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By No owner — last modified May 26, 2016 12:49 PM

 Jamaica - Profile

Facts

  • Jamaica is a beautiful island with hundreds of miles of coastline (approx. 350 miles) and an abundance of natural harbours. The marina in Port Antonio, the Montego Bay Yacht Club and the Royal Jamaica Yacht Club in Kingston are popular places with cruisers. All three facilities have very good security.
  • Repair facilities are few and far between. All three docking facilities mentioned have repair men from a variety of trades available, and the boatyards at Port Antonio and the Royal Jamaica Yacht Club have haul out facilities.
  • For most of the year, the easterly trades blow 20 knots. The southeast corner (Kingston to Portland Bight) has an average 5 knots higher. At night cool mountain air slides down the mountains to create an offshore breeze (Katabatic winds).
  • Tidal variation in Jamaica is about one foot.
  • Anchoring in Jamaica is normally fairly easy as the bottom is usually sand and turtle grass.
  • There are a great number of fish traps set off the coast of Jamaica. They normally extend out to the 100 feet mark and thus along the coast, one should keep a watchful eye. Keep about one mile off shore as you move around the island.

Security

Unfortunately Jamaica's (outdated) reputation for crime, muggings and theft keeps many yachtsmen away. However the majority of crime takes place in the ghettos of Kingston and tourists are rarely targeted. With a reasonable level of prudence, cruising Jamaica can be an interesting and exciting experience.

It is recommended for security reasons to anchor only in well known tourist harbours, or anchorages where there is an absence of inner-city poor communities. Based on reports to Noonsite from cruisers, petty theft from yachts is on the rise in the Caribbean in general. Cruisers should take basic safety precautions and use common sense when leaving the boat or going ashore at night. Dinghy thieves operate throughout the Caribbean and best advice is to place your dinghy on deck and chain it overnight.

The Caribbean Safety and Security Net (safetyandsecuritynet@gmail.com) provides information by anchorage or by island, so sailors can plan their cruising in the Caribbean with an eye to appropriate behaviour and precautions wherever they decide to go. Should you have suffered a boarding, robbery or attack on your yacht or have information about a yachting-related security incident, go to the CSSN homepage and click on the "Report an Incident" icon. The associated form is quick and simple to complete and ensures that all the necessary details are reported. The CSSN is the most comprehensive source of Caribbean security incidents against sailors. Remember, it is every cruiser's responsibility to ensure that incidents are reported. Also cruisers can subscribe to e-mail alerts, follow on facebook and twitter and listen to the SSB Voice Service.

Also be sure to check the Noonsite Piracy & Safety Pages

Last updated February 2016.

Weather

The climate is tropical and humid, and Jamaica lies in the hurricane zone. The hurricane season lasts from June to November.

The winds of Jamaica normally blow from the East and are called the Trade Winds. However, there are many variations. Early in the trade wind season, from December through April, Jamaica gets wind from “Northers” that come down from Canada and the United States. These northerlies usually blow for 1 to 3 days and can vary in intensity from mild to quite strong. When a northerly is blowing, the north coast of Jamaica becomes restless and one must work to find a secure anchorage. Aside from Port Antonio in the SE corner and Montego Bay towards the SW corner of the island, there are very few harbors in between that are suitable for a hard northerly blow on the north coast, with the exception of Bogue Lagoon which is a true hurricane hole.

The Trade Winds blow mostly from due east, but on the north coast veer to the north and the winds tend NE on that side. On the south side the winds veer to the south and the wind is generally south of east on that side. Late in the trade wind season as you approach summer, the trade winds become SE, and the north shore becomes more protected as it is more in the lee at that time of the year.

The south coast is more secure than the north coast when northerlies blow; but less secure when the rare, but possible, westerly blows through.

Below is a list of harbours on the north coast that can provide refuge when the weather is not good.

  • Port Antonio - Excellent
  • Montego Bay - Fair
  • Bogue Lagoon - Excellent
  • Ocho Rios - Fair
  • St. Ann’s Bay- Good behind reef
  • Discovery Bay- Good/East side of bay
  • Oracabessa - Fair
  • Falmouth - Uncertain


Jamaica Meteorological Service

For links to free global weather information, forecast services and extreme weather information see the Noonsite Weather Page

Main Ports

Share |
Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
May 26, 2016 12:48 PM

Posted on behalf of Miki Barzam on “Two Oceans”
Negril Bay – technical support could be available at the water-sport center of the resort on the beach. Ask for the hourly rate beforehand and haggle if necessary. An electrician named Santos did a good job making one good alternator out of two bad ones.

Lior Keydar
Lior Keydar says:
Oct 26, 2015 08:17 AM

Let me recommend u on a very good and friendly lady - Ingrid- that took us to an emasing day trip in Jamaica. She has a safe and comfortable car and she took us with our kids to the most Emasing spots around kingston but she can come to other location. I really recommend. You will enjoy for sure as we did
876-788-5655 or 876-425-2582 and email is imevans5@hotmail.com

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Sep 10, 2015 09:21 PM

Yes it's misleading, having looked at Frank Virgintino's guide it clearly states in one place that Port Kaiser should be avoided except in an emergency (as it's a commercial port), and then in another section on approaches to Jamaica does indicate that clearance can be made at Port Kaiser. This is a mis-print and the new edition of the guide currently being worked on will be amended accordingly. So - in short - Port Kaiser is not a clearance port and not a port for cruising yachts. Frank Virgintino apologises for any confusion that might have been caused.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Sep 09, 2015 07:49 PM

Posted on behalf of Brian Anderson (S/V Red Shoes):
Any advice please: my cruising guide to Jamaica indicates one can "clear in" at Port Kaiser if arriving from the south. But the Port does not seem to offer any welcome to yachts, and no Customs services. Is the cruising guide mistaken? Thank you for any information.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Feb 09, 2015 10:21 PM

Posted on behalf of Andreas and Cordula Raimund of SY Aphrodite (Germany):

After three years we visited Jamaica for the second time. We enjoyed the Montego Bay Yacht Club and also specially Port Antonio. Anchorages are never crowded, people are extremely friendly and we felt never unsafe. But the best is the country side and the Blue Mountains. We drove with our guide (David Rhoden tel. +1 876 385-1305) to the Blue Mountains for several days. David showed us the country, the nature and the mountains.

We will surely come back. Thanks David.

Elessar
Elessar says:
Apr 08, 2014 02:06 PM

We really know nearly all about diesel engines. But we had a problem with the pomp. We could not find out. In Montego Bay there is Rohan, he is very specialist about that.In 5 minutes he knew the solution about our problem. Phone (876)428-4025 and (876)952-8958.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Apr 08, 2014 12:49 PM

Additional information provided by Elessar (above):
We cleared in in Bowden Harbour, no problem. There we have said, next harbour is Jamaican Royal Yacht Club in Kingston. We arrived in normal time, they had got the paper "Bowden Harbour - JRYC" also in normal time. But on Saturday morning they came, give us the paper for next harbour and took the money. It was about 7.30a.m., but we asked not for coming so early. All of us had been still sleeping!

Elessar
Elessar says:
Mar 22, 2014 02:32 PM

We payed on Saturday at 8 a.m. to the customs in Kingston 65 USD!

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Feb 19, 2014 03:29 PM

Posted on behalf of Steve Gould, who writes:
I have a report on the danger of sailing along the Jamaican coast at night time. I filed an "Official Complaint" with the Jamaican Coast Guard after their attempted boarding of my vessel. Their vessel was an "open fisherman" which was sitting and waiting with no lights until within 200 yards of us. The only light they displayed throughout the episode was a bow light they turned on after charging at our vessel. They had no radio, no visible markings, barked for me to "stop your vessel" and then barked "we are boarding your vessel" repeatedly. They made many attempts to board over the period of one hour and were only held back by my clear intention to repulse them with a machete. It is clear the Coast Guard is a danger to cruisers. The manager of the Errol Flynn Marina told me he had a similar encounter.

Jamaica
Bowden Harbour/Port Morant
Kingston
Montego Bay
Ocho Rios
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