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Old 12-06-2011, 16:30   #1
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Antigua, St. Martin or Bahamas for Winter Charter ?

I would like to charter a boat in the first half of January for two weeks. In the last three years (always early January) we have sailed in the BVI's, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Belize. The question is where next?
1. Abacos looks wonderful and I don't mind chilly weather but I have heard that it can be subject to 4 day cold fronts during which sailing is difficult.
2. Antigua seems great for a week but maybe not for two. I may be able to get overnight permission in which case is it feasible to do a round trip via Barbuda, St Martin, St Barts etc and back to Antigua?
3. Antigua or St Martin?

It would be good to know of any good snorkeling places as well. We have been spoilt by the destinations we have visited before.

Any suggestions for a two week itinerary would be most welcome. We are more into quiet anchorages.
Thank you
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Old 12-06-2011, 18:28   #2
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Re: Antigua, St Martin or Bahamas? winter charter

Hello Raggio and welcome to this forum.

I don't know about Antigua so I can't answer your question completely. But if you don't mind the potential for cold, the Bahamas are really nice.

Since you are new, you may not know about the Google forum search. If you click on the search button on the top of the screen, then choose the second search box, you can type in "Antigua charter" or "abaco charter". You will get a lot of threads and many posts in them that usually will answer your question. Maybe not, but most of the time. I use it quite often. Good luck.
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Old 12-06-2011, 19:00   #3
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Re: Antigua, St Martin or Bahamas? winter charter

From Antigua or St Martin your tour is feasible but still rather rushed for only two weeks. You can easily spend a week in Barbuda if you are a snorkeler/swimmer/diver. It is amazing how fast the time flies when cruising and a big mistake is to try to do too much, too many islands.
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Old 12-06-2011, 19:04   #4
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Re: Antigua, St Martin or Bahamas? winter charter

I think I would vote Antigua over St Martin, but both have their own nice stuff.. Bahamas are #1 for me , but probably not January.
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Old 12-06-2011, 19:36   #5
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Re: Antigua, St Martin or Bahamas? winter charter

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It is amazing how fast the time flies when cruising and a big mistake is to try to do too much, too many islands.
Good Advice.
I do that every time and always regret it. My last trip was my "slowest" and we still only spent 3 days per island. Not that you don't want to move every day, but maybe like 10 miles, not 40.
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Old 12-06-2011, 19:45   #6
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Re: Antigua, St Martin or Bahamas? winter charter

I've sailed the Abacos the last 7 winters in January and a few previous to that.

As you mentioned one can get the cold fronts which can have their pluses and minuses. Sometimes they bring very strong winds, but often they can also provide a great opportunity to head south. The water can be a bit cool for swimming, but that's hit and miss as well. I swam comfortably most of this last January-March. It was cooler the winter previous.

The Sea of Abaco and many places on either of the Bahamas Banks offer a reduced sea state as to what one would see in many of the Caribbean destinations under similar winds.

For me, the biggest appeal to St. Martin is the french cultural aspect of cruising there. What I like most about the Bahamas are all the uninhabited islands that one doesn't find in most charter destinations. I just returned today from a week charter in the Abacos and we had an anchorage to ourselves 2/3 of the nights.
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Old 12-06-2011, 19:45   #7
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Re: Antigua, St Martin or Bahamas? winter charter

If you want to snorkel then Antigua/Barbuda wins hands down over St. martin. No comparison at all. The Bahamas are great for snorkelling but bring a wet suit - You will need one.
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Old 12-06-2011, 20:32   #8
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Re: Antigua, St Martin or Bahamas? winter charter

Welcome Aboard CF

Hard decision to make. I like both St. Martins because of the 2 cultures at one location. Good snorkeling around the islanf...
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Old 15-06-2011, 10:15   #9
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Re: Antigua, St Martin or Bahamas? winter charter

Many thanks indeed for this excellent advice and especially to Palarran for the tip about the Google search option. A very useful tool.

It seems that the Bahamas would probably win hands down but for the probably cool time of year and that Antigua/ Barbuda would be the best alternative as far as marine life is concerned. St Martin best for shore life.
I have two more quick questions:
1. I am happy to be at sea for days and cherish choppy seas. However, my much better half enjoys this less. How do passages in the Leewards compare with those in (say) the Grenadines?
2. Having seen the options I am looking at and remembering that we have sailed in the BVI's, Grenadines and Belize is there anywhere that I am overlooking as an option?
Many thanks again. This an extraordinary resource.
Best wishes to all.
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Old 15-06-2011, 10:26   #10
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Re: Antigua, St Martin or Bahamas? winter charter

mostly all short day sail passages, I would say Leewards shorter and easier than the Grenadines...but it really depends on which islands you're talking. For snorkeling I think the Bahamas wins over all of them. BTW, there is now a charter base in Eleuthera...which allows you to hop over to the Exumas etc. Search: Cape Eleuthera Marina Resort
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Old 15-06-2011, 10:29   #11
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Re: Antigua, St Martin or Bahamas? winter charter

Try the Exumas, much nicer than Abaco. There is a charter company now in Nassau. Two weeks in the Exumas would meet all your expectations. The snorkeling is unbeatable and there are still many quiet anchorages.
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Old 15-06-2011, 11:20   #12
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Re: Antigua, St Martin or Bahamas? winter charter

What is your experience level? BVIs are a good starter charter. I live in Sint Maaarten 6 months of the year. There are many islands to visit in a two week stay - all with in about 40 mile range. It will be open-water sailing. I like Antigua but it is more by itself. Both Moorings and Sunsail are in Oyster Pond at the border of French and Dutch sides of the island.
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Old 15-06-2011, 11:28   #13
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Re: Antigua, St Martin or Bahamas? winter charter

Quote:
Originally Posted by Unicorn Dreams View Post
Hard decision to make. I like both St. Martins because of the 2 cultures at one location. Good snorkeling around the islanf...
Where around St. Martin did you find "good" snorkeling? Wife and I spent close to two months there this year and were very disappointed with coral and sea life in all the places we snorkeled. Our favorite place to see fish and colorful coral was Salt Pond Bay on St. John, USVI.

If you are looking for relatively unspoiled and uncroweded places to cruise (at least compared to BVIA's), consider US and Spanish VI's. The islands are all within a day sail of each other and have somewhat more moderate weather than St. Martin, for example.
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Old 15-06-2011, 12:30   #14
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Re: Antigua, St Martin or Bahamas? winter charter

When I vacation I always like to go for the most tranquil area. Life is so busy that I just want to relax and not get more exhausted on my vacation. Look into which area will feet more your needs or wants. I could be happy with sitting in a recliner in a boat just looking at the ocean for two weeks. LOL. That is life for me. LOL
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Old 15-06-2011, 13:09   #15
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Re: Antigua, St Martin or Bahamas? winter charter

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Try the Exumas, much nicer than Abaco. There is a charter company now in Nassau. Two weeks in the Exumas would meet all your expectations. The snorkeling is unbeatable and there are still many quiet anchorages.
Wow. I've been trying to find a charter place in Nassau to no avail.. know the name or link??
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