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Old 01-22-2009
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Must sees, must avoids on charter from Antigua to St. Martin.

I am planning a one way bareboat charter from Antigua to St. Martin. The start date is coming up in the next couple of weeks. I have Chris Doyleís cruising guide and that has a lot of great information but Iím asking around for thoughts on must see locations as well as places to avoid.

We will be on the boat for 8 nights. We are planning so far to visit the islands of Antigua, Barbuda, Nevis and St. Kitts, (perhaps Statia?). On a previous trip we have been to St. Barts and St. Martin so we have firsthand knowledge of those places but havenít been to the others. We are an experienced crew who like everything from empty anchorages to the occasional busy port for a good meal and nightlife. Experiencing the local feel/food and meeting the people of the different islands we visit is one of the primary reasons for the trip (as Iím sure it is for many of us who sail in far way places).

Anyone out there with any advice?
Thanks in advance.
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Old 01-22-2009
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Hi, Jim.

I live on Nevis, so I'm prejudiced, but I think you'll like it here. If you leave Antigua early in the morning, you should get to Charlestown, Nevis, in time to clear in. It's an easy downwind sail.

There are moorings off Pinney's beach, just north of Charlestown. Most sailors hang out at the Double Deuce beach bar and restaurant, located at the very south end of the sandy beach. It's an easy walk up to Sunshine's beach bar/restaurant if you want a change of pace. Mark at Double Deuce used to be chef at Montpelier Plantation Inn here, a four star restaurant. They have free WiFi. If you do a taxi tour of Nevis, stop for lunch at the Golden Rock Inn--great lobster sandwiches and a spectacular view of Redonda and Montserrat.

There's not much for sailors on St. Kitts. The best anchorages are on the southeast peninsula, which is mostly uninhabited. The anchorage in Basseterre is unattractive. If you want to do a tour ashore on St. Kitts, you could sail over, or take the ferry from Nevis, and hire a taxi in Basseterre. The best sights to see are Romney Manor (gardens and an active batik studio), Brimstone Hill Fort (nicely restored, spectacular views), and Rawlins Plantation (excellent West Indian lunch, pretty grounds to walk, and Kate Walwyn's art studio). If you decide to do this, get your taxi driver to call Rawlins Plantation to make a reservation for you.

Barbuda is definitely worth seeing. It's a very unique island, low and scrubby, but surrounded by beautiful, turqoise waters. There's a frigate bird rookery on the northwest side--you'll need to hire a guide to see it. You'll have to get across the lagoon to Codrington to clear out, unless you plan to go back to Antigua.

We've been to Statia only once, and the anchorage was the rolliest we've experienced! Saba is interesting and beautiful, with good snorkeling, but can be very rolly, too. It's a day-sail from Nevis, and then St. Martin is an easy beam reach.

The weather should be generally good, but keep some flexibility in your itinerary. We just had a week or so of 25-30 kt winds.

Hope you have a great time!
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Old 01-22-2009
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Perfect Hud, this is exactly what I'm looking for. Thanks for taking the time to write it all out. We are very much looking forward to the trip.

Our plan is Antigua, definitely Barbuda (the frigate bird tour is on the list) then Nevis in that order. Then on to other stops on the way toward St. Martin. Iíll have to figure out the clearing out part since we wonít be headed back to Antigua.

Your descriptions are great Ė I can almost taste the lobster sandwiches already!
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Old 01-22-2009
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Note: All my data / impressions are from 2005 and 2006.

Assume you're starting in Antigua, but don't know where. English Harbor and Nelson's Dock Yard (south coast) are great. The Dock Yard is a nice place to splurge for a spot on the quay wall (Med moor). I would avoid eating at the Admiral's Inn (?? or something like that) unless it's under new management. It is a spectacular setting for a restaurant but the prices were sky high and the meal profoundly ordinary. We had our anniversary dinner there and it was a big disappointment. Other spots in the Dock Yard and nearby are much better.

Our second stop on Antigua was at Jolly Harbor -- we went in there to check out. It seemed like a typical modern yacht harbor / condo development in progress. Much of it was un- / underdeveloped at the time we were there so we limited our visit to the customs office and then went and anchored in the next bay to the north (??).

St. Kitts -- In 2005 we spent a couple of nights at Basseterre on St. Kitts. We took a slip at the "marina", although it's not much more than a boat basin. As I remember the price was reasonable, but there were not many facilities. The place was "under construction" and may still be. I would second the tip on Brimstone Hill. We took an all-day taxi tour and did a circuit of the island. Brimstone Hill was the highlight. Main complaint we had was getting ripped off by the local laundry guy -- on the trip from St. Maarten we left a hatch open and took some water below. The mate used 5-6 beach towels to mop everything up. When we got to Basseterre we sent the towels to the local laundry and we're shocked to learn that the price (based on weight of the laundry bag) was calculated before they washed anything -- so we got charged a small fortune for the salt water in the wet towels. That and the lack of much to do left us with a bit of an attitude towrad the place. We skipped the island on our trip north from Trinidad the next season -- it's definitely a BTDT kind of place. Go once, see Brinstone Hill. That's it.

Your post indicates you've been to St Barths and St Martin, but I'll add a few words on each for other interested readers.

St. Barths -- Definitely worth a visit, although you are going to be charged a fee in the anchorage. They rented us a place to put our anchor for about $8 / night. You can also med moor in the harbor or take a mooring at the head of the harbor, if they are available. It's very well developed and caters to elites of the world -- Lots of mega yachts, every conceiveable luxury brand has a store, lots of restaurants, bars, clubs. Jimmy Buffet flew in one night we were there in his seaplane. It jumps! There are also a few nice anchorages on leeward side St. Barths to the north of Gustavia, but we saved them for our next trip that way.

St Maarten is a fun place. Save a few days at the end to enjoy both the Dutch and French sides. Don't miss "Shrimpy's" -- a small bar on the Lagoon waterfront near the end of the runway. It's a cruiser's hangout. The owner, Mike (Shrimpy is his dog), sailed in to St. Maarten years ago and never left. He has good food, reasonable drinks and the best laundry service in the Caribbean. One the French side there is also a lot to do, most of it having to do with eating, drinking or buying something. Marigot has great restaurants, shops and lots of Carib. architecture and charm. There's a special night (Wednesdays??) for visits to La Case (spelling?). They have great BBQ in the town square and you may get a Carnival parade, if you're there in season. We rented a car on the Dutch side and toured the island. You can also anchor in Philipsburg on the Dutch side or Marigot on the French, but we found the Dutch side Lagoon more convenient.

Have fun.



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Old 01-22-2009
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If timing and weather allow,(btw the sea conditions may make Barbuda a questionable stop) then a visit to Saba is an amazing departure from the Caribbean norm... There are a half a dozen or so mooring bouys just off the "Ladder" near Diamond Rock, anchoring is questionable due to swell and depth, but once ashore you're in for a totally different experience. Take the taxi from Wells Bay to Windwardside, hike the 1,000 steps to the peak if you're up to it, then take a stroll down to the Bottoms along a beautiful walking trail.... and taxi back to the boat afterwards.

No sandy beaches, but crystal clear waters, steep terrain and a good lesson in Dutch obstinancy (the original settlers were told they'd never be able to build a road there......)

Have a great trip.. we're off to Barra de Navidad in Mexico for a week with some friends there!
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Old 01-22-2009
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Thanks, Billy. Great Info. Admiral's Inn is off the list for Antigua and Brimstone Hill (St. Kitts) is on.

Faster, thanks to you too. For the trip to Barbuda this time a year, concerning sea conditions, I assume you mean to watch out for the northerly swells?
I'm intrigued by Saba. I'd be concerned about northerly swells here as well and the deep anchorages. I'd hate to get their late and find no moorings.
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Old 01-23-2009
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Sounds like a fun trip!

Just a minor correction re Billy: Shrimpy's closed about a year ago. I believe you're referring to Harmony Nights in Grand Case - those are on Tuesday evenings during high season.

Good happy hour hangouts would include Lady C Floating Bar, Buccaneer Beach Bar and Soggy Dollar. Nice mix of local expats, cruisers, etc. Restaurants are too many to mention, I'd suggest googling for them
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Old 01-23-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JSL3 View Post
...
Faster, thanks to you too. For the trip to Barbuda this time a year, concerning sea conditions, I assume you mean to watch out for the northerly swells?
I'm intrigued by Saba. I'd be concerned about northerly swells here as well and the deep anchorages. I'd hate to get their late and find no moorings.
All true... but that's the nature of that type of cruising - you make your plans but be prepared to change them quickly if the weather/sea conditions either worsen or improve! Either way enjoy the trip!
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Old 03-07-2009
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how was your trip?

JSL3:

hi

i assume you're back from your 1-way antigua to st martin. i'm doing the same trip in two weeks. if you get a chance, tell us all how your trip went (amazing, i'm guessing) with some details.

cheers!
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Old 03-13-2009
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Summary of One Way Charter from Antigua to St. Martin Ė Early February 2009

At the request of ArgleBargle, here are some edited notes from my log. For others, sorry for the long post – feel free to ignore. On the other hand, for those of us who are patiently waiting for spring weather to get back out on the water, maybe some pictures will help?

We had virtually no northerly swells for our entire 8 days. In the winter it is not unusual to get northerly swells. If so, a number of the places where we stayed would be susceptible to the swell and we most likely would not have stayed at some. Doyle’s Cruising Guide to the Leewards is essential and will direct you on this.

Night 1 – Nelson’s Dockyard, English Harbour, picked up our boat. Sunsail 434 Catamaran. While I prefer to sail a monohull (and that is what I own), it is tough to beat the comforts of a large cat when you are in the islands.

Saw the Maltese Falcon docked in nearby Falmouth Harbor. We actually walked up on the dock past security right next to her and took a bunch of pictures. That is one large boat!


Sail Day 2 – English Harbor to Dickenson Bay (20 nm). Wind and waves moderate. Night 2 – Dickenson Bay, Antiqua. (GPS N17 09 45.3 W61 50 59.6)
On the way west and north, we navigated through Goat Head Channel off SW coast of Antigua – looks ominous from the chart but it is the way to go. In Dickenson Bay, anchored a little N of the Sandals Hotel in about 10 feet of water, good holding in sand, couldn’t see the bottom (water in most every anchorage near shore was cloudy with suspended sand – apparently the week before was rough and stirred up the sand), probably not good anchorage in N swells, ashore by dinghy – no dinghy dock – landed on beach. The N end of the beach was more quiet (N of Sandals) but the whole bay was somewhat devoid of nightlife perhaps due to the economy?
Little Sisters Rocks, S Dickenson Bay

Ashore we went to King’s Casino in downtown St. Johns. The casino was pretty much a dump but we all came away with a little extra cash so there was no complaining. I did feel a little odd being searched for weapons at the door with a metal detector. I’ll probably avoid that place next time around. Peaceful night among only 2 other boats.

Sail Day 3 – Dickenson Bay to Cocoa Point, Barbuda (29 nm). Wind E 20-25kts, Seas 8-10’ between islands. Night 3 – Cocoa Point (GPS N17 33 11.1 W61 46 15.3)
Once again, with northerly swells I think that Barbuda would not be an option, we were blessed with easterly waves mostly all of the time during this trip. Anchored near rarely used airstrip just W of Cocoa Point in 12 feet of water. Good holding in sand but couldn’t see the bottom.

Took the dinghy around Cocoa Point into Gravenor Bay for some snorkeling (not all that good). Beautiful night, approx. 6 other boats within site.

Sail Day 4 – Cocoa Point, Barbuda to Low Bay, Barbuda (11 nm). Wind E 12-15kts, Seas 3-4’. We sailed mostly in the lee of the island for this short sail. Night 4 – Low Bay, Barbuda (GPS N17 38 02.7 W61 51 16.0) Anchored in 15 feet of water in sand – good holding. Since most of most of the anchorages we were in were cloudy water (suspended sand) and we couldn’t see the bottom, we used our anchor float technique for anchoring. Since it is the Caribbean, once the anchor is set and I have backed down on it, I generally put on the mask and snorkel and dive the anchor to confirm the set and what the bottom is. With visibility in the 3-4 foot range it was next to impossible to find the anchor without a float. We ended up using some thin line we brought and an empty Evian bottle clipped to the anchor before we drop it. Once the bottle floats to the surface it is easy to skin dive down 15-20 feet to view it. Not very ‘yar’ to have a plastic bottle floating on top of your anchor but it allows me to sleep well at night knowing the anchor has set well in good holding bottom.
I’d have to say this was the most beautiful anchorage of the trip. Low Bay is in the middle of 11 Mile Beach on the W coast of Barbuda. Simply breathtaking. 4 boats in view. Palm trees. White/Pinkish sand as far as the eye can see. Very few if any very small buildings. Well worth the detour off the overall trip from Antigua to St. Martin if the weather allows.

This location also had my favorite outing of the trip. We called George Jeffrey on the VHF (see Doyle’s Guide for details) and arranged the Frigate Bird Tour in the northern part of Codrington Lagoon. He takes you on his boat into the bird colony – I believe the largest Frigate Bird colony in the world. Wow. 20,000 nesting birds. George was a wealth of local knowledge and really knows the ecology and biology of the region. All at a very reasonable price. I can’t recommend this enough. He then brought us to the only town on the island – Codrington. We walked around for a little and looking for some food, went to find Jackie at Wa O’moni’s Best restaurant. We arrived just as she was closing. She reopened for us with a smile and we had a great lunch. Beautiful sunset with Nevis and St. Kitts on the horizon.


Sail Day 5 – Low Bay, Barbuda to Charlestown, Nevis (56 nm – long sail!) Winds E15-20kts, Seas 7-8’. A few showers. Night 5 – N of Charlestown, Nevis (GPS N17 08 54.1 W62 37 53.3) We left at sunrise for our 7 hour sail. Downwind, one tack – lots of flying fish. Great day on the water. Picked up a mooring off the S end of Piney Beach, N of the Main Dock in Charlestown Harbour . There are a lot of moorings here (maybe 50?). When we were there, only about 15 were being used.

Special thanks to Hud / hphoen “Nevis Nice” who provided the best tip of this thread – the Double Duece. Thanks Hud!! Arriving after our longest sail of the trip and not so deftly beaching the dinghy we were in need of a drink. Mark Roberts of the Double Duece was tending bar and offered up a ‘Stinger’ and we were hooked. We ended up staying all night, eating a great dinner, swapping sailing and cooking (one of our crew is an accomplished cook, and Mark is an amazing chef) stories, playing pool and generally loving life. Double Deuce was clearly the best restaurant/bar of the trip. View from the beach bar deck. That is St. Kitts in the background.


Sail Day 6 – Charlestown, Nevis to White House Bay, St. Kitts (8 nm). Wind E12-15kts, Seas 3-4’. Night 6 White House Bay, St. Kitts. (GPS N17 14 59.8 W62 39 32.6). Anchored in 25’ of water. Had to haul up 1st attempt because of poor holding and drop the hook a 2nd time which is unusual for us. A dive on the anchor showed a mix of grass/rock/sand which indicated why the first attempt failed. We specifically chose this anchorage because of the fore casted easterly winds. We ended up with winds that clocked around all night. I left the GPS on and we actually spun around all night and at anchor traveled (as recorded by GPS track) a total of one nautical mile during the nighttime hours! Erring on the side of caution, I instituted an anchor watch this night based on the proximity of the other boats (none of which were swinging in the same direction) and because for part of the night, due to the wind shift, we ended up anchored on a lee shore. Strange wind pattern that night. Fairly nice spot though. 8 other boats. Decent snorkeling on a wreck in Whitehouse Bay and a good reef at nearby (dinghy ride) Ballast Bay.


Sail Day 7 – White House Bay, St. Kitts to Basseterre, St. Kitts (for water) and back to Charlestown, Nevis (16nm) Wind E12-15kts, Seas 3-4’. Night 7 – N of Charlestown, Nevis (GPS N17 08 58.5 W62 37 54.1). Took a Mooring a few spaces up from where we were 2 nights before. The original plan was to head from Whitehouse Bay to Statia. The weather forecast has the swells turning to the North and based on the advice of Hud / hphoen “Nevis Nice” and others we spoke to locally we didn’t want to risk rolling all night long. Since we had to get water, we headed to Basseterre on the chance that we might stay there the night. A few minutes after docking and looking around, we decided it wasn’t for us. Big cruise ship, dumpy harbor, gated parking lot, etc. Once again Hud’s advice was right on. Based on what a blast we had with Mark at the Double Deuce 2 days before, the only logical decision was to head back to Nevis. We had dinner at Sunshine’s just up the beach from the Double Deuce. Great location, great outdoor dining and good food. Worth the stop. Back to visit Mark for a nightcap before turning in.

Sail Day 8 – Charlestown, Nevis to Anse de Columbier, St. Barts (52nm). Wind ESE 12-15kts, Seas 6-8’. Night 8 – Anse de Columbier, St. Barts (GPS N17 55 29.0 W62 52 14.2) Left just before sunrise for our 2nd long sail of the trip. Best day on the water. After passing between Nevis and St. Kitts and turning north it was one tack with perfect weather. We only say one small power boat in the next 6 hours until we passed the coast of St. Barts. We opted for Anse de Columbier instead of the crowded Gustavia. We had been to Gustavia once before and while it was nice to see once, it is much too high society for our tastes. Took a mooring. We got there at about 1:30PM on a Monday and we had our choice of 5 or so moorings left. By the time the sun was setting, they were all filled. Anse de Columbier was beautiful. Perfect bay with green hills, part rocky shore and part sandy shore, no easy access from the land so very undisturbed.

We had the best snorkeling of the trip here because the water was clear. Among many other things, I was able to film a octopus swimming. Very cool. And tons of turtles popping their heads up all afternoon and the next morning. Beautiful sunset over the water with St. Martin off to the right. Great last night.


Sail Day 9 – Anse de Columbier, St. Barts to Oyster Pond, St. Martin (12 nm). Wind E20-22kts, Seas 4-6’. Again, great weather, no complaints for the whole week. The final approach to Oyster Pond is always interesting. Although the waves were breaking they were small enough to not be a huge challenge. Regardless, that last ľ mile through the well marked channel with reefs on both sides is exhilarating. Returned the boat by 11am and packed up for the afternoon flight home.

At just over 200nm for the week, we had some good long sails but still had plenty of time at anchor and as much time on land as we wanted.
Argle, I’d be happy to go back and show you around if you need an extra hand.
Have a great trip. I know you will.

A couple more wildlife photos...


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Last edited by JSL3; 03-13-2009 at 10:13 PM.
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