Planning to sail St Martin started in earnest about 5 months before the trip when I booked a 4800 catamaran through Moorings. Once the location was locked in, and the dates set for the first week of June, I went into planning mode.
To begin my planning I purchased “The Cruising Guide to the Northern Leeward Islands” and “Leeward Anchorages” by Chris Doyle. The cruising guide is a must-have for anyone planning to sail St Martin. The anchorages guide is a nice-to-have. It gives you a bird’s eye view of each anchorage so that you can see it before you get there.
I read through the cruising guide, highlighting important things as I went so that I could easily refer back to it later. The guide is a bit dated, but still contains invaluable information. For instance, the “rock awash” at Il Fourche is still there and would bring an abrupt end to your sailing trip if you didn’t know about it! Any information about customs can be ignored though as much has changed since the book was printed.
After reading the cruising guide, my next step was to plan a rough itinerary. I booked the boat for 7 nights, but traditionally I like to be back at Moorings for the 7th night. This left 6 nights for planning the itinerary. Here is the itinerary that was planned when we sailed out of Oyster Bay on the first day of our trip.
With the itinerary planned, the only things left to do were provision the boat, and then wait for June to arrive. For provisions I used Moorings. Yes, you might be able to save a few dollars by doing your own provisioning, but nothing beats the convenience of the provisions just showing up at the boat. I recommend taking a copy of your provision request with you so that you can do an inventory before you leave the Moorings base. We have been missing items in the past, and it is easier to address those issues before you sail away.
For beverages I found that the local prices were substantially better than the Moorings prices. A quick Google search led me to Le Grand Marche. This local grocery store chain offers free delivery to yacht charterers on orders over $250. For Moorings delivery, you will want to contact the Bush Road Supermarket. I found that calling them was a much better way to communicate than by email.
About a week before I left to sail St Martin I started pulling together the items for my “gear bag”. My gear bag inventory list has been compiled over the last several sailing trips. It contains items to either make the trip better, or is the “magic hat” that I go to when I need something to solve a problem. On this trip, my gear bag weight 58 pounds, and my clothing bag weight 24!
My Sail St Martin Gear Bag
With the planning done, all that was left was waiting for June 3rd, when the sail St Martin adventure would begin.