Serafina of Maldon, Najad 460 Blue water cruising with Rob and Sarah BellSerafina of Maldon a Najad 460 owned by Rob and Sarah Bell
Blue water cruising on a Najad yacht with Rob and Sarah Bell

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Welcome to our Yachting & Cruising Resources section.

We are always happy to make recommendations where we have received good service in some way and so we have tried to list below the people and companies, by country in case it helps anyone looking for this information.

We do not recommend people lightly and so these places have all done us proud. Please tell us if you find differently.

Anyone looking to cross the Atlantic might find Sarah's provisioning notes useful. These can be downloaded (pdf files) from our downloads section.

ocean Cruising Club We are members of the Ocean Cruising Club.  Click here to visit the Club's website.

 

General
UK

Mediterranean Sea
Greece
Turkey
Malta
Gibraltar

Atlantic Ocean

Porto Santo
Madeira
Lanzarote
Gran Canaria
Tenerife
Cape Verde islands

Caribbean Sea

Doyles Guides

Barbados
St Lucia
Martinique
Dominique
Guadeloupe
Antigua
St Vincent & The Genadines
Grenada
St Maarten
Anquilla
St Barts
St Kitts
British Virgin Islands
US Virgin Islands

United States of America

Norfolk, Virginia
Washington DC
Newport, Rhode Island
Boston
Portland

General:

weather forecast, forecasting, reports, software, weather, long range, local, 10, 7, 14 day, world weather reports, news, free trial
Local weather forecasts - Moving Weather - weather forecasting software that is so advanced the best way for you to find out how good it is would be to try it for yourself - FREE!

Sea Space Solutions Canvas Bags
Sea Space make stylish, hardwearing canvas rail and railing bags, storage bags, laundry bags, peg bags, mini bags, document bags and cases, shower bags, washbags, perfect for yachts, boats, motor boats and all outdoor activities. Moshe and Claudia also do wonderful canvas work - see under Turkey.

Forward looking sonar. Echopilot Platinum
Really useful bit of kit and first class backup service. www.echopilot.com

LED navigation lights. Lopo Light are people I have to recommend, not only because they make excellent low wattage LED lights, but their customer service is outstanding and when they give a 5 year guarantee, that is exactly what they mean. www.lopolight.com

Rocna Anchor: This is a tricky subject all of a sudden as we have now discovered that all is not well with the production of this item. Our Rocna anchor is outstanding and we would never have any hesitation in recommending it to anyone with various provisos. BUT it seems that production at some stage was switched to another country and the resulting anchors are very substandard. They are lightweight with very much thinner shafts that can bend and presumably fail as well. There are ways of recogising this issue and I would be happy to expand on this if anyone is interested in contacting me.

Anchor Rescue: Little know American device that is both wonderfully simple and very effective. But above all I can recommend this company for their utterly outstanding customer service. Various national postal systems conspired to cause us difficulties in obtaining our unit, but the company were just fantastic in dealing with this and could not have been more helpful and understanding, not to mention very proactive. In addition we had a few operational issues and again they could not have been more understanding, helpful and swift to respond. 10/10 for that. www.anchorrescue.com

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UK:

Hamble Point Marina

Yachting Sports can do just about everything you want. Very good at coming up with ideas to solve problems - and everything on a boat is a compromise anyway. Ask for Derek Moreland and insist on Nick doing the work! 023 8045 6050 derek@yachtingsports.co.uk

Aztec Marine are the boys for anything electrical or electronic. Dave Freeman who is something of a legend around these parts is the man you need to speak to and try overlook that he is Cornish and you will have no problems. 023 8045 5112 davef@aztecmarine.co.uk

Gas Systems - Marine Systems Engineering who are really David Stopard and his van are first class when it comes to anything at all to do with gas systems. Your biggest problem will be getting him to talk to you in the first place and then do the job in the second place! Lovely bloke but far too busy because he bloody good at his job. Frustrating but worth trying. 02380 83941. Mobile (best option) 07971 624 295

Drinking Water Filters - Seagul IV. There is only one place to go for this General Ecology. Call Harald Charters on 01293 400 644 or email charters416@aol.com or visit www.purewateronline.co.uk. Forget ever buying bottled water again. makes the big gin palace crews look so stupid as they struggle to carry the cases of water! This filter cleans up all potable water and will save you a fortune and so much grief as you cruise anywhere in the world.

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Greece:

Athens/Piraeus
Adonis
is a marine engineer (Yanmar, Volvo and Mastervolt) who speaks pretty good English, is very competent and is extremely pleasant and diligent.
Phone +30 6977 233 161

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Turkey:

Istanbul - Marinturk City Port Istanbul (Pendik Marina to you and me) Still under construction whilst we were there, but nearing completion (July 2009) and very pleasant and helpful staff and just a 3 TR train ride from the city attractions. Also just a few minutes from Sabiha Godek airport (Easyjet). 0090 5327422 381

Kusidasi Marina Restaurant on the quay. You need to folow the quay round from the reception heading past the tennis courts and hardstanding area. Brilliant food and great service and not too busy as it is so hard to find!

Yacht marine - Marmaris

This is the place to leave your boat for the winter. Huge and sometimes a bit impersonable perhaps, but the marina is well run and has every facility for yachtsmen doing what we do. Excellent on site restaurant as well as a staff canteen you can use which is very basic but sound food at a fixed price, 7 YTL (3 euro) per head in 2010) which is just the job if you are trying to live on the boat whilst it is out of the water at the end or start of the season. On the social front there are so many boats based here throughout the winter that there is a thriving community and all sorts going on with frequent social events. The bar has a happy hour to rival any we have seen!

There are also any number of very good companies based here and in Marmaris itself who can do just about any job you can name.

We can fully recommend Demir Marine here. They are a large and well run outfit and whilst you need to keep on their case all the time (never make the mistake of letting these companies work on your boat when you are not there) they do very good work. not the cheapest but out here you tend to get what you pay for! Stainless steel work, rigging, carpentry and electrics etc. Pretty much the full range. Ask for Ilhan or John.
DEMIR Marine 0090 252 422 0055 ilhandemir@demirmarine.com or visit www.demirmarine.com

Boat Electrics. We bought cable and bits from Aydin Marine (ask for Mesut Silin) who were really helpful and full of advice and suggestions.

Raymarine have an agent at yacht marine who are first class (but very busy).

Sailmakers: Moby marine who are agents for Elvstrom Sails are very prompt and effecient. They laundered and looked after our sails for the winter and made us a new gennaker of which we are very proud. www.mobymarine.com.tr 0090 252 419 2351. Ask for Yelin but they mostly speak good English.

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Malta:

Great place and some first class engineers etc. (and they all speak proper English!)

Computers:

Brilliant little shop and more importantly a workshop where they can repair and recover most problems!
Link 2000,bate Rigord Street, Ta' Xbiex, XBX 1128
Phone: 356 21 - 339165
Email: info@link2000.com.mt

Raymarine:

RLR Yachting are the agents in Malta and at the time of writing this, Matthew Gusman is the operations manager. They are your first port of call for anything to do with Raymarine and they on the front near the bridge to Manoile (pronounced Manuel) Island.
156 Ta' Xbiex Seafront, Gizra GZR 102o
'Phone:00356 2133 1192
Email: matthew@rlryachting.com
www.rlryachting.com

But you really need to know that the man they then call out to your boat is called Kurt Casapinta and his mobile is 00356 9942 9584. Kurt is an electronics wizard and appears to be trained by Raymarine, Mastervolt and a host of others, so for most electrical and electronic faults he is the man you need, but getting hold of him is another thing.
I recommend using email first kurt.marinetech@maltanet.net

Marine Electronics:

See Kurt Casapinta above, but also we had fantastic service in fixing our Icom SSB unit from:
Medcomms Ltd. Their best engineer for such things was Stephan and I cannot praise him highly enough. These people are agents for Garmin etc. so between them and Kurt you have pretty much everything covered!
4 Msida Road, Gzira,
00356 2133 5521 or 00356 2133 0147
admin@medcomms.com.mt
www.medcomms.com.mt

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Gibraltar

Queensway Quay Marina
PO Box 19, Ragged Staff Wharf, Gibraltar.
Phone: (00 350) 20044700
Fax: (00 350) 20044699
qqmarina@gibraltar.gi
www.queenswayquay.com

By far and away the better of the two marinas in Gibraltar
so you do need to call or email them in advance to secure a mooring. Very handy for all the shopping, although the town is small enough that nothing is too far away. If having stuff sent out, remeber that you can get stuff sent duty free here, which is very worthwhile. more to the point the courier firms are very helpful, but most stuff sent by ordinary service will come via Spain and other points in Europe which means plenty of unreasonable delays! Worth paying extra for express.

Stainless Steel

You can get work done here, but it can be a bit dear and the quality varies. The marina can give you details as our info is out of date.

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Porto Santo

The most wonderful small island, north east of Madeira and one we would recommend everyone visits on their way south.

Big safe harbour with a small rather home-made marina in the corner, but secure and the island is a delight to see. (Open top bus ride covers the entire island in 2 hours with stops!)

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Madeira

Quinta Do Lorde Marina
A bit 'out of town' this marina, but very reasonable and well protected. Fuel and gas available.

Well worth hiring a car for the day (you can do this at a god rate through the marina office) and touring the island which is just wonderful. We had a great day out and if you combine it with some shopping in the main city of Funchal it becomes very good value too.

Phone: 291 9602000
Fax: 291 9602002
info@quintadolorde.com

Green Storm: Dufour 38.5 for charter and a house to rent
www.greenstorm.com and www.lugarinho.com
email: info@greenstorm.pt

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Canary Islands

Lanzarote

Puerto Calero
We really took to this marina and our friends on Scott-Free liked it so much they stayed for 8 weeks.
We also were happy to leave Serafina here for 4 weeks while we flew home. There are plenty of boats waiting here for the trade winds to settle in for their Atlantic crossings, so there is no shortage of folks that will keep an eye on your boat if you too want to leave it somewhere for a while and there is a proper guardianage service available as well.

Good all round protection and a great selection of shops, bars and restaurants. here is a small supermarket, but for a big shop, it is no distance in a taxi to a superstore.

Only a 15 euro taxi ride from the airport and another good place to enjoy a days car hire although nothing like as varied as Madeira.
Also a boatyard, chandlery, fishing tackle shop, Raymarine and other electronics, sailmaker - just about a full house!
Phone: 928 511285
Fax: 928 514568
reservas@puertocalero.com

Fuerteventura

Not much going for this island we felt, but we did sort of enjoy the little 'marina' at Puerto del Castillo.
Phone: 928 163514
Email: marcan@abaforum.es (don't hold your breath for a reply)

However be advised that the Atlantic Islands Pilot book has got this place all wrong! There are just 3 or four visitors moorings here and the bulk of the berths are sports fishing boats. Good protection from the North in a blow, but we assume that it would be dreadful in here if a southerly was forecast. Noisy.

Part of the marina is given over to a water zoo with several sea lions, lots of varieties of fish all of which is a bit tacky and seedy.

Good cheap bus service to the main town (Rosario) where there is a hypermarket.

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Gran Canaria

Las Palmas

We only visited Las Palmas by car during the ARC preparations and it was a real bun fight. However I expect once the ARC has left, this would be a good place to prepare. Good supermarkets that understand what you are trying to do and several chandleries, but they might well be cleaned out in late November by the ARC! The marina is sound and looks to have excellent protection from all wind directions. Very few others anywhere in the Canaries seem to protect against a southerly blow.

Pasito Blanco

This is a yacht club/marina in the south of the island and we enjoyed a few days here although there are NO shops nearby (tiny mini market onsite) and there is a strange and strong surge that gets up at high tides. Doubt it would be nice in a southerly either.

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Tenerife

Santa Cruz

Marina Santa Cruz
This is an excellent place to provision prior to an Atlantic crossing as the marina is central to this very large city which has several superb hypermarkets (Carrefour, hyperdino etc.) as well as an El Corte Ingles.

BUT it is no place to be if there is a southerly blow. If southerly winds are forecast, then get out and head for Las Palmas in Gran Canaria fast! The swell sweeps into this marina and is very dangerous with boats and pontoons being damaged in quite moderate conditions.

Chandleries:
There are at least three good chandleries here and they specialise in different things so you will need to visit all three!
Nautica Nordest, Calle San Francisco, Phone 922 24 00 64 were outstandingly helpful to us in several ways and we cannot praise them enough.

Blanco (I do not have the address, but the marina will give you their leaflet) were very helpful too and stock a lot more than you can see.

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Cape Verde Islands

Sao Vincente Island

Marina Midelo:
Full marina set up here with power and water and internet. Good tax free fuel.
Food shopping is minimal and fresh fruit and veg is dire.
www.marinamindelo.com (They never replied to any of our emails, but apart from when the ARC swings by, they seem to have plenty of room!)

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Caribbean Sea

Doyles Guides

Barbados
St Lucia
Martinique

Dominica
Iles des Saintes
Guadeloupe
Antigua
St Vincent
Grenadines
Grenada
St Maarten
Anguilla

St Barts
St Kitts
Tortola, BVI

Lion Fish

Doyles Guides

These excellent guides are very much the bibles of the Caribbean island s for sailing. Informative, interesting and above all, essential for finding the best bays and coves and ancorages as well as navigating customs, immigration and all the other excitements of Caribbean sailing. Brilliant little chartlets and aerial photos make these indispensible.

BUT do not be fooled by the British Virgin Islands edition!! This is in a different class and a VERY much lower one. Clearly written for the charter business it is a very pale shadow of its stablemates elsewhere in the Caribbean. It lacks any clear information and the chartlets are actually worse than useless. Beware.

Another important issue to be aware of when buying these guides is the issue of updates. New editions of the Windward Island edition are published in November of even numbered years and the Leewards in odd-numbered years.The very helpful website carries updates inbetween but then you do not always have access to the web, so be warned as things do change out there.

Barbados

Medical Emergency Clinic: 3rd Avenue, Belleville, St Michaels, Bridgetown, Barbados.
Phone: (246) 220 6121.

Port St Charles:
Very easy to check into Barbados here and we recommend you do so, however the visitors berths (Superyacht berths actually) are very expensive and pretty bouncy from the non-stop swell. Not the relief you might want after several weeks at sea.

Carlisle Bay:
The only real anchorage which is just off Bridgetown. Noisy disco until 4.00 am every night. Pretty rolly so you need to get close to the beach if possible. You can at least take your dinghy right into the town centre.

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St Lucia

Rodney Bay Marina:
First Class marina which is also a port of entry. Very reasonable rates and a plethora of bars and restaurants. Several chandleries and pretty much all the services you could want, including gas refils.

Vision Lewis: Vision is a freelance worker who is very good at washing and polishing boats, varnishing and general boat care. He and Meshana did a first class job on Serafina whilst we were in Rodney Bay Marina and they are hard working and reliable. He also can act as an unofficial island tour guide.
email: koolmeshana@hotmail.com
Phone Vision on : St Lucia 5190278

Elvis Ambrose is a very friendly helpful chap who also has a wealth of talents. In our case he fixed our outboard engine, but he came recommended as being able to do all manner of jobs and is very reliable.
(local phone: 284 3989) Claims to be good at varnishing, gel coat repairs and underwater repairs as well as an agent for ourboard and diesel engines. (I suspect he has a friend who actually does this bit!)


Matinique

Le Marin

Stainless steel welding/fabrication I can wholly recommend Tony Crater, Usine du Marin, 97290, Le Marin, Tel 0596 74 66 60 / 0696 25 65 49.
Scruffy workshop close to the boatyard area and near 'Leader Price' Supermarket which has its own dinghy dock.

Canvas work we used Didier and his wife Maria at Voiles & Assistance who are based in the boatyard at Le Marin, beneath the (closed) restaurant. 33 (0) 596 74 88 32

St Pierre

Seemingly exposed bay, but for the most part we have always found it very pleasant. You can anchor close to the pier and just row ashore.

Customs They are based as such in the Tourish Info Office halfway up the hill (one road back from the front) on the left as you face the town from the sea. Hours seem to be just 0900 hrs to 1500 hours, but this varies. They are no longer based in the internet cafe on the sea front.

Fort de France

The main town here and has everything you could possibly need - if your French is up to it. Nespresso have an outlet at Centre Commercial La Veranda, Rond Point du Vietnam Heroique, 97200 Fort du France - Tel: 05-96-62-32-77 and an office at Lamentin Tel: 05-96-57-29-21


Dominica

Prince Rupert Bay

Customs are in a modern building tucked away behind what appers to be a scrap yard on the right hand end of the town frontage. there is a pier you can use.

No rubbish can be taken ashore, just ask your boat boy to deal with it, but better still take it with you to your next stop.

Indian River trip This is probably worth while, but not brilliant value! It helps if you have an enthusiastic boat boy which we were lucky enough to have, but we saw some who were very lack lustre.

We have not done any other trips on this lovely island yet, but plan to do a lot more when we next visit.

Isles Des Saintes

Wonderful set of islands and the town of Bourg Des saintes is an absolute must for a visit. Just a stroll around the houses and shops is fun enough. But touristy of course, but still worth the time.

Napoleon's Fort this is not as big a walk as it seems at first although quite a steep road. Well worth the effort as you get superb views and the fort itself has been very well restored and is an interesting museum as well.

Guadeloupe

Point a Pitre is the main harbour at the southern end of Guadeloupe and in sailing terms a bit tricky to get to as it is pretty much upwind of the Saintes. However if you are heading north from Dominica we found we could lay a course direct and had a cracking sail all the way. (This then allows you another easy sail to Marie Gallant, from which you can then go downwind to The Saintes) Sounds a bit tortuous but it works. However there is a big question mark in our minds about the value of visiting Point a pitre in the first place. It has a few chandleries and various other services if you are in need, but the anchorages are fairly rolly, mainly from the big boat traffic coming past all day. The marina looked OK but it does seem to resemble (and smell) like an open toilet which rather put us off that option altogether. But Marie Gallant is a great little island to visit and if you plan ahead a bit and nip ashore first ting you can hire a scooter for the day which is more than adequate for seeing the entire island and spending time on some wonderful beaches.

Deshaies is at the north west tip of Guadeloupe and it is a great stopping point. the anchorage is very safe and big enough to accomodate all the boats choosing to call in. Holding is a bit patchy, but if you take it slowly and do it properly, you will always get a good hold eventually. It does always blow like hell in there, but that makes it comfortable heat wise! The town is great and has plenty of restaurant options and a rrasonable Spar supermarket. WiFi good and there is an excellent botanical garden open to the public (at a price) just above the anchorage.

Hire a car and tour the island. Not outstanding, but in very good repair so to speak and the centre has some wonderful rainforest etc.

Antigua

Antigua Rigging did a great job for us in replacing our forestay tangs under a recal warranty by Selden. They were fast to respond to emails and nothing seemed to much trouble. But a small word of warning... George the manager appears to promise a lot, but in truth they deliver rather less. They had promised to do all sorts of jobs for us, but none of this was communicated to the head rigger Shaun who came to do the work.! Shaun was great and made huge efforts to get the job done without removing the mast. he also did a rigging check and was fun and very polite and helpful.

Catamaran Marina, Falmouth harbour is where we had to go for Antigua rigging to work on the mast. They were not very helpful and the dockmaster was downright rude to Sarah. The main lady in the office was the least jovial person we had met in quite a while and her attitude rubbed off on the other staff. This was sort of evidenced on the day we left when she was absent and suddenly everyone became a good deal more friendly! They have a cute trick for taking serious money off you if you want to plug in to shore power. They use the US plugs (unique this far south) and happily sell you the correct plug at a price roughly 300% above chandlery prices on St Maarten to the north.

Marionics are electronics specialists headed up by Arougoo Adams. Tel: 268-460-1780.
Arougoo was very helpful, polite and prompt, but SSB might just be something he knows less than he claims. We should perhaps have used Cap from The Signal Locker, (English Harbour - Nelson's Dockyard) but Arougoo was based beside the Cat marina and was available!

Jolly Harbour Marina is a bit tired really, but has reasonable facilities and offers good protection in a blow. William the dockmaster is great fun and very helpful and the office staff are largely very cheerful souls - especially Jay. Friday and Saturday nights are long and loud which is worth avoiding. There is a good supermarket close by (Epicurian) which has a fair selection of stuff and probably the islands most miserable staff and security team.

You can clear in and out of Antigua in Jolly harbour, to remeber to take your boat to the customs quay when checking in. You cannot dock in the marina and then stroll round!! Use E sea Clear here online and in advanceor else you will be filling in forms for a good hour. Same when clearing out.

St Vincent & The Grenadines

Bequia

Caribbean Schooner. Friendship Rose is a wooden schooner built locally and it runs day trips to Mustique and Tobago Cays amonst other places. Very well run and although not cheap, it makes a great day out and a visit to Mustique is one of the things you have to do one way or another! www.friendshiprose.com

 

Grenada

Le Phare Bleu Marina We really enjoyed our stay at this wonderful little resort. Pontoon moorings with lazy lines and you need to be aware than in any sort of southerly it gets fairly unpleasant in here with a fair old swell, however the place is still worth the visit. Very helpful staff, Quirky converted Swedish Lightship is the marina office and shower/toilet block. Great beach bar and restaurant with a fresh water swimming pool on site as well free use of sailing dingies on the beach. Small but more than adequate mini market and various other services such as engineering ((Palm Tree Marine. lucy@palmtreemarine.com ), sailmaking and car hire etc. Fuel available at all berths. Probably the cheapest marina fees we have found anywhere in the Caribbean. www.lepharebleu.com contact@lepharebleu

Port Louis Marina Situated in the lovely harbour of St George's this is a modern concrete marina with the finest showers and loos in the western world! Safe moorings and good supermarket and Island Waterworld Chandlery on the doorstep. A very cheap and FAST bus ride to the capital itself.

Hog Island Anchorage Great and secure anchorage used for hurricane hiding. Beach bar operates, but only just! Noisy fun Sunday evening BBQ and band by the bar.

Spice Island Marine First rate boatyard and storage yard. Good security and very helpful friendly staff. There are a few things that you need to know if you are planning to haul out there, so feel free to email me.

We were very lucky as we had Lesley keeping an eye on Serafina all the way through the summer. She went on board and opened her up to keep her well aired every week and this made all the difference. Lesley can be contacted by email, but you will need to email me to obtain this for security/spam reasons.

Budget Marine This is next door to Spice Island Marine and is a well stocked chandlery, but in addition I have to make mention of the very well informed and fantastically helpful staff. The best we have seen for a VERY long time, if ever!

De Big Fish This restaurant and bar is right next to Spice Island marine as well. Run by Rikky and Kim this bar is a great blend of social setting, good eating and fun.Very much the focal point for all the local yachties, either moored in the bay or ashore in the yard. Frequent live music is varied and good, but not intrusive. Rikky is also very helpful if you are hauling out and you might want to make yourself known to him as soon as you can.........

St Maarten

Tax free centre for yachting enterprises. Pretty much everything you might need is available in some way here, but you do need to look carefully to get the best deals.

The principle mooring area is the lagoon which has two entrances/bridges. We used the Dutch side as the French side is pretty shallow and certainly we would be pushing our luck there drawing 2.2m. Popular way of doing things seems to be to enter the lagoon on the Dutch side then anchor in the middle of the lagoon area (in the lea of Witches Tit), then take the dinghy to the French side and clear in through their customs. Much cheaper if not very fair. Not much happening on the French side generally, but there are points of interest.

On the Dutch side there are loads of useful shops etc. Budget and Island Water World have their main shops here and both give substantial discounts if you simply open an account with each of them.

Quantum sails (http://www.stmaartensails.com) Rob Gilders, were really helpful and did some excellent canvas work for us on time and to an agreed cost.

Lagoon Marina, might be a bit of a misnomer as it is barely a quay, but they did us a very good deal for a few days stay whilst we sorted things out.

There are good supermarkets, two cinemas and pretty much all you could want, but labour costs are very high so beware just hoping to get major jobs done here and expecting a sensible price!

La Sucriere is the finest bakery this side of anywhere and it is on the west side of the southern end of the laggon, almost opposite Lagoon marina.

But the thing you really must do is listen to the cruisers net at 7.30am on channel 14. (If you moniter 16 they tend to announce when it is about to start and name the channel.) Mike, who is based at Shrimpies Laundry on the French side, runs the net and it really is one of the best anywhere we have been. They are happy to help and answer all questions and there are a host of experts amongst the resident cruisers so you are never short of at least one set of helpful answers.

Anguilla

Very little to say about this lovely little island. Customs and Immigration are very friendly and helpful and be careful how much notice to take of the guide books when it comes to paying for access to the national park areas. It is all a bit hit and miss and although we played by the rules, the customs officers discounted what we owned up to 'for being honest' which suggestes that they do not expect it. Certainly the fixed buoys that you are expected to pay top dollar for are very poor and frankly we did not dare use them when it was blowing hard.

We anchored for several days in Crocus Bay and the snorkelling was very good indded and we even saw rays, lobsters and various other unusual species - sadly including the Lion Fish which is so huge a potential problem out here.

St Barts

Almost totally European and frankly rather an enigma out in the Caribbean. We hired a car at great rates and enjoyed the trip around.

Gustavia is the main harbour and both expensive and pretty rolly, so like most normal people we anchored outside which is free. Our spot clos to Trois Islets gave access to some stunning snorkelling. WiFi is beamed out to the anchorage, but strangely not by the harbour, but from the commercial harbour. It is free, but you need a code which is given freely to you, but you have to take a dinghy over to the fuel dock and speak nicely into a hidden microphone, which is all a bit odd. European gas available also at this dock, but very expensive.

Sarah enjoyed the shops which are pretty upmarket and pricey, but best of all is the airport which you will just have to go and see. Only small aircraft can come in here and you will soon see why.....

Columbier Bay is at the western end of the island and makes a nice place to stay. Mooring buoys are plentiful and free.

St Kitts

Basse Terre is the main town and there is a marina there called Port Zante. It is very basic and not especially cheap, but the anchorage was very rolly when we visited.

Security is a big issue here and generally because of this it is a safe place to visit we found with everyone especially friendly. Like everywhere else it suffers from Cruise ships, but then they keep the economy moving. So once you get clear of the terminal (and the very friendly customs and immigration staff) you soon find yourself in the real town which is delightful.

We caught a bus out to Fort Brimstone which is a UNESCO heritage site and well worth a visit. Forget taxis or car hire etc. and just use the buses as they are good value and you meet the locals!

White House Bay is a great anchorage and we found a free wifi point which is remarkable as there are no houses at all.

British Virgin Islands

Tortola is the main island and has most of the professional services.

Nanny Cay Marina impressed us hugely when they helped us with an overnight stop so we could get our damaged mainsail repaired. The manager and dockmaster were both incredibly helpful and obliging and we were impressed by the standards of maintenance and service. The showers were the very best we have seen anywhere bar none! They are very busy which is no surprise but well worth trying if you need a mooring. There is a small Budget marine chandlery there and the Quantum Sails loft (284 494 1124) run by Kevin Wrigley were kind enough to rush our repair through even though they were clearly very busy.

Customs & Immigration in Road Town, Tortola were not at all helpful or interested. I recommend that you should seek to clear in at Sopers Hole or Jost Van Dyke or even Spanish Town (Virgin Gorda).

Supermarket (Riteway) behind Wickhams Cay II Marina is excellent, but access is tricky. We anchored beside the cruise ships and took the dinghy into the marina and walked across the road. Check with the marina before you leave the dinghy as they do not always like this! There is also a nice French Deli behind the marina on the way to the supermarket.

We hired a car from the airport for a day (left boat at Trellis bay) and this was OK, but not a great day out compared to most islands.

Great harbour, Jost Van Dyke has mooring buoys, but also plenty of room to anchor. Dinghy to any of the dinghy docks and there are customs and immigration (very helpful and swift) and Foxy's bar which may have seen better times... We took a taxi ($5) each way to White Bay and the Soggy Dollar Bar. You have to have one (or two) of their Painkillers - although I am not too sure why!

Great harbour, Peter Island is a curious name for what is just a big bay. It is very deep but if you like snorkelling you have to stop here a few days. The eastern shore is a superb spot to swim with all manner of aquatic life on view. Good protection from most winds and swell and there is even faint wifi available if you are lucky from the resort in the next door bay. We loved it here and kept coming back. Peter Island Resort is in the next bay and also in Deadman's Bay. They are happy to welcome boaters to their bar and restaurants and although rather expensive, the quality of the food and the wonderful service is an experience to be enjoyed. Also free wifi.

[Deliverence is a brilliant, friendly and very helpful service that operates in these bays (Norman, Peter and Cooper Islands) and is a boat that calls round once a day and will take away bags of rubbish (a couple of $ for a bag) and has some wonderful fresh cakes and bread and other staples on sale. You can also call them on Channel 16 or phone: 1 284 542 2181.]

The Bight, Norman Island, is another large and well protected but deep bay. Festooned with mooring buoys, it still has sections where you can anchor for free. The attraction here, is just around the corner where you can nip in your dinghy and tie to a specially provided line between two buoys, then snorkell in some outstanding water and underwater seascapes. there are three caves you can swim into as well, but our advice is go early! The world and his mate come here and ignore all the instructions and it is not much fun. But first thing is great although the sun is not quite high enough to show it at its best.

Marina Cay is a small island and bar etc. close to Trellis Bay. Plenty of room to anchor but frankly we would advise giving it a miss as it was expensive and they did not care one bit! Trellis does mean picking up a buoy, but is just 400 yards max from the airport if you have flights to meet. Also there are some great bars and superb shops along the beach and on the island (The Last Resort).

Cooper Island was OK, but we took a buoy here and did not use the shore facilities so we cannot comment really.

Virgin Gorda. Now this island has a lot going for it! The baths are a natural wonder which you just have to visit. Get there early (6.30am) and pick up a buoy. Then you can have a relaxing morning both swimming in through these incredible stones/boulders and riding the swells as they surge through the gaps and into blow holes. A fabulous swimming experience. then swim ashore and walk through the land side of this maze of passageways and pools. A good morning's entertainment.

Spanish Town is the main town on Virgin Gorda and it does not have a whole lot going on, but there is Virgin Gorda Marina which has a small mall and a fair supermarket on site. You can anchor outside in the bay (or pick up a buoy) and take the dinghy into the marina to do your shopping and customs if you need to.

North Sound, Virgin Gorda is a huge protected bay with endless anchoring opportunities depending absolutely on whether you are feeling sociable or not.

Saba Rock hosts the best bar (happy hour 4 - 6 pm) and a good restaurant (ask for the bar meal list if you are on a budget). Happy staff and a great ambiance. They have mooring buoys if you want and your $25 also gets you 200l of water and a bag of ice. ! Bitter End Resort provides a posh alternative (at a cost) but is fun all the same and worth a wander round. Treverick Bay looked very nice, but we never actually went in there. We simply found that you can anchor off the beach on Prickly Island, close to Saba Rock and get free wifi and swim in clear water. We loved the place and sat out some strong winds in complete comfort there. DO NOT be tempted to get a taxi as they are ridiculously expensive. ($60 for a return trip to Spanish Town from Bitter End - all of 6 miles). There are ferries to Tortola, and Saba Rock has a fleet of free water taxis.

US Virgin Islands

We have very limited experience of these islands, but understand that the shopping is considerably cheaper and more varied especially on St Thomas.

We spent a few days in Charlotte Amalie which was a nice big anchorage with good access to the town facilities and shops which are excellent. We did not check in here, but would do so another time as our friends on Scott-Free met us here and checked in with total ease!

St John's is where we checked in and this is not an easy place as the holding anchorage is very shallow and the customs post seemed very busy with ferries. But the island has some very nice anchorages and some excellent snorkelling. You are pretty much obliged to pick up buoys and not anchor to protect the coral, but the honesty boxes are hard to find. We had a rare burst of bad weather whilst we were there and so did not stay long, but returned to the BVI.

Lion Fish - The problem

Lionfish can grow 7+ inches per year, mature in less than a year, reproduce year-round and are capable of laying 2,000,000 eggs per year. They can eat prey up to 75% of their own body size and have venomous spines and no natural predators in the Atlantic. Report all sightings. the BVI take this really seriously and have a Reef Guardian phone line on: 284 442 7783

 

United States of America

Before going into any details of our great experiences so far, we really need to stress the importance of joining Active Captain www.activecaptain.com . This is a brilliant organisation which allows members to post their own reviews of everything and everywhere which is then moderated to make sure it is sensible! But the information and charts which is all free is superb and just so much more use than the various pilot books that are sketchy at best and mostly out of date before they reach the printers. Active Captain also have an outstanding app for the Ipad which means that you have access to EVERYTHING off line. Add in $30 of Navionics App and you have the most complete system. (You do need the Ipad with GPS and phone card) I can explain all this to anyone interested, but will not spend time here now.

Norfolk, Virginia

Well, we were spoilt here as we are members of the Ocean Cruising Club (which we thoroughly recommend to all post transatlantic sailors) and so the local OCC Port officers, Gary and Greta kindly let us use their slip (marina mooring) right on the edge of the city. They also provided transport etc. but we can at least outline some of the features here, but you might do as well to simply visit the blog (mid May 2012).

Customs here was not all that straightforward for us, but we understand that other had no trouble at all. the issue here 9and elsewhere in the USA is that they have liitle experience of foreign boats arriving and checking in, so they get a bit confused! But the real issue is about forward planning your entire trip to the USA and bearing in mind the 12 month rule: British flagged yachts have to leave the USA after 12 months and so it is important to think about where you plan to lay up, or when you plan to leave the country. The options if you plan to stay are fairly limited as you can either sail to Canada or Bermuda and this will be affected by the time of year. For example if you check in in May like us, you have to bear in mind that you are not going to want to sail to Canada the following May! So you might want to plan round where you check into the USA and when!

I have not explained this properly here and indeed we are still finding out about the different interpretations of this Federal law, so hopefully we can elaborate on this further later.

Washington DC

If you are prepared to make the long trip (motor) up the Potomac River then you can anchor in the Washington Channel, just outside the Capital Yacht Club and its marina, and in close to the Jefferson Memorial.

Capital Yacht Club were the perfect hosts and for around $15 a day they give you use of their secure dinghy dock, showers, toilets, coffee and the members are all unbelievably helpful in every way imaginable.

Baltimore


Boston, MA

Boston Harbor Shipyard & Marina, Pat Gately, Manager
256 Marginal Street, East Boston MA 02128
tel: 617 561 1400
www.bhsmarina.com email pgately@bhsmarina.com

About a quarter the rate of other marinas in Boston. Electric & water at each floating berth.  Clean (but elderly) showers & loos.  Good laundry/dryer $1.50/$1.00 a load. Pat can order chandlery items from Kellogs (Trade marine supplier to all chandleries) catalogue and all are delivered am the following day.  She also very kindly operated (secretly) as a post box for all Rob's 60th birthday cards.  G'Day cafe/bar open on site 1100- 2200 good food (speciality Aussie pies).  All round the site are wacky art installations, spotting them is half the fun.

T (underground) is 7 mins walk away,  Boston is then just 5 mins away.  A unlimited weekly pass was $18 in 2012 (each trip is a standard $2 charge otherwise).  Shaws supermarket 15 mins walk away, taxis park outside for the return trip if laden ($6).  Santarpio's Pizza, in Chelsea Street,  is a Boston institution - very rough and ready (and rude basically, it was described to us!) be warned one pizza between two IS enough!  Also recommended but not been, Rino's, local, all fresh made Italian restaurant, in Saratoga Street.

Sightseeing musts (see blog July 2012):  Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Museum of Fine Art, Aquarium (visit after 1500 hrs when it is less busy), USS Constitution.  Shopping:  national stores in Prudential Mall, a few in amongst the ridiculously expensive ones in Copley Plaza and old-fashioned walk along a street shops in Newbury Street.  Supposedly a farmers' market (and in summer, arts and craft fair) on Wed at City Hall Plaza, Cambridge Street. 

 

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