Bottoms Up, Caribbean Style (Part III)
This is the third story covering my favorite anchorages in the Caribbean, and last time we ended up in Antigua. Having sadly left the northern reef there, you might assume that the next logical stop for any sailor would be St. Martin. Why? Is it because you don’t have time, or you just can’t take another day without a McDonalds?
If I can hold off on a Big Mac for one extra day, I always use that 24 hours after leaving Antigua to break up the sail to St. Martin or St. Barths and have a nice evening in Barbuda.
It’s ironic, really, that Barbuda part of Antigua because it pretty much runs on par when it comes to magnificent beaches and reefs. I anchor right in front of old K Club in about seven feet of water all day and go back to the main anchorage at the bottom of the island for the night. I’ve also taken S/V Wonderful deep inside the reef at the northern end of the island, where we anchored close to the cormorant bird sanctuary. But wherever you go will be breathtaking.
Moving northward, the next place that springs to mind is Isle Pinel in St. Martin. I like the easy vibe of this place, and it’s mainly always calm when the day boats are not zooming around. It has a lovely beach, a great snorkel site and is close enough to Orient Beach if you or your guests want to indulge in St. Martin’s most renowned stretch of sand and all of its amenities.
I also love Grand Case on the north side of St, Martin. It can get a little lumpy there when the wind is blowing strong out of the northeast, but it’s tenable most of the time. It’s great to take a walk through the town in the evenings, and the snorkeling is great around the rock in the northeast corner.
Anguilla, in general, is pretty spectacular. But as this article is about my favorite anchorages, I will only mention Crocus Bay. It’s just to the northeast of Road Bay, where you can clear customs, and is right next to the island’s marine reserves, where I’d strongly recommend a visit. It’s a peaceful place with long, sandy beaches and clear waters. It’s well protected from anything but northerlies, and there’s a nice restaurant on the beach if you don’t want to cook.
Finally, we have the Virgin Islands, where there’s a place to anchor every day of the year. It’s been a while since I’ve been there, but S/V Wonderful will be there in March and April, and I look forward to going back to an old hangout of mine in Peter Island called Little Harbor. For a long time, it was forbidden by a few bareboat companies for their customers to go — those were the good old days — but as time has gone by, more and more of those little boats have started using the bay and providing lots of entertainment for me and a few of my fellow sailors who relax there between charters.
The bay requires the use of a stern line tied to a rock or tree, so as not to swing into other boats. There’s a hike and a couple of dives within a minute or two of the anchorage, and Road Town is a 10-minute dinghy ride on a nice day…11 minutes on a bad day!
Another favorite spot in the Virgin Islands is Mountain Point in Virgin Gorda, where I tuck up into the corner in about 10 feet of water and tie a line ashore. You have great access to the official dive site just around the corner, and you can dinghy or even walk as far down as Savannah Bay. The scenery is stunning, and it breaks up a sail to Gorda Sound if the weather is a little too much for you.
Now that I’ve come to the end of this three-part series about my favorite anchorage in the Caribbean, I should highlight which one of them is my No. 1. With not very much hesitation, I’d have to say Cumberland Bay in St. Vincent.
At the end of six charters and a transatlantic passage, we found ourselves anchored in here for a week trying to get some rest. We did a couple of hikes and, as always, hired a couple of the locals to work on the boat. My friend “ Brother ” slept in the cockpit at night, so I didn’t have to worry about anything untoward happening, and by the end of the week, the crew and myself were back on track and ready for the sail to Antigua.
St. Vincent and St. Lucia were hit quite hard by Hurricane Thomas, but the spirit of the locals and their efforts to reestablish themselves is admirable. The trails through the forests and to waterfalls were nothing short of carnage, and a lot of attractions remained officially closed by the government. But above and beyond that, Cumberland Bay is an amazing place where a healthy mind and a healthy body prosper. I hope you go there and feel the magic of the place. It’s really quite rare!
As I close this article, I’d like to say thanks for all the nice feedback from my articles. I write these pieces because I want you, the readers, to know about the beautiful places I’m so lucky to get to see and photograph. You’ve got to read about them to know about them, and I’m happy it’s here in the pages of Yacht Essentials.
Capt. Warren East has been sailing since age 7. After finishing university in 1994, he started sailing commercially and found himself hooked on catamarans shortly after. He now stands at the helm of S/V Wonderful, which he was commissioned to design and project manage back in 2001. Warren holds a commercially endorsed 3000 tonnes (class 4) license awarded by the Maritime Coastguard Agency. As of December 2008, Warren has completed 311 charters around the world and has sailed close to 180,000 miles. www.yacht-wonderful.com