Night #2 of our sail St Martin trip was uneventful. Early the next morning I went ashore to complete our customs check-in for Anguilla. I arrived at the opening time posted on the door to find the door locked. A reminder that “island time” is always in effect in the Caribbean. After about 15 minutes the customs office opened, and I began the check-in process.
Once I had filled out the paperwork I learned that there was not a customs agent in the office today. I would need to walk down the beach to the commercial dock (about a quarter mile) and clear customs there. After checking in with security at the commercial dock, I was directed around the building to the customs office.
Customs Tip #3: Take your boat’s papers, clearance out of last port, passports for each crew member, and at least 4 copies of your crew list with you to clear in at Anguilla. If you do not have 4 copies of your crew list you will have to hand write additional copies. I included the name, address, date or birth, nationality, passport country, passport issue date, passport expiration date, and passport number for each crewmember on a list that I prepared before the trip. This information covered what they were looking for.
Our original sail plan called for us to head to Prickly Pear (north of Road Bay) today then come back and anchor in Crocus Bay for the evening. Tomorrow we would hit Little Bay and Sandy Island before heading back to Grand Case on St Martin. However, this all changed when I learned how expensive it was going to be to stay in Anguilla.
Anguilla processes their customs based on “days” that start at midnight each day. This means that if you arrive in the afternoon and spend 2 nights, you are technically in Anguilla for 3 days. On top of this, if you visit anywhere other than Road Bay you have to have to pay a very expensive “park fee” for each day. I learned that it was going to be about $20 to clear my crew in, and then $140 per day in park fees. If I stuck with my original plan, fees would have been about $300. Sticker shock quickly had me re-evaluating my plans.
Customs Tip #4: If you plan to leave Anguilla within 24 hours of checking in, then ask customs to clear you out at the same time they clear you in. This eliminates the need to return to Road Bay and clear out.
I decided that we would hit some of the Anguilla highlights today, and then head back to Grand Case for the night. I paid $160 to customs, and headed back to the boat. We pulled the anchor and headed over to Little Bay where we hooked up to a mooring ball in the marine park. Part of our group headed ashore to a small beach area while the rest of us went snorkeling. I saw the biggest conch shell I have ever seen. It had to be the size of a basketball, if not larger.
After everyone had their fill of Little Bay we let go of the mooring ball and headed for Sandy Island. This is a small, exposed sand bar about a mile north of Road Bay. It is very picturesque, and has a small restaurant on it where you can grab a drink or quick lunch. We stayed for about an hour (enough time to walk around the island about 20 times) before raising the sails and heading back to St Martin.
The wind was great again. We had decided to take the reef out of our sail, but probably should have left it in. We were sailing at about 6 knots on a broad reach as we headed west along the north coast of Anguilla. Once we rounded the rocks on the western edge of the island the wind really picked up. We were seeing speeds of 8.5 to 9 knots, close hauled. It was a lot of fun, and a great day of sailing.
As we approached the northern coast of St Martin we decided to drop our sails and motor our way over to Grand Case. It was getting late in the afternoon, and the wind was not going to get us there without lots of tacking.
For some reason we had a good bit of trouble getting the anchor to set this time. After a couple of tries, and lots of frustration, we got it though. A couple of us went ashore to drop off our trash and pick up some ice, while the rest stayed behind to clean up and get dinner ready.
After dinner, several of us went ashore to find some more of that banana rum at C’est La Vie. It was a great way to end the day… toes in the sand with the occasional wave washing over them and some great rum to sip on. I could have stayed there forever!