I asked many questions here while planning this trip, so I thought I'd share my trip report:
St. Martin Bareboat
Sailing Trip – May 13th thru May 25th on a Moorings 4300 Catamaran
After many bareboat
trips to BVI, we decided to get a little more adventurous. We are 4 couples and various pairs have travelled together frequently. All had uneventful AA flights from RDU – arrived on time to SXM at various times.
Various couples arrived over a couple of days. One couple stayed at Captian Olivers for 2 days – great room/service/location.
My husband & I and another couple were taken care of by Maryse from Coralita Apts for the day before and after the charter
. She arranged for Lucky's car rental to met us at the airport
with a car that we would be able to leave at Capt. Olivers the following day. Great service! Loved the little apartment – Maryse was fantastic.
First night dinner was at the Dinghy Dock
– true to all reports – happy hour was pour your own, dinner was reasonable and quite good.
Great night's sleep, watched the sunrise beside the pool at Coralita Apts. Had a fresh croissant and jam at La Fregate for breakfast. The girls were on to Grand Marche for the marathon provisioning
trip....$500 US for lots 10 days worth of food/beer/water/beer/water/beer....great fun looking at all the different foods. Got lots of interesting items – caviar, French cream cheese, Gouda, pates, wonderful juices, etc. The boys were back at Moorings for the boat/chart briefing. We spent the next few hours getting everything neatly stowed and everything unpacked.
Lucky's picked up the rental car at Capt. Oliver's, so we didn't have to drive it back to the airport
. Great service!
By nightfall, we were all too tired to go anywhere else – so it was another dinner at the Dinghy Dock
Day 1 - Up early getting ready to sail out – destination
St. Barts. Winds and waves were true to the forecast
- pretty high. The Moorings staff piloted the boat out of the slip – handed it over to us to motor
out of Oyster
Pond following a chase boat. A good precaution on their part as it is a bit of a tricky channel. Luckily, we started with 2 reefs
in the main. Pulled out the foresail and we were in for a pretty wild ride in 20+ knot
winds and 10' seas. Nothing the big boat couldn't handle, but a few of the crew were a little green for a while. Made good time to Ile Fourchue. Anchored in the calm bay and had a nice lunch on board. Several of us snorkeled to shore and wandered around. Pretty scenery and a welcome break. The snorkeling was nothing special.
Back to the boat for another sail on to St. Barts. Anchored near Gustavia. We took the dinghy off the davits
for the first time and the captain
took our documents to customs
to clear in. He forgot that they told him either credit card or Euros would be the only thing accepted for the fees
, so he had to dinghy back to the boat to get a credit card (he had taken US $ only).
Unfortunately, the dinghy motor
died and refused to start again. Luckily, he was very near another anchored boat that was occupied. A nice fellow jumped in his dinghy and towed our Captain
back to us so that we could regroup. After some adjustments, the motor started again and off he went to customs
. Success at customs this time, but the motor died again on the way back!! This time, a nice fellow on a jet-ski towed him back to us. So there we were, in beautiful St. Barts with no way to get 8 people to their first adventure of the trip!! I used my 4 year old basic Verizon phone
to call the Moorings base for assistance. They were terrific – had a mechanic
there on St. Barts to our boat in less than 15 minutes. He took the motor apart, did some adjustments and had us running in another 30 minutes. Whatever he did worked as we had no further problems with the dinghy!
On shore, we found Le Select and had a few beers. A few in our group wanted to eat there for the evening, but the consensus was to have a nice, French meal. We wandered around and found The Wall – and had a wonderful meal. The anchorage was a little rolly – much more so for the monohulls we could see swaying to and fro.
Day 2 - Next morning we were up early for the long sail to Nevis
. Winds were still moderately high and waves forcast to be 10'. It was a pretty uncomfortable ride, mainly because it was so long. Several got pretty “green”....about halfway there our fisherman caught a gorgeous MahiMahi. In pitching seas, he sliced two huge fillets without hurting anyone!
We picked up a mooring
ball in front of the Double Duce and settled in for a nice, quiet evening. The MahiMahi was grilled to perfection – and was a lot more than the 8 people could eat!
is just half of the fish!!
Let me preface the following by saying that we loved Nevis
. We did not love Nevis customs procedure!
Day 3 - The following morning, we moved over to a Q ball and headed in to customs. This was the worst customs experience of the trip. It is a 4 part process. First is customs – any taxi driver on the main dock will point the way. Three guys are sitting in a nicely air conditioned little office. The first computer would not work. The second one did work – until the officer apparently hit the final “return” button – then the computer froze....much discussion ensued about this lockup. Phone
calls were made. We feared that all the tedious typing was for naught. 15 minutes later the computer came back to life and amazingly, the data was still there. Copies were rendered and we were given documents to take to Immigration (several blocks away at the Police Station). Unfortunately, we were in line behind a fellow with a terribly complicated scenario at the immigration office and there was only one officer.
So, we waited in the hall for another 45 minutes. Immigration went smoothly for us – although I never could tell what all the typing was for!! Next was back to the main dock for the Port Authority. Nice fellow – fees
were paid, another document rendered. Next back to the Customs office one last time. 2 ½ hours later, we were finished clearing into the Federation of Nevis and St. Kitts!
Back to the boat, we motored up to Oualie Beach for the rest of the day. Had a wonderful lunch at the Oualie Beach Restaurant. Great drinks – first of many BBC's. This was a new drink to us. Bailey's Banana & Coconut, if I remember correctly. The plan was to do some hiking because the map we got at Customs showed hiking trails nearby. Everyone we asked sortof looked at us like we were crazy – there apparently aren't any real trails. While standing near the road, one of our group flagged down a taxi-van. It was none other than “Teach” that I had read about somewhere else. He offered to take our group on an around-the-island tour which we gladly accepted. He was a fantastic tour guide – obviously knew a tremendous amount about the island. He took us thru the plantations – was very patient with us and allowed us to get out and take good looks at all the areas we wanted. I think the entire trip cost about $60 for the eight of us and was several hours long. A great deal!
Back to the boat for hamburgers on the grill
and a quiet evening.
Day 4 – Up early for the beautiful sunrise.
Nice sail north to Basseterre, St. Kitts.
No customs required because we were already cleared in from Nevis. We decided to treat ourselves to the marina for a couple of days so that the couples could come and go easily from the boat without having to use the dinghy. The dockmaster – Truckie – and his staff welcomed us nicely. They had good restrooms and showers on shore – for some reason you had to pay $1 per day for the priviledge....and you had to get a key each time from the guard shack. A little annoying- but tolerable. Everyone was particularly friendly here. We had lunch at Ballahoos – good food
– reasonable too. Wandered around the town on foot for a few hours.
Made arrangments with “Junie” for another van trip around the island for the following morning. Had dinner at the Circus Grill
. This was a little dissapointing – really not very good. The walk back to the boat after dark was alittle unsafe feeling – almost no one around, but our group of eight seemed big enough. Security
at the marina was 24/7.
Day 5 - Next day we had our tour of the island with Junie. Visited the fort at Brimstone Hill, the Black Rocks, etc.
The group decided to forgo the expensive lunch at one of the Planations that Junie wanted us to do – and opted for a beach bar lunch at Frigate Bay. Enjoyed this, but we were all a little tired of the van tour idea at this point. Back to Basseterre – did a little shopping
at the deserted cruise ship
area for t-shirts. Two couples had dinner at Ballahoos and the other two couples went to the Indian Restaurant in the cruise ship
area. We enjoyed the friendly people at St. Kitts, but the marina area had a strange over-built sensation. I'm sure on Friday (the only day a cruise
ship comes) it is teaming with activity. Hard to imagine it is sustainable for only one day per week.
Day 6 - The next day we did an easy clearance out of St. Kitts, took just minutes at the cruise
ship dock. We paid our bill at the marina - $122 for two nights dockage, electricity, and 4 bags of ice. What a deal! Their rates are $0.75/ft per night for monohulls, $1.20 for catamarans. Off to St. Eustatius!
was waining thru the week – and our sail to Statia was very pleasant. Customs at Statia was very efficient and took only a few minutes. You cleared in and out in one step so that no second visit was required. Several of us snorkeled off the boat – pleasant, again, but not spectacular. The anchorage was a bit rolly, but the catamaran
made it bearable. We had dinner on the beach level – no one was energetic enough to climb the cliff into town!! The Blue Bead Restaurant was good – everyone had pasta or pizza. One of the group wanted to dive, so he made some arrangements for the next morning.
Day 7 - Up early for our planned hike to the top of Quill – the volcano overlooking Oranjestad.
We bought our $6 passes at the Nauture Center and started up the cliff, thru the town and all the way to the top. It took about 2 hours of some pretty difficult climbing, but it was worth it! Beautiful views and the dense foliage all around were very interesting.
Of course, the walk back to town was easy by comparison.
We were all covered with sweat and beers and burgers at the “Super Burger” were a welcome relief. Inexpensive and really good air conditioning! The person who did the diving
reported a wonderful dive – one of the best he'd been on. Had a great spaghetti dinner on board.
Day 8 – Motor/sailed to Anguilla
. Some exciting sailing for a few hours, but the wind
died and the last few hours were mostly motoring. What a beautiful island! Customs easy and quick.
One of the couples wanted to go to Blanchards (we had read their book) so they made arrangements for a taxi. The rest of us spent some good, quality time at Elvis's. Had fresh snapper sandwiches that were fabulous! Would have liked the music
to have been turned down a notch, but that's just showing my age, I suppose!
Day 9 - Running out of time!! Did not get to visit Prickly Pear as we'd planned. Will have to save that for next time. On to Marigot – it was a Sunday and we knew that customs would be closed. Tried to find someone to check and pay the $20 overtime fee...but this was not to be. Apparently, the French side of St. Martin just isn't very concerned about checking in/out. We called Moorings just to make sure. Wandered around Marigot for a while – half of us were pulled into Sandra's and half were pulled into Rosemary's for lunch. I didn't realize it was two restaurants! We sat at side-by side tables and had one of the best meals
of the trip! I was continually surprized by the value of meals
Back to the boat for a quick trip up to Grand Case. I'm glad we saved this part until last – it would have been easy just to lime the 10 days away and we would have never seen the islands to the south! Went to Calmos Bar for a little internet
and the best BBC of the trip. Did some sea glass hunting in the surf – loads of the stuff! Back to the boat for showers. Wandered down the road in Grand Case looking for a place to eat dinner....wow, what a variety! Decided to do the cheap route
and went back to the Sky is the Limit. Again, an incredibly inexpensive and good meal. One dollar beers, more than you could possibly eat for about $8. What a deal! Wandered back down the beach – saw the candlelight diners in the sand at Calmos and made a mental note to do that someday.
Day 10 - I can't believe it's almost over! A quick motor/sail around to Oyster
Pond. We called Moorings ½ hour out. They asked us if we would be able to come inside on our own – no problem. The channel is not so bad once you've been thru it. I can see that in really high seas, it would be scary!
Cleanup and packup was easy. The checkout with Moorings was a breeze.
Posed for one last group photo
before leaving the boat!
Lucky's car rental delivered our car to Capt. Olivers and left the key at the desk, so we took the short drive back to our Coralita Apartments bungalow. Maryse was there and completed the paperwork for Lucky's. Almost too easy!! The little apartments cost about $60 US per night – and the rental car was $35 per day (we got a large car both days because we had a lot of luggage for 4 people!) Just relaxed for a while – then took a drive all the way around the island just for fun and to see a little more of the country side. Had a terrific dinner at BZH Creperie. Yummy smoked salmon and cream sauce.
Final day – always sad to end a spectacular vacation! Our return flights were at 3:20PM, so we had a lot of time – returned the car to the parking lot at the airport. Checked our bags in with American – this took all of 3 minutes! Sat down in the little food
court area for a while with our group and had a few last beers and some snacks. The flights home were completely uneventful – landed RDU and were home by 1:30AM. A great time – now to start planning the return trip!!