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Old 04-11-2006, 14:45   #1
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caribbean advice

hi, i am crossing the atlantic in december 2006 and am still trying to decide where to leave my boat for a few months when i arrive while i head back to work..since it will not be hurricane season i have a few options, at this stage I am tossing up between Grenada and Saint Maarten.....but am open to advice

1. do i have to book a marina ahead of time this early in the season?

2. i am swaying towards grenada because of the costs... i have a 42ft monohull and grenada is quoting around 500/month while Saint Maarten is closer to 800/month. Does anyone recommend anywhere else. But take into account I will leave the boat unattended and need good security..

3. Can you move easily north or south in the islands or is one direction better than the other.. i am guessing with the trade winds running east to west than both ways are the same???

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Old 04-11-2006, 15:44   #2
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You might check out Rodney Bay, St Lucia. It's one of the largest in the windward Islands located on the northern end of the island with a 26 nm shot north to Martinique. To the south would be St Vincent and the Grenadines. You would want to spend a long time there.

With trades the northern route is tougher than the southern. The winds between the windward islands is often quite strong. Great big air sailing often.

I would check air fares as they may be more expensive than slips. Also check schedules as well. There are non stops to St Lucia from Philly and I think Manchester and Gatwick. It's a small plane from there to Grenada or Martinique. My wife and I go to St Lucia every year for 2 weeks. If you intend to fly on weekends in the winter it's best to arrange plane tickets in advance.
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Old 04-11-2006, 17:24   #3
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Rodney Bay, St Lucia is a well protected marine as is Bas Du Fort in Guadaloupe.

Sailing up and down the Eastern Carib is usually a reach and a joy to sail... do it as much as you can... It doesn't get much better!

You might want to consider Antigua and leave the boat anchored in English Harbor (well inside).. or tied to the mangroves. I am sure you can hire someone for a reasonable fee to check on your boat regularly... which is a lot better than leaving a boat completely unattended and locked on a dock where it could be an easy target for vandalism etc. If you do the dock thing, you have Falmouth and also Jolly Harbor.

St Maarten Lagoon and Philipsburg both have marinas on the Dutch side as well as some on the French side. There seems to be a lot of crime in St Maarten and no one seems to be watching...

I would only leave my boat where I know someone is watching the boat SERIOUSLY... checking the lines for chafe etc and the bilges... as well as making sure that the batts are topped up. If you can hook that up you would be a head of the game and sleep a lot better. I think your best shot for this is Antigua as there are many live aboards who work there and might take this on for some extra income. I might be able to give you a name.

Another option is to try to work something out with one of the charter operators for some sort of fee to check on the boat.

I would not leave a boat unattended for two months... anywhere.

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Old 04-11-2006, 17:59   #4
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When we were at Marina Hemingway in Cuba last winter quite a few sailors left there boats there unattended. One from Germany left there boat at least a month, maybe it was two. Marina Hemingway has very good security with security guards walking the docks 24 hours a day. The price is fairly cheap to.
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Old 05-11-2006, 01:24   #5
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Security guards may offer protection against vandalism, but what about chafe on dock lines and rising water in a bilge from a failed pump?

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Old 05-11-2006, 04:07   #6
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hi jef

thanks for info, i think a friend that is crossing the atlantic with me may stay aboard a while and i will take a look at the situation when i arrive to have someone check on it for me when he leaves if the marina staff themselve dont convince me they will do the job.. i am still undecided and have to make a decision soon... do you think i really need to book and pay in advance to secure a marina or could i just come and take a better look when i arrive....i am waiting on a quote from jolly marina... but antigua still looks expensive to me... you would have to convince me some more as too why anchoring in the lagoon would be a better option unnatended.. i never thought of st lucia as i believed it would be full from ARC... the website looks good and so do their rates... less than 400 dollars/ month for my boat... and seems like they also have some sort of good security and are on top of things....ok thanks for peoples advice and anymore is welcomed

thanks steve
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Old 05-11-2006, 04:50   #7
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Originally Posted by mamalu
... you would have to convince me some more as too why anchoring in the lagoon would be a better option unattended ...
Anchored/moored boats often fair better (than those docked) against heavy weather, due to the absence of proximate unyielding obstructions (the docks & pilings to which others are fixed).
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Old 05-11-2006, 04:56   #8
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Do the bookings require a non refundable deposit? If not then by all means book some place and perhaps sail to another location of interest first and see how that suits you.

The Lagoon in St Maarten can have a long fetch and this means that it can develop some nasty wave action. I know when the hurricane came through there is was a mess.

I am a bit partial to EH Antigua back in the Dockyard for many reasons. It is small enough and very protected, so much so that several boats are left anchored and tied to the mangroves. There are so many facilities a short dink ride away.. including the police station! EH has many full time live aboards on anchor and I think this provides safety as they tend to be very observant about that is going on about them. The holding is awesome too up in there. You certainly can avoid all the dockage fees and pay someone a reasonable amount to really attend to your boat in your absence... not some guards who are only trying to keep unsavory characters off the docks.

Jolly Harbor is not a fav place of mine.. as I prefer the more historical and extremely beautiful and friendly EH. There is nothing like that place the world over.

Rodney Bay is a friendly place, though I don't know how good the security is there and again the same issues apply about someone checking your lines and bilges no matter where you leave the boat. I do know that there are many young kids that are going out to every boat that anchors in the outer harbor and these kids can be either friendly or aggressive... so take that into account. Here is a good view of EH...

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Old 05-11-2006, 06:58   #9
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You might want to consider hauling and leaving on the hard. Storage is much cheaper. Friends that left their boat in the water in Trinidad (during rainy/hot season) came back to a mold garden inside.

If you decide to haul and want to try Grenada, you might want to think about Grenada Marine in St. David's Bay. It is way out in the countryside. There are no stores, only a boat yard with a bar/restaurant. Friends hauled there and found the prices to be good, the service reasonably good, and the security excellent. I would not recommend it for leaving boat in water, but if you haul, it may be a very good option.

Jim on "Chez Freddy" currently at St. David's Bay
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Old 05-11-2006, 07:38   #10
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I agree with the haul-out option - and you can then do a bottom paint, through-hull and zinc check when you return to put her back in the water.

I do Guardiennage services in Tortola, BVI and subject to availability of dock, can offer this at US$500/month. Tony
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Old 12-11-2006, 08:43   #11
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My two cents worth, having left my boat for 3-4 mos at a time many, many times up and down the Caribbean:

Leaving on the hook is safer than in a marina, as well as far cheaper. Marinas are easy pickings for low-lifes; you have to be more organized to steal from a boat afloat. I've never had any problems with theft at anchor. I lock up the obvious things (dinghy and outboard). I've always had someone there look after her; either a liveaboard I've made friends with and trust, or a professional caretaker company.

The two you mention plus Rodney Bay are the most typical destinations for Atlantic crossers. (Off topic hint: If you ever want to see Barbados, do it as your first stop because it is hard to get to from the Windwards.)

My favorite places to leave a boat have been the south coast of Grenada and Simpson's Lagoon on Sint Maarten. Both are perfectly safe and secure.

Simpson's Lagoon: it's not hurricane season, and I've spent months afloat there while refitting and never seen any conditions I worried about. Anchor just over the line on the French side up near the Witches Tit. Keep to the French side or the Dutch will try to make you pay a fee for anchoring. Buddy up to some of the hundreds of liveaboards in the Lagoon and you'll soon find someone to caretake your boat.

It is definitely the #1 place in the Caribbean for kit. You can't beat the prices or selection at Budget Marine and Island Water World, not even in the States. If you need any professional repair work, FKG rigging is pricey but very competent, and Maintec, next door, can't be beat for friendly, competent wood or glass work (tell Roger I said Hi). It is easy to fly from there to anywhere, and there are no customs fees.

Grenada: I prefer Hog Island and have spent two hurricane seasons on the hook there, however for boat-watching go next door to Mount Hartman Bay. There is an excellent husband-and-wife team there who will watch your boat, air it out each week, check the hawse, etc: contact Mark Sutton at They did a great job for us.

If you really want a marina, check out Clarkes Court Bay. They are very out-of-the-way and safe, and when I was last there there were liveaboards on the docks who made sure it was very secure.
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