St. Maartin, St. Barts & Anguilla
Doing this trip in Feb.with 5 experienced sailors on a Gibsea 43, any interesting places to go,pristine beaches or places to avoid?????
St. Maartin, St. Barts & Anguilla
here is our log from dec1999-jan2000,
we are going again at the end of this Feb
hope it helps
Arrive St. Martin 2:45 PM
Had made arrangements with Island Car Care to rent a car for one day. They agreed to deliver the car to the airport and pick it up at the marina. Outside the airport were many rental companies waiting to greet their customers, but Island Car Care was not their. I called their office, but the telephone was out of order.
Checked other rental agencies located at the airport, but they had no cars available. There was an agent from Sun Sail picking up other Sun Sail clients, but his van was full. I asked if he could recommend another company, and he introduced me to a man who arranged for a car (at first he wanted $100 for 24 hrs, the going rate was 45-55 per day). It was hot, we were tired so we agreed to pay Original Car Rental $75 for a 4 wheel drive, soft top.
It ran well, but had almost no room for luggage.
Since it was still early, and I knew traffic could be heavy we drove west, around Simson Bay Lagoon, we stopped and looked at the beaches as we went. The beaches on the south end were heavily damaged by Lenny, many hotels and businesses still show major damage. Baie Rouge looked pretty good, so we decided to come back there after dropping our luggage at the hotel.
Checked into Hotel Golfe at about 4:00 PM.
Hotel Golfe is a small hotel in the southern end of Marigot overlooking a small field of cattle and goats which seperates us from the Lagoon. The hotel manager is very friendly. Decorations are bright and cheerful, there is a small patio for dining next to a very small swimming pool. Over all it is a pleasant atmosphere. Our rooms (we were also given the room key for our friend’s who were to arrive much later) are clean and bright, but a little musty smelling (this is the tropics). The air conditioner worked, but slowly.
Drove to Baie Rouge, apparently some loss of beach sand with resultant exposed rocks here and their and a pronounced drop off at the breaker line (this may be typical of this fairly steep beach). The beach bar was open and we had a drink. There was only one other couple on the beach, they were from the states also, he was working in temporarily Phillipsburg, and his wife had joined him for the Holiday.
After sunset, we went back to hotel and walked to marina. The neighborhood between the hotel and the marina was alive with people. It was Christmas day, and music came from many houses, lights were on everywhere, Decorations on many houses, families sitting on porches eating and drinking. It is a poor area by U.S. standard, but we greeted and were greeted in turn by those out and about. The streets are narrow, but clean by Caribbean and South American or US major city standards. The marina is very nice. Virtually no evidence of damage from the hurricane. The restaurants are open, and moderately busy. When we stop to check menus we are greeted very warmly by the maitre de. We find Sun Sail at the northern end of the marina, there is no one at the office at this time (7 PM). We see two boats that could possibly be ours.
Sarah and I choose to have a drink and hors d’ouvres at La Petite Auberge. We had Escargote and Cod Fritters, a glass of red wine each, plus some bread. It was delicious, just what we wanted. We took our time, since Jim and Christine’s plane was not due until 9 PM.
We strolled back to the hotel the way we had come. On the way we were offered to purchase marijuana – a man leaning against a wall quietly said “you want to buy gangha?”. We politely declined and wished him a good evening. We later learned that Sun Sail no longer recommended Hotel Golfe to its clients because of complaints about being offered drugs on the street. We were not “bothered” by the incident since we have had the same experiences in many other cities in many other countries, the latest being on New Year’s Eve in New Orleans just 3 years ago. So we did not feel threatened for our personal security. We probably would not walk these same streets much later at night. But, at 8 PM there were still plenty of people on the street so we felt secure.
Just on time to meet Christine and Jim as they came out of the airport.
Checked in with Sun Sail to see if any possibility of getting boat out at the 9 AM bridge – unfortunately they had not cleaned it or provisioned it yet. So we drove to Little Friar’s Bay and spent the day at the beach. The beach was fine as was the beach bar and restaurant.
Went to US Import and Export to stock fresh meat, fish and vegetables as well as other items we did not have Sun Sail put on board. Excellent selection of chicken and meats – poor selection of fish on this day (I wanted Tuna or Sword fish, both unavailable. Bought salmon and red snapper filets.
We were back at the marina by 2 PM ready to check out the boat. There is a flurry of activity as most of us want to get out of the marina tonight. Finally at 3:30 our boat is ready to load, Nick announces chart briefing at the same time. Sarah, Jim and Christine load the boat, while I go to briefing.
I go through my checklist for the boat very quickly.
Everything seems o.k.
I am surprised to find in the mast furling on the main. I have never used one before, and Nick is too busy to give any tips in using it. A client on the boat next to us gives me some tips. I can probably figure it out as I go.
Finally at 4:45 we have a pilot aboard to take us out of the marina, through the bridge and into Marigot harbor. Nick said that it was too late to make Grande Case and he suggests we anchor at Marigot tonight. We decide to try for Grande Case. We almost make it, but it is going to be dark if we persist, so we tuck into Friar’s Bay for the night.
Anchor in 11’ over sand. Wind from the NNE, very comfortable night. Only 3 – 4 other boats here.
Open a bottle of champagne – our vacation has started.
Dinner on board: Curried fish in tomato sauce with fragrant rice, Chateneuf du Pape 1994
Fresh fruit salad and coffee for breakfast
Underway at 9 AM headed for Anse Marcel.
Sarah will meet with Scuba Fun for two of her four open water check out dives this afternoon.
We try to raise him on VHF, but no answer (turns out he monitors ch 72 as do many others here)
Anchor in 10’ of water over sand. Poor water visibility here (less than 6 feet).
Took dingy into marina – very nice. Lots of large yachts (motor and sail). We meet Antoine of Scuba Fun. Sarah gets set for her dives, we rent equipment to take along for the rest of the 9 days on the boat. Antoine will pick up the gear at Sun Sail upon our return.
Lunch at Le Calypso, Goat Cheese and herb salad (delicious), rum punch complements of Antoine (thank you Antoine).
We leave Sarah in the capable hands of Antoine and his staff while Jim, Christine and I sail around to Orient Bay. I am anxious about entering since the guide books are very careful to warn sailors about the hazards of making a piloting mistake here. I talked with someone who came out from there a two days earlier and he ended up a little too close to the northern side of the channel and he experienced a very heavy chop (almost breakers). I have read and re-read the instructions, I begin to enter but about a fourth of the way into the channel, the depth drops to only 23’, I turn around and head another 50 yds south and try again. Much better, I keep 25’ below me all the way into the bay. A strong following sea with (confused waves of about 5-6’). I loosen my grip on the wheel now that I am in. Very exciting for a novice/intermediate sailor.
We pull up behind Isle Pinel (easy to avoid rock awash due to red marker).
Very crowded. Large catamaran with day trippers to Isle Pinel looks about ready to leave so we wait for his spot. It is difficult to set the anchor in firm grassy bottom of 8.5 feet. Multiple attempts to get plow to dig in fail. No sandy spots to use (they are taken up by other boats). I decided to try the other anchor – Surprise, no other anchor on board (other than the dingy anchor). Somehow I managed to forget to check for it when we were at Sun Sail. Fortunately the anchorage is well protected. I put on SCUBA gear and set anchor by cutting through grass roots into the sand and placing anchor into the cuts. Backed boat down, rechecked anchor -–set well, it will hold.
Sarah is due back at 5 O’clock at the small dock at the northwest corner of the bay. I went in a little early and asked if there was any store nearby to buy supplies (we needed more ice). Walked up the hill, bear left at first intersection, come to small Texaco gas station, with a surprisingly well stocked grocery store (fresh vegetables, fruits, chicken and meats etc). Got two bags of ice and a can of beer. Put my thumb out for the first passing car and was given a ride to the intersection at the bottom of the hill (this is the road over the hill to Anse Marcel). As soon as I step out, another car stops, and invites me in to ride the rest of the way to the small dock, I gratefully accept.
Sarah arrives, all excited, he afternoon went well. Antoine will pick her up here tomorrow morning at 8 AM. He asks if the rest of our party want to dive with him. I tell him I will call him after checking with Christine and Jim. Back at the boat, they agree to dive with SCUBA fun tomorrow rather than going off on our own (this will be Christine’s first dive since her open water certification just 2 months ago).
Dinner on board: Tacos
Yogurt and fruit for breakfast
Meet Antoine at dock to go diving. Short drive over hill (beautiful views of Anse Marcel to the west and Orient Bay to the east. We enter La Privilage resort, it is meticulously maintained. Sarah and her instructor are on the boat with us and will do her last two open water check out dives on the same reef that we dive.
Isabella Reef and the wreck of the Gregory. O.K. dives but nothing spectacular. We saw two moray eels.
Had lunch again at Le Calypso, best fried calamari I have ever had. Curried Mahi Mahi for main course.
After lunch Antoine drove us back to the dock (he allowed us a short detour one more time to the small store at the Texaco station to get more ice and a few other things we wanted – can’t drink warm champagne to celebrate Sarah’s becoming a certified open water diver).
Dinner on board: Champagne, Fresh garden salad with home made honey mustard dressing, Blackened chicken with Red Beans and Rice, Chateneuf du Pape 1994, Milano cookies and Salem Sweets chocolates for dessert. What a feast in such a beautiful place.
Fruit salad for breakfast
While we were away yesterday another boat anchored in front of us and now has swung directly over our anchor. We have to ask him to move, he seems upset, doesn’t want to believe that he is over our anchor. But, he moves and we are able to weigh anchor.
Moved boat to south end of Orient bay. Easy anchorage, only 4 other boats here. Simple anchoring in 8.5 feet of water over soft sand. The reef between Green Cay and the point at the southern end of Orient bay provides excellent protection from the sea and a magnificent view of the breakers coming down on it. It is a little windier though, but this keeps the sound from the beach bars away (if there is any).
Club Orient is very welcoming. Can rent beach chairs and umbrellas, Easy to land dingy at the far eastern end of the beach to avoid swimmers (a few small boats are moored there). Papagayo’s restaurant has fresh croisants for breakfast, light lunches. Had barbecued pork ribs for lunch, very tasty.
Small store (the boutique) next to the main ofice has some fresh vegetables, fruits, frozen fish and meats, beverages. Can get fresh baked bagettes each morning.
Relaxed all day on the beach, worked on all over tan. Met Roy who is from Texas, living aboard his 38’ C&C the Avion with his charming wife Beverly. We join them for happy hour this evening.
Dinner on board: Fresh garden salad, Mustard and brown sugar encrusted salmon, pasta with Pesto sauce, Cabernet Sauvignon 1996, petite fors for dessert.
Fresh croisants on shore for breakfast.
The original plan was to leave Orient Bay today, but the winds picked up (howled all night), many squalls came through. Seas are really crashing on the reef (twice as high as yesterday). We decide to stay another day, Roy suggests we stay for the New Year’s Eve party. We are considering it.
Go to office to rent a car, Sarah and Christine really want to see the butterfly farm, and since we didn’t get to anchor in Grande Case to try the restaurants there, we rent a car (arranged by office at Club Orient).
M&R Rent a car ($50 for 24 hours)
The butterfly farm was fun, $10 per person for entrance to screened in butterfly garden. Guided tour by John Coward was entertaining and informative. If he is your guide, you will not be sorry you took the time to visit him. Admission covers repeat visits (he highly recommends visiting in the morning when the butterflies emerge). Be sure to ask John what a squiffy butterfly is.
Drove back to Marigot to retrieve my passport and glasses which I left in our first rental car. Sunsail tracked them down for me, and kept them until we got there. Bought more fresh croisants and pastries at the Match, drove through Grande Case and decided to return for dinner.
Had dinner at L’Almandie excellent service, nice ambiance good food, but a little pricey. My dinner was Ostrich. Dinner for four with two appetizers and dessert and a 1994 bottle of Chateneuf du Pape was $200. The creme broule was perfect.
Another very windy night, fewer squalls
Breakfast on board of fruit salad, fresh croisants, and yogurt.
Visited Roy and Beverly on board Avilon. They have done a beautiful job fitting her for a year long live aboard/cruise. Modifications too numerous too mention.
Relaxed all day on the beach.
Lunch one of the restaurants on the beach beyond Club Orient (I forget the name) very expensive.
Dinner on board: Chicken Mole with Red Beans and Rice. Champagne, wine
Go on shore to join Roy and Beverly for a drink and join in the dancing and the costume party. Sarah won a 1990 bottle of Perriet Champagne for the best costume. Back to boat celebrate the arrival of the new millennium, and watch the fireworks.
Spent the morning doing laundry, stocked up on more fresh croisants, etc.
The wind has decreased a little, seas are still pretty high though, we decide we want to move on.
Tuna fish sandwiches for lunch just before getting underway.
Anchor away at 11:30 AM, we use Roy’s instructions for finding the best passage out. We line up a pyramid shaped mound of rock at the end of the beach with the highest point on St. Martin and head out. (he has also given us a GPS waypoint that is about three fourths of the way out of the bay.
We are straight on into the wind and waves. No help from the sails, must motor out. 40hp yanmar at 3,000 rpm and the best we can make is 3.5 knots COG. The swell is 8-10 feet and very choppy, wind is putting a froth on the top of the higher waves and makes some look they are going to break. The breakers are only 40 yards away off both sides. Halfway through the channel we can see deeper water ahead and the waves, while still as large, are more regular. We carried about 25 – 30 feet through much of the channel, but ar Roy’s waypoint (and there out) we carried 40’ depth all the way until we reached deep water at three fourths of a mile out of the bay. About 1 mile out we take a heading for Isle Fourche with reefed main and head sails. Now the ride is much smoother and comfortable. Actually an enjoyably brisk sail.
It was good that we had lunch before leaving, because even a short trip below causes a little queasiness in the stomach.
Arrive at Isle Fourche mid afternoon, anchor in 22’ of water in firm sand. Many boats are already here. I presume that Gustavia was very crowded so Isle Fourche may have taken some of the overflow.
We went ashore and climbed the southern most hill. A small col between two summits funneled the wind into very vigorous blow (30 – 40 knots). Did a little bouldering on the rock, it looked really flaky but it was actually good rock to climb on. There is a nice black sand beach here for swimming. Best sunset of the trip so far tonight.
Dinner on board: cucumber salad with sweet and sour dressing, Grilled salmon steaks and curried rice.
Slept very well, this is a well protected anchorage
Jim and I take the dinghy to north end of the bay to see if we can dive there, but it is too rough to anchor the dinghy. We then check out the southern end. We decide that we can dive from the boat and snorkle over to where the reef begins. But, must stay within the bay to avoid the current that sweeps around the end of the island. It was a nice dive, 40’ for 40 minutes. Lots of very healthy coral (both hard and soft) moderate number of fish, some very large French Angel fish, sting rays.
After lunch (ham and cheese sandwiches and pringles) we decide to leave for St. Barts but the auxillary won’t start. Just get a clicking sound from the starter. Battery voltages appear o.k., Batteries for lights and accessories seem o.k. so we try to start using them, no luck. We put two batteries in parallel, still no luck. Tried tapping on starter while attempting to start – no luck. Then I noticed that there was a connection with a wire missing from it on the selenoid. Found wire with broken copper connector on it. The vibration of the motor has caused the connector to fatique and break. I had brought extra wire for plugging the GPS into the cigarette lighter in the saloon and extending it into the cockpit. I cut a piece of this, doubled it, and spliced a new flexible wire onto the selenoid. Back in business.
Off to St. Barts. Very nice sail, waves only 4-6 feet, winds out of the east at 15 knots.
Anchored at Anse du Columbier in 18’ of water over sand in the NE corner of the bay. About 10 other boats here. The wind really blew down from the saddle between the northern and southern peaks on the east end of this bay.
Dinner on board: Chicken Marsala, pasta with red sauce.
We are out of fresh water (should have lasted longer, since we were very cautious in conserving it, but it’s gone). When a squall came through we all ran on deck and showered and shampooed. It was cool, but it felt good to get the salt off our bodies.
When we arrived, a dive boat was dropping off their clients, I took the dinghy over and asked if he would take us out tomorrow. Bertrand (“Birdy”) of Dive St. Barts (Birdy.email@example.com) said he would pick us up at 10AM.
The wind howled all night, many squalls came through, no one slept very well.
We are missing our MOB ring and strobe, must have blown off during the night, may have been disturbed while sailing yesterday.
Light breakfast of fruit, yogurt and croisants.
Birdy arrived right on time with one other client. He took us around to the southwest corner of the bay tied to a mooring (this would have been to rough to do with the dinghy in these conditions). It was a great dive.
Lots of fish: eels, turtles, jacks, groupers, hog fish, anemone, urchins, wonderful soft and hard corals. 60’ for 40 minutes.
Back on board for lunch: cold cut sandwiches and pringles
Went ashore and hiked along east shore of St. Barts to Baie de Flamands. Passed by small groves full of butterflies, huge lava rock formations. The beach at Baie de Flamands is 300 meter long cream colored sand beach lined with small houses. Large exclusive appearing hotel at the southern end (we wanted to stop for a drink, but we were not dressed appropriately (I was in tank top and boxer swim trunks and sandals). We stopped at a small boulangier on the way back through town and picked up more croissants (what is my cholesterol level now?) and more beer, fresh green and red pepper, celery and green onions for dinner.
Dinner on board: home made fresh mushroom soup, chicken etoufe, rice and white pepper carrots (a la Paul Prudhome).
Slept very well last night, many fewer squalls (or maybe I slept through them)
Decision: we need to be within an easy morning sail of the bridge at Marigot tomorrow morning. Anse Marcel is where we think we want to be, so do we sail on the east then north of St. Martin or south then the west. Distance is a little longer but we feel that we should have a more comfortable sail going south.
We made a good choice. Sailed under full sail in 15 knot winds for hours. One long tack and two shorter ones bring us to Anse Marcel at 4:00 PM (we left St. Barts at 10 AM) traveled more than 25 miles. Everyone is in high spirits as we anchor.
We shower at the marina then plan on dinner at Le Calypso. Went to bar for a drink before dinner. Jim ordered a dry vodka martini, the kid tending bar admitted he was not a bar tender (and gave up trying to make one after three attempts – my high school french did not include enough bar mix vocabulary to help).
We ended up going up the hill to the restaurant near the entrance to Le Privalege. (big blue restaurant sign faces the marina, easily seen from the water). It was spectacular. The view was breath taking. We were the only customers. We ordered champagne cocktails, soon two plates of olives appeared in the hands of a very friendly waiter. He obviously wanted to please us. Then a small plate of crackers with a salmon pate appeared, compliments of the chef. A little while later, and on the second glass of champagne cocktail the chef himself appeared with another plate of appetizers.
We moved to our dinner table, warm crusty rolls were served, I had a bottle of Chateneuf du Pape opened, we never touched the bottle, and our glasses (neither wine nor water were ever empty). I had lobster bisque for an appetizer. A very hot plate arrived, croutons and pieces of lobster tail were placed around a dolup of sour cream then the bisque was added. It took four people to serve our appetizer. My dinner was mustard seed and wasabi encrusted sea bass. I usually don’t like sea bass, but I knew that if anyone could serve it to my liking this was the place, I was correct. It was served cooked just through, but still moist and tender. It came with juliened green beans and a very light potato au gratin. For dessert, I let the waiter choose an apple tart, with mango ice cream and a light caramel cream sauce. (Jim and Christine had the only disappointment, they had the creme broule, but it was over cooked and not smooth at all).
Aperitif of 14 year old rum and we were ready for bed, just a little squiffy.
We had a very uncomfortable night. The wind was out of the east and carried smoke from the other side of the mountain where they were burning debris from the hurricane. Furthermore, the swell crept around the point of the bay and rolled on our beam. So we rolled heavily all night. I would have either taken a slip in the marina or anchored bow and stern (had I had a second anchor) if I knew we would roll like that.
We got underway by 11:00 after a light breakfast on shore (and another shower).
The wind and swell was directly on our stern so we motored (otherwise we would have had to tacked out toward Anquilla and back again in order to prevent gybing). Since it was only 5 miles, we decided to motor.
Back in Marigot harbor at noon, packed our stuff, cleaned the boat then opened our last bottle of Champagne. Called Island Car care, they would have a car at the Marina at 2:30 for us.
Sunsail sent a pilot to bring the boat back to the marina.
Brought our gear back to hotel du golfe, showered, and took a nap before going out to our final dinner on St. Martin at Le Creole (recommended by our hotel manager). A small restaurant with marvelous ambiance. Very friendly bar tender and owner (as usual we were the first to arrive, so had a drink at the bar and talked to the tender and the owner). I had the Red snapper columbo – a lightly curried fish dish, it was mouth wateringly delicious.
got up early to take Chris and Jim to the airport (they left at 8:30 am but our flight is not until 3:45).
Back at hotel Sarah and I have croisants and coffee, then head out for gift shopping for friends and relatives left at home.
Drove to sunset beach bar. Had a couple beers while we watched the planes land. Naomi got excited when a plane with the Miami dolphin’s logo landed. She checked her book of airplane registration numbers to see if it was a team plane or if it belonged to and individual player. But it was owned by a leasing company. She appreciated the use of our binoculars to check out a couple other planes.
Well that was our trip, made the 5 minute jaunt to the terminal, turned the rental car back over to Island Car Care and flew home.
St. Martin was wonderful. Yes there is some damage on the southern end of the island, but we found enough beauty and warmth to cause us to want to go back again soon.
Enjoyed your charter log. It brought back memories of a charter at the Moorings, which I did with friends years ago.
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