Caribbean Ocean/Gulf Of Mexico

Sail through the US and British Virgin Islands
This body of water is bounded on the south by the South American Continent, on the west by Mexico and Central America, and on the north by the United States. It is spotted with many islands known as the Antilles. The Greater Antilles consist of the larger islands of Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola (split between Haiti and the Dominican Republic) and Puerto Rico. The Lesser (or smaller) Antilles are the eastern boundary of the Caribbean, with island chains extending north to south in two groupings, the Leeward Islands to the north, and the Windward Islands to the east and south. These groupings are so named because the prevailing winds from the Atlantic and Africa encounter the Windward Islands before they come to the Leeward Islands. The Leeward Islands extend from the Virgin Islands in the north to Guadeloupe in the south. The Windward Islands extend from Dominica (just south of Guadeloupe) to Grenada in the south. Included in the Caribbean are two other island groupings closer to Venezuela - Trinidad & Tobago, and the ABC Islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao. And not to be forgotten are the Cayman Islands south of Cuba and west of Jamaica. The Caribbean is usually graced with warm water and warm breezes in a narrow range of temperatures wonderful for sailing. However, from June to November, the islands are in the typical path for hurricanes coming from the Atlantic off of Africa. Many sailing ships abandon the Caribbean during these months for the Mediterranean or the Atlantic Coast of the U.S. The Caribbean islands range from relatively flat and featureless (the Cayman Islands) to mountainous (St. Lucia) and even volcanic (Montserrat). All have beaches and palm trees and all the things associated with a tropical island paradise. For centuries European nations particularly Spain, Britain, France, and the Netherlands) fought over their island colonies, and many of them changed hands from one nation to another and back again. Slaves from Africa and some indigenous natives were harnessed to till the land and export sugar to Europe, until slavery was abolished in the 1800's. While some islands remain as territories of France, England and the Netherlands, others have achieved independence. Much of the population in the islands is descended from the slaves who were brought to the islands centuries before.