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Old 28-01-2015, 12:42   #1
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Sailing in St Maarten/Anguilla

We want to venture outside the BVIs. Looks like beautiful anchorages around St. Maarten but may be crowded? Is this island more for cruise ships than sailors? And how does the customs work since it's half French and half Dutch -- do you have to clear in and out every time you cross the boundary? Suggested itineraries? Worth the time to get over to Anguilla? Advice on where to charter -- we have had good boats and service from Horizon Yacht Club in BVI but their St Maarten office is closing end of this month.

Any and all input appreciated.
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Old 28-01-2015, 14:14   #2
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Re: Sailing in St Maarten/Anguilla

Yes, in a charter boat you do have to clear in and out of customs on both sides (although not in an inflatable or a car). At least the French customs is done by yourself on a computer terminal so it is very straightforward. Typically decent winds there so yes, there is good sailing including a nice, usually upwind sail to St. Barth's (which is French and hence, does not require another check-in if you have departed the French side of St. Martin). Anguilla is also worth doing but as it is British, it does require another check-in and out.

As to an itinerary, you could do all three islands in one week in normal conditions. I would suggest that you pick up Chris Doyle's guide to the Leeward Islands as it will help you decide if the anchorages, beaches and sights (and dining) ashore interest you. It would also help you create your own itinerary.

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Old 28-01-2015, 14:42   #3
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Re: Sailing in St Maarten/Anguilla

Anguilla definitely worth cruising, but the cruising permit, necessary for anywhere but Road Bay, is about $150/day.

Customs is not a big hassle in St Maarten, just plan your itinerary to minimize in/outs. Anchored off Marigot or Simpson Bay you can dinghy through the lagoon to the other side and not need to clear in/out.

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Old 28-01-2015, 14:55   #4
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Re: Sailing in St Maarten/Anguilla

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Originally Posted by accomplice View Post
Anguilla definitely worth cruising, but the cruising permit, necessary for anywhere but Road Harbor, is about $150/day.
Actually, it's Road Bay, but the message is correct - Anguilla is not worth the cost in my view. We visited twice in spring 2014: once staying only in Road Bay (the cheapest) and again with guests who joined us in SXM when we could share the full cost for a cruising permit which allows you to anchor in other places besides Road Bay. Bottom line - not worth it.

A much better destination reasonably accomplished from SXM is Saba. But the weather has to be settled. Saba is truly one of the more precious gems of the E Carib. But it is not visited much by cruisers because it isn't easy and there are no beaches, thus no beach bars. But you will be glad you tried....

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Old 28-01-2015, 17:39   #5
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Re: Sailing in St Maarten/Anguilla

Road Bay os a lovely little village though.
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Old 28-01-2015, 19:11   #6
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Re: Sailing in St Maarten/Anguilla

I completely agree with Dave. Wife and I spent ten days in SXM and Anguilla during December of 2012. We loved SXM, but found Anguilla underwhelming.
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Old 28-01-2015, 19:32   #7
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Re: Sailing in St Maarten/Anguilla

When we were in Anguilla last month, it was great. Outside of Road Bay we were either the only, or one of two boats at every anchorage. Snorkeling in Little Bay was lovely -- either the manta ray below or the multi-colored cliffs above. When we anchored off the southwest of Prickly Pear, we were the only boat in sight and spent the afternoon in a beautiful spot. One of my crew announced it was the best day of his life as he dove off the bow pulpit.

The snorkeling off Seal Island reef was better, but there was no land around and two of the crew preferred to stay on the boat rather than venture into the open water.
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Old 28-01-2015, 20:33   #8
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Great to hear is is a good overall destination. Will check into the Leeward Islands guide. Sounds like Anguilla is less crowded -- any input as to wnchorages around /
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Old 28-01-2015, 20:36   #9
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Oops premature send. Wondering about anchorages around St Maarten, best and to avoid. Any ideas on where to charter, Simpson Bay looks like the spot.

THANKS!!!
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Old 29-01-2015, 08:07   #10
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Re: Sailing in St Maarten/Anguilla

Actually, there are no charter bases on Simpson Bay. Perhaps you meant Simpson Lagoon, which has at least one over near Port Royale on the French side - Dream Yachts, I believe. But both Sunsail and Moorings (the same company now) have bases in Oyster Pond. When you first motor out of Oyster Pond you will immediately realize you're not in the BVIs anymore.

If your prior charter experiences have all been in the BVI, you will probably find St. Martin/Maarten and vicinity to have fewer anchorages over all to choose from and these are generally more exposed to weather and sea state effects. But there's plenty to fill up a charter. If you're used to picking up a ball right off the beach from a beach bar, you will not find as many, as while there are ample and better bars and restaurants than in the BVI, you will get lots more practice anchoring.

All the major charter web sites have lots of info on where to sail.

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Old 29-01-2015, 09:05   #11
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Re: Sailing in St Maarten/Anguilla

We chartered a Moorings monohull, 36' or 37' about five years ago. I do not remember paying $150 for a permit to cruise Anguilla, but it might have been included in the charter invoice. We found a number of small, welcoming restaurants on the beach at the harbor, and one true beach bar, located off the island literally on a sand bar, and called "the Sand Bar" - worth a visit.

On French St. Martin, don't miss Il de Pinel, a tiny island on to the east of the main island. Uninhabited by night, in the morning a caravan of small boats supply the lunch spots and run the umbrella/lounge chair concession. The food was good, easy swimming beach, and topless sun bathing.

This small island is a preserve with walking trails and wonderful views; great for photography.
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Old 29-01-2015, 09:18   #12
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pirate Re: Sailing in St Maarten/Anguilla

Anguilla was my favorite stop. Fodor's in focus for the area is a good reference too. Checking in and out was a breeze. Fly your quarantine flag and send one person up with the passports. Sandy Island is a fun stop - one of a kind. You can have Gustavia unless you like to shop and shop and shop. The anchorage was VERY roly. Anse a Colombier is beautiful and very quiet when we were there (April). Grand Case was a blast. We did it at the end of the week and enjoyed the massive BBQ area and then a small restaurant that used to be boat (can't remember the name but a few blocks in). We sailed out of Oyster with Sunsail and they did a great job. Boat was awesome. Don't worry about the $150.00. Go see the area if you are there. No regrets!
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Old 29-01-2015, 09:37   #13
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Re: Sailing in St Maarten/Anguilla

I did find some of the anchorages on the north of St. Martin rolly -- particularly Gran Cas (great restaurants) and Anse Marcel (not much there). The wind generally blows out of the ENE, but the rollers come across the fetch from the north. I found it helped to put out bow and stern anchors to hold the boat pointing to the north -- this way the motion was far more comfortable.

On Anguilla, there was decent food (a pig roast) and live music in Road Bay (the Firehouse), good beach bars (Elvis's) but the best restaurant we found was DaVida in Crocus Bay. Since cruising permits run midnight-midnight, we anchored in Crocus Bay after a day in the National Parks to have dinner at DaVida, then had a short sail back to Road Bay before midnight.
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Old 29-01-2015, 09:52   #14
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Re: Sailing in St Maarten/Anguilla

I've chartered /trade time, there are few times. Check with them about where you are allowed and not allowed to anchor. Sadly last time I chartered there with the Moorings, they made a few of the more isolated anchorages off limits. It's one of the reasons I stopped going there.
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Old 29-01-2015, 11:28   #15
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Re: Sailing in St Maarten/Anguilla

I have to ask...what/where is SXM

Is it a smarta.. short for St. Marten?
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