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Old 22-05-2015, 15:07   #1
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Antigua to St. Martin Charter?

I am looking into a one-way charter from Antigua to St. Martin for my family in the Winter (Dec/Jan) or Spring (Mar/Apr). Our experience includes around 10-12 charters in the BVIs, a SVI-BVI-SVI charter a little over a year ago and I did one charter out of San Diego about 15 years ago, including a passage to Catalina. That said, we have generally avoided the combination of large swells and big winds that I have heard can exist in the Leward Islands. However, I am looking to expand our cruising beyond the confines of the Virgin Islands. Just trying to determine if we are up to the challenge.

What are the typical conditions we could expect between and around Antigua and St. Martin? Does going around Christmas/New Years versus going later in Spring make much of a difference in terms of potential conditions? I feel like I am fairly competent from a chartering standpoint with about 120+/- days of chartering experience as well as ASA through 104/114, but don't want us to get in over our heads. Based on our experience and qualifications does it sound like we're ready for a Leward Island charter?

FWIW, the crew would be myself, my wife, our son who is 14 and our two daughters 7 and 10. I would be looking at a minimum of 10 days on the boat, but ideally two weeks so that we wouldn't be too rushed and could be a bit selective on the passages. I do like the idea of the one-way Antigua to St. Martin itinerary as it would give us a lot of varied experiences, both in terms of sailing and culture. Hopefully it would also offer a slight glimpse into the challenges and rewards of the cruising lifestyle, as we have a loose goal of buying a boat and cruising in the future.

Thanks for any input!

Matt
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Old 22-05-2015, 15:21   #2
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Re: Antigua to St. Martin Charter?

Hi Matt - in either season (Winter (Dec/Jan) or Spring (Mar/Apr)) that will be a good charter. More wind in the winter, and maybe a little more on the beam if the Christmas Winds stay N of E, but generally off the wind both seasons. Lighter and more relaxing in the spring. In the winter you can get North "swell events" which aren't so swell if you're in a N exposed anchorage, but these are forecast well in advance so you can plan around them.

Yes, larger swells in portions of the route than you're used to, but not so much a problem going in that direction. On the wind could be another matter....

Of note, going around Christmas/New Years will be way more expensive, but if the March/April time frame coincides with Easter Break in North America, maybe the costs will be similar.

With your prior charter experience, this will be child's play. I doubt you'll feel over your head. Go for it and don't miss Barbuda.....

Dave
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Old 23-05-2015, 04:15   #3
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Re: Antigua to St. Martin Charter?

I just sailed from Antigua to St. Martin, but did it in one go
From Antigua you can head to Barbuda, which not many people visit. Then you can head straight downwind to the southern tip of Nevis and then head around the leeward side to Charlestown to clear in; or go a little further south and visit another island that isn't frequented - Montserrat. Nevis is interesting, as is St. Kitts and from there you can head to Statia (St. Eustatius) and then either to Saba in settled conditions or back upwind to St. Barths. From St. Barths it is just a couple of hours sail back to St. Martin. All in all you can see and experience a lot. The itinerary I just sketched out needs a bit of time to complete; the sailing distances aren't great - No passage is more than 40 miles (except Barbuda to Nevis at 60NM if you do that).
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Old 23-05-2015, 08:10   #4
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Re: Antigua to St. Martin Charter?

Thanks for the replies and encouragement 2Hulls and Zanshin. I briefly ran this by the admiral last night and she seemed into it, so it's looking promising. Just need to coordinate between our schedules and kids schedules. I was seeing some airfare for a reasonable price (even in late December and early January) as long as we can be a little flexible as to travel days. I think traveling while school is still in session could save a significant sum. We're ok with our kids missing a few days of school in exchange for quality family time.

I have been on Google Earth looking at potential routes and have one similar to what you suggest Zashin. Antigua to Barbuda to Nevis to St. Kitts and probably Eustatius. Then straight to St. Barts and on to St. Martin, maybe Anguilla if we have the time. This should give us flexibility in terms of passage timing as well as allow a few days at some of the islands. I think Montserrat is off limits for most charter companies. Saba looks interesting but I don't like the into-the-weather passage to get to St. Barts. Who knows though, if we have time and the weather cooperates maybe we would fit it in. That's the great thing about being on a charter - there are really only two days where you have to be on a schedule. The more I look into it the more I love the idea of this charter. Lots of variety between beaches and history with some nice dining options thrown in and just a bit of shopping to keep the wife happy. And of course, some sailing that will offer us a bit more of a challenge than we get in the BVIs.

Thanks again!

Matt
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Old 23-05-2015, 10:26   #5
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Re: Antigua to St. Martin Charter?

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2Hulls View Post

Of note, going around Christmas/New Years will be way more expensive, but if the March/April time frame coincides with Easter Break in North America, maybe the costs will be similar.
Xmas day can have the cheapest flights of the year...some real bargains to be had.
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Old 23-05-2015, 13:39   #6
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Re: Antigua to St. Martin Charter?

Avoid the Christmas Winds. Be ready to get sea sick.
I prefer the Guadaloupe area. Much better food.
Good luck
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Old 23-05-2015, 13:47   #7
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Re: Antigua to St. Martin Charter?

Hiya - I think all the above plans sound feasible, but be aware that you can't (at this time) clear out of Antigua & Barbuda from Barbuda - You may have to visit Barbuda, and then return to Antigua for the formalities to be dealt with legitimately!
Antigua - Nevis is a doddle - if the wind is too far behind you for approach from the south you can always look at going through the Narrows between Nevis & Kitts - not as black as it is painted! Once through you can choose which island to visit first - both well worth visiting!
Good luck & enjoy your cruising!
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Old 23-05-2015, 14:13   #8
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Re: Antigua to St. Martin Charter?

Hi Matt, went to Antigua last December and had a great time, there are some great places to explore and enjoy. We had 10 days and could have spent another . St Martin would involve customs with the agro that brings. The only problem with December were the mosquitos and they were vicious. Have a great time
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Old 23-05-2015, 14:38   #9
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Re: Antigua to St. Martin Charter?

Aggravation with customs and immigration in the French Islands, keensailor?


There is no other country that makes clearing in and out as easy as France does. Usually one can clear in with 10 minutes and the fees are always around 5 Euros.
I'm in St. Martin right now, and I just tried to clear in at Anse Marcel coming from St. Barths, and I had lengthy discussion with the port captain there, who wouldn't even let me clear in - he said that since St. Barths was also France I was already cleared in and that despite my having cleared out of there (I speak French, so nothing was lost in translation here).


Customs & Irritation in the ex-British colonies such as Antigua & Barbuda, Anguilla or the BVI is much more time-consuming and arduous!


capnmatt - if you have the energy, take a look at my web site and follow my blog backward from the current date - I have lots of weeks in the BVI, St. Martin, St. Barths and Antigua this trip and perhaps you might find the odd anchorage you like in amongst the pictures.
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Old 23-05-2015, 16:22   #10
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Re: Antigua to St. Martin Charter?

Aside from the resorts along the north shore, Antigua is mostly a drinking island, IMHO. There is a zip line attraction in the interior which opens when cruise ships dock. Nelson's Dockyard is nice, but a tourist trap. The yacht club is home to some incredible boats, worth a walk along the docks. If you can avoid going ashore, the natural beauty of the place is incredible. Rather than frequent the overpriced tourist restaurants, try the roadside vendors that popup at mealtimes...thats the real food.

I think you are going to have a great trip, a great adventure.
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Old 23-05-2015, 16:25   #11
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Re: Antigua to St. Martin Charter?

[QUOTE=Zanshin;1831969]Aggravation with customs and immigration in the French Islands, keensailor?


There is no other country that makes clearing in and out as easy as France does. Usually one can clear in with 10 minutes and the fees are always around 5 Euros.


I concur: Having spent much time in St.Maarten/St. Martin I always check in and anchor on the French side, far less hassle and least cost.
$US are accepted at Euro par if you pay cash making fuel cheaper.
Chandlers/ boat repairs and supplies are better on the Dutch side.
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Old 26-05-2015, 12:12   #12
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Thumbs up Re: Antigua to St. Martin Charter?

Hello Matt,
Most excellent post and comments from all! Very Helpful and relevant...
In fact, we are planning on a similar trip... And I can use your collective knowledge... What charter company are you using? What are your "one-way" fees, etc...?? Please PM me.... let's compare notes as we go along!

I have not begun to make reservations... but I know I need to get on it.
Cheers,
Jeff
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Old 26-05-2015, 17:40   #13
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Re: Antigua to St. Martin Charter?

Hiya
I am based in Jolly Harbour, Antigua & would highly recommend Horizon Yacht Charters for a Bareboat charter in this area - find them on Google!
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Old 26-05-2015, 18:04   #14
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Re: Antigua to St. Martin Charter?

Second Horizon Yacht Charters
I have used them all
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Old 20-07-2015, 12:31   #15
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Re: Antigua to St. Martin Charter?

Just circling back to this thread. My wife and I are working on our travel plans for the upcoming year and I think the Antigua to St. Martin trip is a go. However, dates have shifted to either early April or the last two weeks of June. From a logistics point of view June would be preferable with very reasonable charter rates and the kids wouldn't have to miss any school. However, I always get nervous about what conditions will be like. Not so much about a hurricane coming through as the odds of something hitting that early are quite slim. More concerned about getting skunked. We were in the BVIs this past June and first week of July and had plenty of wind during the last two weeks of the trip, and nice wind during the first week. However, I don't think it was the norm and I don't know if we should expect similar conditions during late June between Antigua and St. Martin. I just don't want to get stuck motor-sailing for 200 miles in the summer heat of the Caribbean. Anyone care to comment? I know it's impossible to predict conditions eleven months out, but what is the norm? Any other reasons to favor one time over the other (June vs. April)?

Thanks,

Matt
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