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Old 30-01-2010, 15:20   #1
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Leeward Islands?

I''m thinking of sailing in the St. Martin area next July. I've sailed in BVI's but would like to take it up one notch. Any suggestions regarding choice of bareboat companies, routes, air conditioning versus no air conditioning, or details on how much more difficult this will be would be exceedingly helpful. I'm an experienced sailor but I'll be taking two couples who are rookies and I'd like them to have a good experience.

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Old 30-01-2010, 16:30   #2
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All Depends

B- Might help if you add what You and your crew like / want to do - how long your charter will be, etc

In the meantime, I'll respond to the topics:
Bareboat Cos - in general less companies & much smaller fleets than BVI/USVI - but during July should not be a problem with availability.
Sunsail, Moorings, Horizon, Dream Yacht just to name the ones I'm familiar with

Routes? - sailing i'll guess - depending on your charter length - you have several - I would suggest checking out both the Sunsail & Moorings web sites as they offer basic Itineraries from their base - also suggest getting the Doyle Cruising Guide for the Leewards now to help your planning
Anegada, St. Barths and SXM itself offer a range of anchorages depending on your interests

A/C or not - a very personal choice for you and for your guests especially if they have not spent time on a sailboat. Certainly the fleets will have some. Is it hot, humid and rains more in July - you bet - but there's a breeze in most anchorages - I've never used it so I'm not a good judge

More Difficult - depends on what you mean - more open water.....yup some routes, more anchoring......yup, probably......more navigation......yup
One example - Oyster Pond channel entrance (Moorings & Sunsail base) on a breezy day with higher seas - absolutely........but follow the instructions from the staff and it will be fine but definitely not Road Town.
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Old 30-01-2010, 16:40   #3
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Yep, st martin is a bit of a step up from BVI - bit more serious sailing as there's no anegada reef to make it all flat as per bvi.

As far as I know, Moorings is the main base and they're in Olivers on the east side of the island. Doesn't seem a bad setup but getting i and out f the marina is the flakiest bit of an entire trip - narrow dogleg in out and mooring poles.

I would say that you don't need aircon. there are fewer mozzies so you can open the boat a bit more, usually.

You may want to see other islands, nearest are St Barths and Anquilla. asiest route would be to godirect to st barths, south from olivers, easier reach.

island halfway over erm, forgotten the name begine with F, Gustavia nice town, you can anchor tho it can be rolly, r take a mooring and that's quite rolly too. Le repaire is genuine french resto on the front, cheap lunch deals. Rent a jeep to whizz round the sland, 50-60 euros.

Then simpson bay area, then maigot bay and then north to Anguilla, super sandy beaches. Finally Orient Bay, and then back to Olivers
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Old 30-01-2010, 16:54   #4
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You might try the google search. We went there last year and chartered a cat with Horizon. I recall finding a lot of threads about the area. FWIW, Anguilla and St. Barths was the best part of our trip. I'd leave off a visit to Saba, we couldn't get into shore due to the huge wave surge.
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Old 30-01-2010, 17:09   #5
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Typing error
Routes section:
s/h/b Anguilla (not Anegada - lovely but much further away), St. Barths and SXM

But you knew that......

Island bet SXM & St. Barths = il Fourchue.......peaceful outpost,
Gustavia definitely rolly, quiet alternative but no services =Anse de Columbier
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Old 30-01-2010, 17:24   #6
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This is all very useful, so thanks
It's a seven day charter. And I think that it seems like a perfect location for our needs. Here's one question--i know that Sunsail and the Moorings have the same ownership. And I've used Moorings with great satisfaction. Sunsail is a bit less expensive, and so my question is whether its customer service is as good. (I had a small engine problem once with Moorings and it responded quite well). And, are you familiar with Edward Hamilton?
Here's one more. Is the degree of difficulty so much greater that I need to be concerned? Here's my sailing experience. First, 4 decades of small boat sailing. Here's my big boat sailing in the last five years: bareboating a Cat in the BVIS, where I skippered and no one else knew how to sail; skippering a 42' Grand Banks in San Juans and over to Victoria with my wife and young kids, taking a weekend class in ocean sailing at OCSC in Berkeley last year, taking another weekend class last October on a 40 foot sloop out of Portland to Astoria and across the bar(including night sailing).I'll be travelling with my wife(who has been with me on all but one of the aforementioned big boat trips, and two couples with no experience but much enthusiasm. I'm 55 and fit.
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Old 30-01-2010, 18:05   #7
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It will be fun

7 days - OK - you could do all three islands but you will be moving "fast" to cover that much.....just depends on the pace & what the crew likes to do.

when we went the 1st time - It was Anguilla & SXM - we did Grand Case, SXM - then Road Bay - Anguilla - headed back to Marigot - Orient/il Pinel.

Sunsail vs Moorings - I've used both at SXM - no (almost) complaints with either - certainly not as easy as jumping in chase boat in BVI if you have a breakdown in St. Barths but they have relationships on each island. Boat choice (age/model) does not guarantee but helps the odds

Ed Hamilton - charter broker? - good reputation

Degree of difficulty - You will be fine based on your experience - just recognize it is different than BVI - prepare via Cruising Guide at home - Chart briefing will complete the preparation.

It will be different but fun
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Old 30-01-2010, 19:07   #8
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Sounds like I struck Gold with your expertise. How many times have you sailed that area? And have you done so in July?
Also, cat vs. mono in that neck of the Carib?
I prefer one hull, but I genuinely get the virtues of two.
And thanks again, for your very helpful wisdom.
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Old 30-01-2010, 21:24   #9
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Of course, this is all my opinion...

I love St. Martin. Spent a few holidays there on land and have sailed there many, many times.

For a 7 day charter I'd be inclined to give Anguila a miss. Expensive fees and inconvenient check-in/out on North shore, Gorgous beaches but not at the anchorages.

SXM Highlights: Marigot market, fresh baking, real coffee, Lunch stop at Friars Bay, Dinner out in Grand Case, (food everywhere on the island is unreal.), Happy hour and overnight at Pinel, Lunch and mud bath on Tintamar, Windsurfing/kiting at Green Cay/Orient. Dutch end I've had some great times anchored in Great Bay, Phillipsburg, when the wave are shutting down the West side. Every side of St. Martin has beautiful beaches, cute girls and friendly people.

St Barts..Must see. Fun reach to and from..

Lock your boat and secure your dingy. "Petty" theft is common.

Any concerns with Oyster pond entry, radio in and they'll send out someone to lead the way through the reef. Sometimes you can't see the marks in the waves. No worries.

Wish I were going too!

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Old 30-01-2010, 21:26   #10
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no Gold Here

b- don't get carried away - just sharing the salt & sun

# of times/when = only twice - '09(last week May / 1st week in June)
& '05 (late July-early Aug) - different routes

hull(s) - Did mono both times.........but recognize & appreciate Cats with larger group especially with "landlubbers". Like you I prefer mono but have done Cats on other charters/trips.

July - my only comment there is that the weather becomes less predictable as you go deeper into the summer in the carib - you could get perfect weather with good wind or a couple of days with some squalls - certainly better odds in July than later in the summer .....

Sure more folks will chime in -
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Old 31-01-2010, 04:54   #11
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We did a 10 day charter out of St Martin some ten years ago, in late June. Strangely the charter guy noted that we were having the "Christmas Winds" in June. It blew 25-30 kts for a few days, then settled down. We had a short rain shower almost every afternoon, but it was cooling and not unpleasant.

We did Grand Case, Tintamarre, Orient Bay, Saba, St. Barth's (three days with car rental--the ladies loved it), Ile Forchue and back to Marigot. Fun trip! Chris Doyle's guide has everything you need to know to plan your trip.

p.s. Saba is a great spot with fabulous diving and snorkeling, but very rolly if there's any kind of swell running.
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Old 31-01-2010, 12:34   #12
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Couple More

Since we keep referencing the Cruising Guide here's a link but it's available at all the usual on-line sources for books too

Also the Leeward section of Doyle's website where updates are posted
Updates Leeward Islands

His site(and guide) also has links to other relevant info

Saba - FYI - Agree with attractions & unique beauty but Moorings had it 100% off-limits last summer as a Sunsail boat was lost after a mooring incident - you could sign an insurance waiver but we passed since we had plenty of other islands on our Itinerary much further south

Your route planning will be influenced to some degree by the round trip distances (yeah, duh-I know) - compared to BVI (since it was used earlier) where you can see & zip to the next anchorage (in some cases) quickly.

Again, it will be fun - and whatever you don't see this time will get you back again
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Old 01-02-2010, 02:29   #13
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I've spent some time around St. Martin and the sailing there is quite different to that found in the BVI. If you go to my boat's web pages (the link is in my signature line) or straight to Saint Martin or Sint Maarten pages.

While Anguilla is pretty it isn't an optimal cruising destination, they keep out the hoi polloi by doing things like charging $120 to clear in.

From St. Martin you can sail to St. Barts or, if the wind and waves permit, to Saba.
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leeward islands, St Martin

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