Handbook for Caribbean Cruising

Volume 1: Eastern Caribbean



During happy hour in the Caribbean everyone discusses his or her best and worst anchorages.  That is what cruisers talk about when not talking about what is broken on their boats or the weather!  All the charts we use show nice little anchor symbols that designate a place to anchor.  Sure, you can try to find a deserted anchorage that no one knows about but Don Street has identified every possible anchorage known to man down here.  And he has done a superb job of it, just ask him. 

However, trying to find an anchorage that does not roll is quite another challenge!  Actually there are only 4 anchorages in the entire Eastern Caribbean that do not roll.  Four!!!  That is all.  If you mention any of these four you will get an unquestionable positive response.  Where are these four golden anchorages?  Read on and you will see but first let’s give some awards for the worst of the worst!

The Worst Anchorages in the Eastern Caribbean:

5. Caneel Bay, St. John – The inter-island ferries, Caneel Bay Resort ferry and MegaYachts that race by in the adjacent channel create horrendous wakes that will send your vessel pitching like a bag of rice hurled onto a truck.  Besides, this “exclusive resort” makes a point of being unfriendly to cruisers so why bother when there are so many other great anchorages surrounding this beautiful island.

4. Gustavia, St. Barths – The classic anchorages near the Fort and adjacent to St. Barth’s commercial dock will roll you incessantly.  This does not apply to the inside harbour where you can seldom get a mooring anyway so don’t even think about it.  If St. Barths were not such a fantastically French island full of beautiful people it might not be worth the trouble to stop here. 

3. Orient Bay, St. Martin – There is essentially no shelter either behind Green Cay or the reef to the southeast.  You will roll and bounce so much that it will be difficult to focus your binoculars on all the naked activity ashore.  This is unfortunate but a fact of life.  It is better to anchor in the Lagoon and take a bus, taxi or rent a car to enjoy this fantastic beach.

2. St. Pierre, Martinique – This historical anchorage will spin your boat like a top due to the wind shifts associated with Mt. Pele and the weather it creates.  Your bow anchor needs to be hooked over a precipice with your stern tacking around your dangling anchor.  It is best to rent a car and visit the museum and town when anchored at Anse Mitan or Marin.

Now for the Worst anchorage in the entire Eastern Caribbean!  The undisputed Worst Anchorage award goes to:

1. Prickly Bay, Grenada!!! – This is such a popular anchorage and we never understood why.  The first time we anchored here our rails were nearly in the water from the vicious roll that normally occurs here.  We looked around and could not believe that people were actually sitting on their boats and rocking so badly.  A friend of ours tied up to the Prickly Pear Marina dock and literally tore an automobile tire in half from the horrendous roll that stretched his docklines to their limit. The only reason to be here is because you are closer to Grand Anse where the one nice grocery store is located.  Why not go to St. Georges and get a much more peaceful anchorage?  Mt. Hartman Bay would be a nice place to stay except for the fact that a crazy Frenchman has denied cruisers access to anyplace to leave their dinghy for a trip ashore.  Hog Island or Clarke’s Court Bay might also be alternatives if there were a dinghy dock or at least a dock that could be used without paying a fee to use it!

So there you have it – the worst of the worst anchorages.  So where can you anchor in the Caribbean to get a good night’s sleep and keep your sanity? 

Here are the four anchorages that will not roll in the Eastern Caribbean:

St. Maarten/St. Martin Simpson Bay Lagoon – Undisputedly the best anchorage with the best dinghy docks, restaurants, grocery stores, transportation and night life in the entire Caribbean. 

Marin, Martinique – This harbour is protected from all weather and you can anchor nearly anywhere your draft will take you.  Best of all, you are now in France and have French food, groceries and ambience at your fingertips.  The customs officers are the best in the Caribbean and there is no fee to check in or out.  Club Med has reopened at the entrance to the harbour so you can always dinghy over and see what is going on there.  There are hiking trails, car rentals, Internet access and beaches nearby to pass the time.  It is easy to spend an entire winter cruising season in this lovely bay.

Jolly Harbour (inside), Antigua – You can get a mooring or take a slip at the marina and you will not roll here.  The friendly staff of Jolly Harbour will make your stay one you will not forget.

Rodney Bay Lagoon – You can either take a slip or anchor adjacent to the docks for a roll-free anchorage.  Shopping is located around the lagoon and the marina is first class with nearly every service you may require.

So there you have it – the best of the best and the worst of the worst.  Take your pick and enjoy some peaceful and some not so peaceful anchorages!