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Old 13-10-2010, 09:10   #1
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Antigua to St. Maarten Bareboat Charter Advice

Hi folks,

I am currently planning a bareboat trip and I am considering a one-way charter from Antigua to St. Maarten. I don't sail much at home but have done previous charters in BVI (4) and Grenadines (1). I was hoping to get some advice on the sailing conditions between Antigua and St. Maarten. I know it will be significantly different than the BVI but was wondering how it compares to the Grenadines? I have a couple of new sailors in my group and I am concerned about how rough it will be. Besides the Grenadines, I also do not have a lot of open ocean sailing so I am wondering how challenging it will be. When I was in the Grenadines, we had mostly 15-20 knt days with a couple in the 20-30 range. The seas weren't too rough with the exception of the area around St. Vincent and Bequia where the swell was probably 6'-8'. We'll be chartering a Lagoon 440 by the way.

Also, my group prefers to stay more off the beaten path. I am wondering how the anchorages compare to those of the BVI or Grenadines.

Lastly, I am used to anchoring every night based on my experiences in the Grenadines. I assume most places up north require anchoring as well. Anything different about the anchorages in this area?

Thank you in advance for any help you can provide. I am really looking forward to trying a new destination but want to make sure it's the right place for my skills and my crew.
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Old 13-10-2010, 10:35   #2
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It is about 85 miles from the West coast of Antigua to Sint Maarten. The wind will be predominantly behind you. If the Christmas winds are blowing, the wind may be above 20 knots. There are some great anchorages on both the western and Eastern sides of Antigua. We like anchoring behind the reef at Bird island, in Mamora Bay, outside Jolly Harbour, and Deep Bay (a good place to leave from if you are going to Sint Maarten). Nevis, St Kitts, and Eustatious are south of your rum line but worth a trip ashore. St. Barths is on the way to Sint Maarten and well worth a stop. We enjoy the anchorage on the Western side - Columbier. There are free moorings there. Any questions?
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Old 13-10-2010, 11:34   #3
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Originally Posted by johnhe View Post
Hi folks,

I am currently planning a bareboat trip and I am considering a one-way charter from Antigua to St. Maarten.
Are there one way charters?

Maje
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Old 13-10-2010, 11:45   #4
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Good advice from speciald. Doing the one-way, downwind route gives you the opportunity to set a really interesting itinerary. Spend some time anchored out in Antigua's beautiful bays, then head west.

Western Antigua to Nevis - 45 nm on a downwind run.
Nevis has tons of very inexpensive government mooring buoys along Pinneys Beach, where you'll find several fun beach bars that serve up surprisingly good food.

Nevis to St. Barths - 50 nm on a broad reach.
It doesn't get rough like you experienced in the channel between Bequia and St Vincent. The ocean swells between the islands are generally fairly smooth and pretty regular, even if they build to 8'-10' in the Christmas Winds, and you'll be on a reach, which is a pretty comfortable point of sail.

If you want to see St Kitts and Statia, they're easy sails from Nevis. The channel between St Kitts and Statia can be a bit rough, but it's short. When the swells are running, the anchorage in Statia is the rolliest I've ever experienced. Statia to St Barths is about 28 nm, but you'll be on a close reach.

You should really enjoy this trip. Not your average ho-hum charter!
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Old 13-10-2010, 13:31   #5
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Thanks for the recommendations SpecialD. I am planning on getting the Cruising Guide so hopefully between your suggestions and the guide, I should be able to put together a good trip.

Hud, I was hoping you would chime in. I've read alot of your posts on this forum and you always seem to have a lot of good information. Thank you for the response. I think I am convinced that this is the right charter for my group.

It seems like in any destination, there is always one can't miss spot. For me in the BVI, it was Anegada. In the Grenadines, it was the Tobago Cays. Is there one specific place between Antigua, Nevis, St. Barts and St. Maarten that we shouldn't miss?
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Old 13-10-2010, 14:52   #6
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There's so much variety available that it's hard to know what to recommend without knowing what you and your crew will be interested in doing. You mentioned preferring out of the way places, and enjoying Anegada and the Tobago Cays. That would lead me to conclude that you're not looking for glitzy nightlife and fancy restaurants. I can relate to that.

Here are some thoughts. There are a number of other members here with a lot of experience to share, so I'm sure they'll chime in, too.

Out of the way anchorages:

In the shallow lagoon below Spanish Point, inside the Palaster Reef on Barbuda. Doyle's guide tells you how to get in and the cautions you need to exercise. We were the only boat in sight, anchored in 10 ft of gin-clear water over white sand. Dolphins and turtles messing around, some coral heads to snorkel, and endless peace and quiet. This is about as out of it as you can get in the eastern Caribbean.

Ditto Special Delivery: Great Bird Island, a remote island among the reefs on the north side of Antigua. After the few day-trippers left, we had the place totally to ourselves. Nice little hiking trail on the island, and some snorkeling opportunities. We left there and threaded our way out through the reef to head north to Barbuda. Exciting!

Ile Fourchue, west of St Barths, looks like a volcanic crater that's open on the south side. There will probably be a few boats there for lunch, snorkeling, and a hike ashore, but not enough to make you feel crowded.

Laid-back anchorages:

Pinneys Beach on Nevis will usually have enough boats to make the beach bars interesting, but not so many that you feel like you're in a herd. The beach is three miles of uncrowded, soft sand. Free WiFi at the Double Deuce and maybe others.

White House or Majors Bay on the southeast peninsula of St Kitts. A few boats, not much on shore. Good spot if the northerly swells are rockin' and rollin'. Skip Basseterre Harbour.

Ditto Special Delivery: Anse de Columbier, on the western end of St Barths. Very pretty spot. Hiking ashore over to the Atlantic side.

Tintamar Island, off the north coast of St. Martin, is uninhabited and pretty.

Don't miss Grand Case on St. Martin--the restaurants are fantastic (French), and they have an open air barbecue going, as well. It's a bustling little village, but not over-powering. Good snorkeling around Creole Rock.

Here's a link to Chris Doyle's website. It's got articles, sketch charts and photos. Not as detailed as the guidebooks, but helpful for getting the flavor of the islands.

Caribbean Islands
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Old 13-10-2010, 14:55   #7
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Don't Miss = Barbuda

Sailing Conditions - You did not mention time of year? - definitely much more like the Grenadines

Planning - Doyle's Guide = absolutely
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Old 13-10-2010, 17:31   #8
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You are right, I forgot that part. We are currently planning on going down the middle of March 2011.

Hud,

Awesome. That is exactly the kind of advice I was looking for. We are not looking for glitzy nightlife or fancy restaurants. Mostly we enjoy quiet anchorages with the occasional casual restaurant or a good beach bar. Thanks again.
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Old 13-10-2010, 21:29   #9
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Are there one way charters?

Maje
I did that trip with Sunsail about 15 years ago.
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Old 14-10-2010, 00:28   #10
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I've done the run from Antigua (Falmouth Harbour and Jolly Harbour) to St. Martin (Marigot) a couple of times. When in a hurry and not planning on enjoying the sights, I sail to Nevis and arrive around sunset to take an overnight mooring, then depart early the next morning for either St. Barths or St. Martin. This is, as Hud3 mentions (and whom I met on one of those trips), a downwind and a broad reach leg and two easy distances even in a smaller and/or slower boat.

But on a charter I'd head up to Barbuda, then across to Nevis for a couple of days and then either up to St. Barths or to Saba Rock (if the weather permits) and from there to St. Martin.

If you look at December 2009 Trip Blog and Diary and Summer 2010 Trip Blog and Diary 2010-05-12 it describes, day-by-day the passages to and from Antigua.
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Old 14-10-2010, 14:07   #11
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I have another question.

In terms of boat traffic, island population, cruise ships etc, would you consider this area alot busier/about the same/less busier than the Grenadines?
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Old 14-10-2010, 14:27   #12
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Most Busy
St Maarten/St Martin
St Barths
Antigua
Bequia
St Kitts
Nevis
rest of the Grenadines
Statia
Saba



Barbuda
Least Busy
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Old 14-10-2010, 14:37   #13
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Johnhe, I like Nevis and St. Eustatius too... You can check in and out with both the ports and the customs guys... so you can show up for a day, spend 20 minutes with the authorities... go explore and when you're ready jump on the boat and leave.... Statia has awesome snorkeling and beautiful hikes... only thing to watch if you go by Nevis and Statia is if there is north in the winds you can have a little bit of a bumpy sail home.... Also keep an eye on fronts coming out of the north form Miami and NY.. they can send north winds for a few days and big swells... generally late october - MArch or april... but there will still be good windows....often we are all alone in the anchorage in Statia. They have pretty good anchoring balls there too....only diving with companies on the island though. Go find Kate at the national parks office for a hiking guide.
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Old 16-10-2010, 11:39   #14
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We are planning a similar charter this November but not one way. We wanted to do a circular trip St Martin - St Kitts - Nevis - Antigua - Barbuda - Barts - St Martin.

We have 2 weeks on a 40' cat to complete the trip.

I would be interested in any comments / advice about the planned route. I am assuming a CCW direction would be slightly better in the NE trades ?

Thanks for any help.
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Old 16-10-2010, 12:35   #15
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All those islands you mention sure are fun. I really like St. Maartin. Philipsburg is a nice place to anchor up for a while. Fantastic boardwalk all along the beach. Cool town. The guy who made the puppet Yoda for Star Wars movies has a museum dedicated to Yoda there. About 100 different types of rum to be found. Love the chonch lunches. Caribbean to the core. Then there is the French side of the island...
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