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Old 20-08-2010, 10:48   #1
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Help with Cruising the Leeward Islands

Hi to all, some friends and I have chartered a 50' catamaran out of St Maarten for mid-November, 2010. We are planning to sail southward to Guadeloupe and back in 10 days. Does anyone have any thoughts on the best route to take given the prevailing winds that time of year. We would like to do a circle, including Antigua, rather than just out and back by the same route. Thanks, in advance, for any tips or advice on what not to miss and what to avoid as well as the preferred routing.

Fairwinds to all, luv2
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Old 20-08-2010, 11:38   #2
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St Maarten to Guadeoupe is a little bit of a hike, but very do-able in a 50' cat in 10 days. We chartered out of St Maarten a couple of Novembers ago and it was fabulous. One of our favorite places was a small island to the southeast, Ill Fourchure. There's also a nice anchorage on the northwest end of St. Barts that has a great walking path over to the private beaches.

Another anchorage we liked is Grand Case on the northwest side of St. Maarten. Nice snorkling near the rocks of the entrance.

Have fun.
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Old 21-08-2010, 05:46   #3
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It'll likely be a long day of beating closehauled into the Trades to get to Antigua, so if you're determined to do it, I'd suggest leaving from St Barth to get the best possible angle on the wind. The passage from St Barth to Jolly Harbour, Antigua, where you can clear in, is a little over 70 nm. Leaving from St Barth means you can take advantage of dennisjay's suggested stops as you come east from St Maarten: Ile Forchue and Anse de Colombier. Antigua to Guadeloupe should be a nice sail, as well as the broad reach back to St Maarten. Nevis and Saba could be nice stops on the return, if you have time.

Where do you plan to go in Guadeloupe? It's a big island!
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Old 21-08-2010, 06:18   #4
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Why Guadeloupe? The Saints just south of there are nicer. The passage around the south of Guadeloupe has been very rough everytime I've done it. It would be alot of sailing for a 10 day trip. I would follow the suggestions above - Sail down to Antigua, its worth a few days time. See the Nelson's old boatyard, be sure to see the anchorages on the north east side of the island. Sail back through Nevis, St Kitts, etc. Spend at least two days in St Barth's. 10 days will go fast - you loose one the begiing and end of your charter as they are short days. I live in Sint Maarten during the winter, my boat is in Oyster Pond where the Moorings and Sunsail are based. Should be there by then; look for Special Delivery.
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Old 21-08-2010, 09:50   #5
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I'd head South via Saba (diving, lace, the road that couldn't be built), St. Kitts (Brimstone Hill Fort), Montserrat (for the volcano), Guadeloupe, then The Saints (I really liked Marie-Galante).

Heading North I'd consider riding the Atlantic side of the islands and visit Antigua, Barbuda, and St. Barths before heading back to St. Martin.
Capt. Douglas Abbott
USCG/MCA IV/M.I./C.I. 500-ton Oceans
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Old 21-08-2010, 11:11   #6
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Awesome tips!

Thanks for all the help. This is exaclty what I need. I am really hoping people could weigh in on whether is will be better to go south from St Maarten via the "inside" passage stopping in St Kitts, Mostserrat and then on to Guadeloupe. From there we would return on the Atlantic side going north to Antigua, Barbuda, St Barth, and then back to St Maarten. Or would it be better to do the reverse and go to St Barth, Barbuda, Antigua etc. first and return via the "inside" passage. Thanks for all the local knowledge. I really appreciate it.

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Old 21-08-2010, 11:23   #7
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The Open side of the Caribbean islands can be pretty nasty of the trades are blowing hard... Pretty much open Atlantic once you get out there.... vs the inside passage. I'd say have a look at the swell and wind forecasts on the day you want to go.... behind the islands are usually very smooth and comfortable, you're only exposed to the open ocean between the channels..... once you're on the eastern side.. and it has happened to me more than once... you might find it particularly nasty.It is hard on the wind if not upwind most of the time to Antigua, but once you get there further South to Guadeloupe is not so bad.... direct to Guadeloupe usually pretty tight on the wind.
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Old 21-08-2010, 13:16   #8
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Are you going for the sailing only? I ask because you will not get much beach time, diving time, relaxing time and sightseeing time. I would have looked at a one way. Check with your charter company and they may have a fleet at either Antigua or Guadeloupe. I did a charter where I started in Antigua and ended in St Martin. That would allow you to see all the islands you want and sail with the wind instead of beating half the time! just a thought
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