Anguilla - St. Barth - St. Martin  Nov/ Dec 2016 Vessel:                                Catamaran Bali 4.3 Provider:                             Dream Yacht Charter Broker:                                Argos Yachting Charter Crew & Pessangers:          Jan, Britta, Mirja, Georg and the kids: Carl (3.5yrs) and Louise (17m) We were initially after a Oceanis 54. The prevailing oceanic swell, the better upwind sailing capabilities and the better overall handling of a mono hull remains the absolute pros for choosing a mono vers. a cat. Argos Yachting Charter explained us though that the condition of the Oceanis wasn’t very good anymore (as per clients feedbacks) and recommended to opt for the above Bali 4.3 Cat which was just 1yr old and would have a water maker. We agreed on that then since we were late in the booking and were happy to have an orderly boat instead. We ordered pre provisioning and agreed not to book a taxi pick up from the airport. Response time and communication with Argos went very well. As usual we took a flight with Air France FRA/ CDG/ St.Martin which was easy and smooth as usual. Once arrived there it took some we were picked up by a taxi albeit that wasn’t booked. We used it though since the guy was waiting for us and for sure would have been left with empty hands if we would have refused. DYC didnt charage us though given the misunderstanding and the fact that provisioning wasn’t in place. Moreover we were only able to get on the Cat after 5:30 pm due to repairs necessary. Not ideal with 2 kids after the long journey. Albeit the Bali 4.3 was well equipped with water maker, generator, 2 GPS screens (one with SD-chip only though), 2 radios and the usual gear we were pretty annoyed about some “functionalities” : The Bali 4.3 Cat was the worst cat we ever sailed (vers. Lagoon and Lipari). Construction was very bad. o Shower Water was draining into the bilge and pumped out from there (one can imagine what remains in the bilge and how difficult this is to clean) o Up wind was terrible o The lift for back wall (see the specs of the cat at the manufactures website) was usually blocked and locking the door at the roof of the cabin was very difficult and only feasible if 2 men would a apply violence. o American fridge moved a lot in the swell and did fall over once almost (it has some scratches though which shows that it did at least once) o The fact that there is no net in the bow seems to be nice when moored up in front of a beach but in heavy swell the can be quickly tons of water if the waves climb up there. I wouldn’t go for a serious sail with this boat! o The screws of the mast foot inside the cabin were not able to go in since the welding joint did block that - another prove of bad craft o Ropes were difficult to reach even though all gathered at the bridge o No winch at the davids for the dingi o No sound system o No can holder or store box at the bridge o Dream Yacht Charter at Marina Port Royale, St Martin o Clearly the worst charter base of all 5 DYC we came across o Maintenance of the boat was very bad Pulley block at the dinghy david was broken and not replaced All reefing lines were very badly going (the worst ever albeit they said, this automatic reefing lines never work – which is truly wrong) One lath was broken which made upwind sailing almost impossible water gauge and likewise fuel gauge broken fridge not secured no foul weather gear no hold for life west one bilge pump not working (terrible since the water from the shower went in there) o drunken staff at 17:30 when they parked the boat upon return (that means the guy who took over the boat from the fuel station was drunk and drank another beer when we drove to the marina plus lit a cigarette) o feedback was taken very badly and response was unfriendly o no proper boat documents (prove of ownership)  which caused problems in Port Louis customs and on the dutch side at Saint Marteen o they admitted that the boat isn’t good at all but then put all defects on the boat and not taking any responsibility o fellow sailors who did return from their charter the same day we did reported similar complains about the local DYC base. This were draining hatches, no support on troubles while being in Anguilla, very bad maintainance of another Bali 4.3 which was actually newer than us even... The cat was coming with a fully automated watermaker, generator, AC (working), very good batteries, engines all working proper, outboard in top condition, dingy in the right size. This is a clear pro of the cat and should be outlined likewise here! Since provisioning was delivered on the day, they were happy to deliver them by dingy after we left the Marina already. We appreciated that service. It seems that Argos did mess it up – we did email them for a debrief after our holidays but there was no response. That’s surprising since communication was always timely and prompt while we were booking the holidays. Not happy with them. We think the kids did enjoy the trip with the more specious cat though. Except when we were sailing. Its in the the cats nature to move like a cork on the water. Not only that it shakes like that any other bigger waves crashes against the platform and makes frightening noise – at least for a child. That wasn’t the case on a sailboat a year before. So in this respect it was an interesting experience to test a cat in open waters. The trip was chosen very carefully and defensive in terms of sailing vers beach. We decided to remain on the Anguilla-St Martin-St Barth-Shelf and avoid the long passages to St Kitts and Nevis or Antigua. And there were a lot of fab beaches around here. Port Marina Royal – Baie de Grand Case – St Martin Leaving Port Marina Royal with a Cat means that one has to pass 2 bridges. They follow specific time tables but do not necessarily open when not radioed before like 15mins in advance. So that needs to be accounted for when leaving and returning into the Lagoon. The trip wasn’t remarkable else wise – rounding the the western point of St Martin and then motoring up to the north is a boring exercise while the island shades off the wind. The Baie de Grand Case doesn’t offer any nice beaches but a good anchoring if you are in transit. Baie de Grand Case – Ilet Pinel/ Baie Oriental - St Martin It’s a bit of a fight against waves and wind once passing the northern tip of St Martin. Since we had NNE we were able to cross a  fair amount to reach Ilet Pinel. The reef on the south of the island is somewhat full of bouyes and well to see during day time. The entire area is very shallow though but if one anchors in 3m of water behind (west of) the reef its well protected from swell coming from east or north. We had chanding conditions in sea state and wind direction but felt very comfortable here. Though it did feel that we did drag a couple of meters but that might have been since we did change the heading by 100 degrees or more during our time here (with lots of chain). The beach is very nice but now full of beach chairs and 2 restaurants. In the more eastern direction the restaurant has great lobster and good drinks – much better then what one would think of. We were there in the off season so it wasn’t to crowded. And there is a patch with no sun chairs so if you want to use your own gear –do it there. Ilet Pinel/ Baie Oriental - St Martin – Ile Fourchue It’s a battle to go out of here and to get free of the reefs around this area before setting sails. The waves come in over shallow water which is a fight indeed. Once free the passage to St Barth is just 18nm which is usually not big deal. However given the problems with the davids for the dingy and the more than expected waves the dingy took a lot of water and eventually capsized and dragged through the water. We cut all lines but the main, took in all sails before and pulled in behind the cat seeking shelter at Ile Fourchue. That went very well and the place is a nice one if you fance a hike. Beach not so cool but as said great shelter and a kind of untouched area. There are mooring bouys. Ile Fourchue – Fort Gustavia Marina – St Barth The Marina is not only busy but is well exposed to wind from any direction which can give you strong gusts moreover. Radio the marina when you come in. They send you to the east part, i.e. right hand side after the mooring field. Anchore out and stern to the wall. I would keep a 3m distance to the concrete wall given the swell. Its nasty to go with the dingy to the water except you are an excellent jumper but its much safer this way (rather than banging with the stern against the wall). St Barth stands on its own though there is good provisioning near the capitanerie. Great restaurants in vicinity and one 1 star restaurant called “La Guerite” which is very price but stylish and posh and tasty moreover. That’s a nice change from the easy food you may fancy while being at anchor.  It gets very noisy the later the evening is getting thanks to the vibes send by the DJ. Fort Gustavia Marina – Anse Du Colombier - St Barth  Splendid beach right at the north western point of St Bath. Some superyachts send their staff  to build them a day bed with all specs by leaving the big boat in the marina. Some day visitors come as well around especially on the weekends. The beach is big enough though to digest them all. Well protected from the wind. The swell at the beach makes a landing of the fully loaded dingy slightly challenging. If you want to build sand castles – then go there. Anse Du Colombier - St Barth   - Ile Tintamarre There are no hidden obstacles on the way there and the wheiind is pushing you usually into the right direction. Swell comes from the beam – bad for a cat but just nothing for a mono. When the weather is rainy the Isle is deserted. If not a lot of boats to come by and fix themselves to the buoys. The beach is just great but at times one only sees swimming plastic since there are so many boats right in front of the beach. If the weather is unsteady it feels that there are better places to wait for easier conditions. Ile Tintamarre – Marigot/ Port Louis – St Martin Nothing special here – its just the place for customs to clear out. Water is clean and a jump from the platform comes easy. The area is busy given the market during day time – in the evening we didn’t feel to well there and stayed rather on the boat. At the customs, knock at the door and wait. The guy comes when he is free and let you into his fridge-temperature-office. He seems to be a bit rough but actually he appears to be friendly and helpful. He doesn’t mind a tip. Port Louis – St Martin – Road Bay – Anguilla The chart tells you that it should be ok to go through Anguillita Island and Anguilla but we decided to go just around of the two on the south west side. The wakes are breaking and the water is “boiling” in between and thus we didn’t feel tempted for the cut. Once arriving at Road bay keep the channel free for the industrial area. We didn’t push to far and anchored probably 300m outside still in great comfort. Clearance is still friendly and welcoming. You need to pay a “healthy” cruising permit of 50US$ per day which may reduce the amount of visitors. Thank fully one can check in and out at the same time even if one stays for 2 nights. The beach restaurants are good in quality (at least the second from the right). Beach is nice and the best one of the 2 bays where you can drop your anchor.  Road Bay – Crocus Bay – Anguilla The beach is occupied by 50% of the restaurant. They don’t mind if you use the jetty for your dinghy it seems. Once at the beach the right hand side of the beach is free of sun chairs but sparkled with stones and plastic rubbish sadly. Though in the bay one is seeing many many tortoise. The restaurant in the hotel is outstanding. Friendly, great foot and amazing atmosphere incl. Jazz band. Crocus Bay- Anguilla – Simson Baai – Saint Marteen – Port Royale Marina Depending on the wind and swell direction it can be a small but bumpy ride. Once arrived at Simson Baai, drop anchore and go to the Simson Bridge office. That’s at the little wall in front of the bridge on the left hand side. Fix your dingy and walk inside. Bring all papers with you. You need to radio the bridge to make them aware that you want to pass once the opening time is approaching. If you are to late, not waiting right in front of the bridge and alone, they let you go back and wait for another time. No mercy.