and truly hooked. No different from most of the students I teach here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, many of whom cannot believe what they have ventured into when we set sail from the Blue Lagoon on the south shores of St. Vincent (where Barefoot Offshore Sailing School is based) and head across the Bequia Strait on a beam or broad reach to Bequia.

After seeing their nervous reaction to the seas I often laughingly ask them if they know where they are, “Where is this place you’ve chosen to take your sailing lessons?” – blank response – my answer “the Windward Islands” and the look of realization always makes me laugh. And in 6 days these same people are taking the same Bequia Strait upwind back to Barefoot in the Blue Lagoon happily crashing through the waves and loving every minute of it. And they always want to know exactly how high these waves are for the purpose of bragging rights of course.

The American Sailing Association 101 to Bareboat Skipper curriculum we teach here at Barefoot, and the location in which we teach it is the perfect blend of information mixed with hands on experience, and of course FUN.

This live-aboard offshore sailing school travels from the Blue Lagoon to Bequia, to Tobago Cays, Union Island, Petite St. Vincent, Mayreau, Canouan and back. It includes living aboard, which takes a bit of getting used to, but is totally embraced by all of our adventure seekers, and everywhere we go after anchoring we’re in the water, and every location we sail to has fabulous snorkelling. For many students this is the first time they have snorkelled in water that is so clear it feels like you’re flying above eagle rays, turtles, barracudas, moray eels, squid and more, all living in underwater gardens of an infinite variety of corals and sponges.

We prepare food together on board some nights and on others we eat at a couple of really fabulous and reasonable restaurants, but the eating out experience most of my students take away as the best is when Tim cooks them a family style meal in a shack on the beach called “Bolheads”, why bolhead? Because the owner is bald?

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Barefoot Sailing School

And in 6 days many of the students, especially those with some previous sailing experience are confident, competent sailors. And most of the time our small group has become very fond of each other and tears are sometimes shed when we part, and invitations to each other’s homes.   There is also much talk about the boats they will buy and my opinion of how to conduct their research etc.   That’s when I feel I have done a really good job. They are as hooked as I was. So when I hand over their log books I strongly urge them to take the logging of their sailing time seriously. Who knows, they might want to pay it forward some time in the future.

I’ve just finished teaching my last course this season and am now preparing my boat, MoondancerX – my home, for a leisurely sail down to Grenada where I will leave her for the hurricane season, and then home to Vancouver Island, British Columbia to spend the summer with my children, grand children and friends.  Not sure how much sailing I’ll be able to do while I’m there, and I do still love to sail in our Gulf Islands, but as the summer wanes I’ll be thinking of my second home in St. Vincent and the job of a lifetime which I am so lucky to have at this time in my life – a combination of all that I love to do – Sail, Snorkel, Dive, and teach while I introduce people from all walks of life to what I have learned and what I hope they would also love to.

So I’ll be back for my third year with Barefoot Offshore Sailing School in the fabulous Windward Islands – St. Vincent and the Grenadines, where I know I will meet with past students who are coming back for more, and for the new recruits whose expressions always make me chuckle when we head out of the Blue Lagoon, sailing across the Bequia Strait on their first foray.

Learn to Sail in the Caribbean

Earn ASA (American Sailing Association) Certification during our Liveaboard Sailing Courses in the beautiful Grenadines. We offer One Week Basic, Catamaran and Advanced Coastal Cruising sailing courses.

Already have Basic Certification? Barefoot Offshore Sailing School offers Weekend Courses which will take you to the next level. All this and a Caribbean vacation a lifetime!

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