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Old 24-05-2014, 16:44   #1
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Exploring St. Martin

As mentioned in a previous post I'm planning an overnight sail to St. Martin from the B.V.I. in June/July. Can anyone suggest an itinerary based on where I need to clear in and out of customs/immigrations? I'm interested in visiting Oyster Pond, Orient Bay and Grand Case. Should I go around South or North?

Thanks in advance for any advice anyone can give!

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Old 24-05-2014, 19:11   #2
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Re: Exploring St. Martin

Oyster Pond - Not sure what the attraction would be there but BE VERY CAREFUL especially if the wind is up with matching onshore seas. The entrance is not well marked (unless changed in last few years), NOT straight as it might appear.

It's full of charter boats (Moorings/Sunsail base). They provide guidance to their boats going in & out.

Ile Pinel would be a better alternative on that side........just watch depths & anchoring rules.

Orient Bay - wide open, a little deceptive - follow entrance instructions in cruising guide not that many protected places to anchor especially when wind/waves are up. Watch out if you decide to take dinghy into beach......waves/beach angle

Grand Case - definitely worth the visit - can get rolly at times

Sure many others will give more recent info.

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Old 25-05-2014, 06:01   #3
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Re: Exploring St. Martin

What a fun trip for you!

You can clear in and out in Marigot Bay. It's also one of our favorite places to be near a city here, for swimming off the boat in crystal clear water and the pastries and sandwiches ashore.

We also like Grand Case, for the food. The barbecue places are so good. The dock is a bit dicey -- we saw inflatables underneath the concrete dock, so I tried to rescue them as best as I could and then set an anchor to keep ours from doing that. Then a local boat came alongside the dock by pushing into the crowd of inflatables, dragged our anchor, pushed ours (and a few others) underneath to scrape on the underside of the concrete with each wave -- so that's why so many inflatables were underneath the dock when we arrived. Sometimes I wish I spoke enough French to yell at people like that. Now our new outboard looks like someone took a grinder to it, though maybe that's better. So we landed on the beach after that.

We like the Southern part of Orient Bay. We liked the open and friendly atmosphere and the plentiful and reasonably priced food and beach chairs. The beach was too crowded during the day to land the dinghy, so we anchored it and waded ashore. In some parts of the weather cycle there was a 1-2' chop coming over the reef, but it was aligned with the wind and made us pitch, rather than roll, which isn't as annoying.

Ilet Pinel was more calm, but the food and beach chair rentals are twice as much. Though, the floating ice cream and beer truck kind of makes up for that.

Reading this, it looks like all I am concerned about is dinghy parking and food. That's sometimes what my wife asks about cruising -- sure it's fun, but shouldn't we be doing more with our lives?
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Old 25-05-2014, 06:49   #4
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Re: Exploring St. Martin

Originally Posted by Chuteman View Post
Oyster Pond - Not sure what the attraction would be there but BE VERY CAREFUL especially if the wind is up with matching onshore seas. The entrance is not well marked (unless changed in last few years), NOT straight as it might appear.
I agree with this totally. You need local knowledge to get in there. Its very tricky. To lose the boat on the rocks for Capt Olivers is pretty crackers unless you really need to go in to see Sunsail et al. And if you do, get them to explain the enterence carefully.

Last time I went in you needed to be within 10 meters of the red marks... But that could well have changed.
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Old 25-05-2014, 06:52   #5
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Re: Exploring St. Martin

I like the French side of St. Martin; I anchor in Grand Case and it only gets rolly in a north swell. Marigot is O.K. as well, but somehow the fees they charge to anchor there put me off. Ile Tintamarre is a nice day stop, and I've remained there overnight several times as well, but this is best done with no northerly swell component. Oyster Pond, as mentioned in previous posts, can be a tough entrance and there's little room inside for non-charter boats. You can also try the anchorage at Anse Marcel or enter their dock area (it is a narrow entrance, but protected inside). I've only seen Ile Pinel from a distance, as my boat draws 2.8 meters

Since I always have to provision when I arrive in St. Martin, what I do is sail from the BVI straight to Grand Case, overnight, then rent a car the next morning to clear in at Port Royal for 5 Euros and then do my chandlery and shopping. It ends up being cheaper overall and more convenient than going to Marigot and clearing in at the Ferry Dock, where they want 30 or more Euros for me and my boat!

The Grand Case concrete dinghy dock is truly a dinghy killer. This is the one place that I will always use my stern anchor. And on Tuesdays during season, when they have the street festival, I'll always use that anchor on the windward side since the downwind side gets very crowded with dinghys and even with a stern anchor you can get pushed under.
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