I never expected this blog review of my sail St Martin trip to end up being 10 blog posts (go to post #1). I simply set out to detail my trip in the hopes that it may help someone else that is planning to sail St Martin.
I write this blog post 12 weeks after returning from the trip. My ribs are nearly healed, and I have had time to reflect on the trip and come up with my top 10 takeaways. Hopefully they can help someone else that may be planning to sail St Martin:
- The sailing around St Martin is not like the sailing around the British Virgin Islands. At times the ride will be rough, and many of the sails will be long. If you enjoy sailing only for the “destination” you should probably stick to the BVI. If you enjoy sailing for the “journey” and the “destination” then you will enjoy your time in St Martin.
- Don’t stress about customs. Before I headed to St Martin I did every Google search imaginable to learn about clearing in and out of customs. I found that most of the information was out-of-date, or one source would contradict another source. If you’re use Moorings as your charter company (which you should), they will tell you everything you need to know before you set sail.One suggestion here: Make a crew list before you leave, and print several copies to take with you. Include each crewmember’s name, address, date of birth, passport number, passport issue date, passport expiration date, and passport country. I found this document useful several times during my trip.
- In reading the cruising guide I got the impression that you could not spend the night in any of the areas deemed as marine parks. Double check with Moorings before you leave because it seems like some of these restrictions may have been lifted. There were 2 places in particular that I would have changed my plans to stay had I thought to check before I left… Tintamarre and Ile Fourche.
- If I was planning my itinerary knowing what I know now then it would for sure include: Grand Case, Tintamarre, Ile Fourche, Gustavia, and Anse de Columbier. I would skip the trip up to Anguilla and use the time instead to explore more of St Martin or St Barths.
- Don’t be scared away from St Martin by the need to anchor nearly everywhere. Drop your anchor in a sandy patch, let out 7 feet of rode for every foot of depth, let the boat swing to the anchor, then back down on it at 1,500 RPMs. If you miss the sand, or drag the anchor when you back down, pick it up and try again. We had a couple places we had to try 2 or 3 times before I was confident in the anchor holding. By the end of the trip though, I was confident in our anchoring skills.
- Make sure you pack good shoes for hiking. My wife and I have started taking our dive boots almost everywhere we travel now. Not only are they great for in the water, but they offer great protection on land as well. I would not go on a serious hike in them, but to climb a few hills or to explore an anchorage they work just fine. In particular, plan time to explore Tintamarre, Ile Fourche, and Anse de Columbier on foot.
- If souvenir shopping is required for a successful vacation then you may be a little disappointed. We encountered shopping at Grand Case and Gustavia, but very little anywhere else. Some of the larger ports where the cruise ships dock may be better, but we stayed away from those.
- Don’t take a 100% newbie crew with you. We found lots of wind and 5 to 7 foot seas while we were in St Martin. It was great to have someone else onboard that knew how to sail so we could split the responsibilities. One could worry about the sails and sail trim while the other steered the boat to the wind. You might be able to sail a Moorings 4800 catamaran yourself, but it is way more fun with someone else to help.
- Plan a water stop into your itinerary. We stopped in Anse Marcel about midway through our trip to get water. It was easy and not real expensive. Planning this stop allowed us take showers each night, and not worry about running out of water. Showers and plenty of water just make the trip so much better!
- I’ll admit I was a bit nervous about this trip. Sure, I had been on several sailing trips before, but I knew this was not going to be an easy trip. There would be more wind, more waves, and more use of the anchor than I had ever experienced. But, I also knew that I would not get better as a sailor if I always did the easy trip. Sure, those trips are fun, but what do I really learn? Sailing St Martin gave me great sailing experience, but more importantly it gave me sailing confidence.
Now that the St Martin trip is complete I have started thinking about where the next sailing adventure may take me. Bahamas, Thailand and Bora Bora are all very high on my list. I suspect Bahamas will be next. I guess I will see where the winds take me (yes, I know, super cheesy). In the meantime, my family and I leave in a few weeks to spend a week at Beaches Turks and Caicos with two other families. I’ll be sure to post my review once I return.
Read My Entire Sail St Martin Review