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Old 14-12-2010, 22:31   #1
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BVIs vs St Martin / Sint Maarten

I notice almost twice as many people on the St Martin forums versus the BVI - I've been to the BVI 4 times now and am addicted so to speak - great sailing, food, restaurants, the people are awesome, beaches, bars..,

So what is it about St Martin? I'm very open minded and just want to learn about other peoples experiences - what are the pros and cons of both islands? I know one is not "better" than the other but what are the differences?
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Old 14-12-2010, 23:59   #2
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To this full time cruisier I avoided the BVI's because it was full if bare-boat charters enjoying their vacation. They had not shead their urban shackles.and so didn't or couldn't accept other people who were strangers to them. Most of them had completed their ASA approved sailing school and appeared self rightous in their knowledge, I grew tired of being on a port tack and have a boat harden up their sails to cut acrossed my bow to yell STARBOARD. Sailing was a drag race from mooring field to mooring field and you had to be at the next mooring field by 2pm or you were way to hell and gone from shore. Because they were on vacation they didn't mind paying inflated prices for everything. $30 a night mooring fees would destroy my budget! A $35 dollar dinner would cost $12 in St Maarten. Foxy is over 75 and smoking all his life hase destroyed his singing voice so that's just a T-shirt stop.

I'm sure if I thought for awhile I could think up more reasons.
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Old 15-12-2010, 02:33   #3
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Busyengineer,
Are you asking as a bareboater or a cruiser? Basically the BVI is a much better sailing area with more anchorages. St. Martin is rougher sailing with less anchorages. They are both expensive. although the mooring situation in the BVI can break the bank IF you use them. There are alternatives.

Of course there are many differences. What is important to cruiser, may not be for a bareboater. That is why I ask.

And Foxy doesn't smoke, never has. As early as 1986 he was always getting on my case for smoking.
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Old 15-12-2010, 06:29   #4
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BVI hands down is just a lot nicer place to be. Don't get me wrong I liked St. Maarten too, but if I had to choose. It would be BVI, and especially if you have kids along.....i2f
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Old 15-12-2010, 08:44   #5
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As someone who's done charter exchange time at both, I prefer the sailing , anchorages and snorkeling the BVIs offer, but like the cultural experience and cheaper wine that St. Martin/St. Baths offers. From a charter perspective, I also don't like that the Moorings, St. Martin has put some of my favorite anchorages off limits for overnight. Even through the BVIs have more people, I find it easier to find a more secluded anchorage there.
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Old 15-12-2010, 08:56   #6
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The BVI's is ok I guess and the sailing ares are more sheltered.. but after a week there I'm ready to leave... for me its reminiscent of the Costa's in Spain... not for the views but the people who go there..
Then I head French side St Martin where things are quiter and calmer... here and there one can still get a whiff of 'how it was'...
Dutch side is too BVI's...
My 1st trip to the Islands was Antigua in '68... how things have changed...
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Old 15-12-2010, 09:41   #7
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BusyEngineer, are you refering to the amount of poster on traveltalkonline? If so, that is because the SXM forum is made up of land dwellers and the BVI is made up of boaters. Theres a lot more landlubbers then boaters.

For the difference, I would prefer the BVI's. But, it would cost almost double for me to keep my boat there and I really like the captain who cares for it in my absense.

St. Martin has a lot of crime right now. It isn't an opinion, it's fact. You have to be constantly aware of what is going on around you unless your at Tintamarre, Anse Marcel, or Ile Fourchure. Anguilla and St. Barts are very nice. Unless you can speak fluent French, the residence of St. Bart's are fairly uppity.

I like the sailing in the BVI's much better. The views of so many islands is unparalleled in the leewards. The people are nicer, IMO. There are many positives for BVI and for me, the only negative is the expense. Flights are $250 more per person to EIS then SXM and it takes about 2 hours longer from Chicago. I think you can get great meals at both places, but St. Martin probably is better and cheaper in general for food and drink.
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Old 15-12-2010, 09:44   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nautical62 View Post
I also don't like that the Moorings, St. Martin has put some of my favorite anchorages off limits for overnight.
Which ones are off limits? I haven't chartered with them but I see their boats everywhere.
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Old 15-12-2010, 10:09   #9
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As a cruiser and not a charterer, I still prefer the BVI's. I have been to both with my boat many times.
- - St Martin has the attraction for a cruiser of the dual countries with cheap prices on the Dutch side for parts and services and over on the French side cheap great wines and food. Lots of restaurants and a wonderful "au naturel" beach. But the crime situation in St Martin has been serious for close to a decade due to vast increases in illegal drug activity. Add in the unbelievable Dutch campaign to eliminate all visiting cruisers by sky rocketing fees and you can understand why the harbors are significantly more empty than years ago.
- - The BVI's are significantly safer but significantly lacking in "cruiser" related attractions like restaurants and infrastructure. The infrastructure is aimed directly at the visiting charter boater - which is fine and sure makes them a lot of money. But for a cruiser on his own vessel, there are only the great anchorages and small little bays we like that charterers don't go to. And there are plenty of those, so we both win.
- - The BVI's also have the option of going over to the US islands and Puerto Rico for serious cruiser shopping and US related boat parts suppliers.
- - Two out the last four times in the past two we passed St Martin we did not stop but went straight on to the BVI's.
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Old 15-12-2010, 12:26   #10
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I chartered about seven times in the BVIs over 25 years. Its easy sailing, very crowded in season, and if you don't get on a mooring by 3PM you are out of luck. There are lots of bars and food places at nearly every anchorage. Having said that, I now live in Sint Maarten. We keep our boat at Captain Oliver's where Sunsail and the Moorrings are based. The sailing is more difficult and the sea can be rough oon the North and East side of the island. On a one week charter you will be limited to Sint Maarten, St. Martin (French), Angulla, and St Barts + a few smaller islands. Shopping is a plus - duty free, and every type of boat service is available.
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Old 15-12-2010, 12:43   #11
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If you like to sail, and can do a 10 day or two week charter, you can visit any or perhaps all of the islands of St. Martin/Maarten, St Barth, Nevis, St Kitts, Statia, and Saba. Open water sailing is fun change of pace to the 1-3 hr hops in the BVI, and each of these islands has a different character.
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Old 15-12-2010, 12:54   #12
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We are in the States right now visiting family. We have been living on our boat in the BVI for 6 months and will be returning in two weeks. We spent most of our time in the BVI, but often went to the USVI to provision and just "get away." The BVI has much better diving, and is more geared towards boaters. It is hard to get a mooring ball after 2pm and the most popular bays and coves are packed with balls. You will have to go to other spots to find a good anchorage. The cost of living in the BVI is much higher than the U.S. We have not been down to the Leewards or Windwards yet, but are/were planning to go there in 2011. When we get back our plan is to spend more time in the USVI including St. Croix and go to Puerto Rico and the islands around there. Then we will head down to the Leewards and Windwards to get out of the hurricane box. This year we stayed in the BVI and holed up in Nanny Cay for Earl. Great choice. Full Moon had NO damage and we stayed in a hotel room next to the marina. August and September is great in the BVI. During Sept. many placed didn't charge for mooring balls. There were times when we were the only boat in the channel. We love the BVI, but are ready to move on to new places. It was a great place to get use to living on a sailboat. The people are very friendly. The BVI is mostly set up to cater to the charter crowd, but we enjoyed the charter people. I belive that if you are friendly, laid back, and non-judgemental, you will find them interesting and entertaining. Again, the BVI is not cheap for the cruiser.
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Old 15-12-2010, 14:36   #13
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The fees on the Dutch side of Sint Maarten have been reduced - maybe too late.There was no Charter Boat Show in the Lagoon this Fall and the Dutch side in the Lagoon is fairly empty compared to the French side.
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Old 15-12-2010, 15:18   #14
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[QUOTE=John A;578394]Sailing was a drag race from mooring field to mooring field and you had to be at the next mooring field by 2pm or you were way to hell and gone from shore. Because they were on vacation they didn't mind paying inflated prices for everything. $30 a night mooring fees would destroy my budget! Foxy is over 75 and smoking all his life hase destroyed his singing voice so that's just a T-shirt stop.
QUOTE]

It is true that the mooring fields fill up early during the season but I've never paid $30 for a mooring.

I heard Foxy sing this year and his voice was fine. Although, I have not known him for long I know that he does not like smoking.

Maje
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Old 15-12-2010, 15:19   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by speciald@ocens. View Post
The fees on the Dutch side of Sint Maarten have been reduced - maybe too late.There was no Charter Boat Show in the Lagoon this Fall and the Dutch side in the Lagoon is fairly empty compared to the French side.
LOL... not surprised... its only a 10min dinghy ride over and no aircraft to put up with either...
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