Posted by: rosyroadsadventures | November 22, 2011

The Anegada Passage

N 18° 03.77′   W 63° 05.31′

Simpson Bay Lagoon, Marigot, St. Martin

We’ve made it to St. Martin!!! Crossing the Anegada Passage, the seas between the Virgin Islands and Windward Islands, was nasty but could have been worse. We are glad to have that 14 hour journey behind us.

We were waiting in the North Sound, BVI’s, for an opportunity to cross. A small weather window appeared on Saturday as a cold front from the north influenced the wind speed and direction. There is no customs office in the North Sound yet (one coming soon per the locals) so checking out required a trip to Spanish Town. Bob hurried to rent a car and take care of that paperwork so that we could leave directly from the Sound. While he was gone I made sandwiches and prepped the boat.

The last two attempts to get to St. Martin had resulted in some galley breakage and I realized my stowage was getting sloppy. I stuffed plastic and cloth grocery bags between all the items in the cabinets that might shift and break and loaded the fridges with extra items so that things wouldn’t roll around inside. I tied the cabinet doors together for extra security and used non-residue duct tape to seal the ones without handles or knobs that sometimes come open when under a lot of force.

We left the North Sound around 10:00 am. It was nice to have daylight for most of the trip. We chatted with a passing sailboat early on, coming from St. Vincent, who reported decent conditions. The Anegada Passage – also sometimes noted as the Sombrero Passage – is a major shipping channel for boats headed to and from Europe. We passed two large freighters en route.

Until the last 4 hours we had 5 – 6 foot seas on the beam, and it was not terribly rough. We had to pull the power back but could make close to 6 knots most of the way. As we got closer to our destination the seas became confused and one wave out of twenty was much bigger than the others. The stabilizers weren’t able to compensate quickly enough. Things started sliding around, including the large dining table.

We had no breakage this trip, although there were a couple of close calls. After we anchored we discovered the microwave oven had dislodged from it’s nonstick surface, inched its way to the edge of the counter top and was close to crashing to the floor. The heavy nautical lamp bounced off the table on one of the bigger waves and I caught it before it hit the floor. The prior owner said it had never budged during many years of travel. I guess the Mar Azul is setting new records . . .

Coming in to Baie de Marigot at night was the tradeoff for a mostly daytime trip. We got in around midnight. The harbor has a wide, simple entry and was not crowded. The radar was extremely helpful in safely navigating to the anchorage. We came up behind the outermost boats and easily set the hook in the sandy, shallow bottom.

Sunday morning we got up to make the 8:15 Sandy Ground Bridge opening to enter the Lagoon. On Sundays there are two bridge openings here instead of the normal three, one in the morning and one in the evening. This being our first time through we were hoping there would be other boats going in to the Lagoon but as it turned out we were the only ones entering. The dockmaster at the Port La Royale Marina also serves as bridge tender and you can call on the radio for information and assistance, but the captain usually prefers to figure these things out independently. That’s a guy thing, I believe? They have a traffic light to tell you when you can proceed. We saw the bridge start to open and the signal was red for us. Three sailboats exited and when the light turned green we made our way into the Lagoon. No fees, no long waits; it was pretty simple. We just had to take care to avoid some nearby shoals as we were waiting. We hear the bridge on the Dutch side, that can accommodate larger vessels, charges fees and can be cumbersome with the huge yachts going in and out. As long as there is not a strong northerly swell, waiting in Baie de Marigot seems to work out fine for smaller arriving vessels.

The island is shared by two countries. We came in to St. Martin, a French overseas collectivity, versus the Dutch side of the island, Sint Maarten, a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Customs check-in was a piece of cake. We were able to accomplish the whole process at the Marina Port La Royale office on Monday morning and they didn’t seem to mind that we waited until normal business hours to check in. They have self-serve computers where you fill out and print a customs form. You pay 5.1 euros ($6.99), the dock master stamps the form, which you keep as proof that you checked in, and you are done. They don’t even check your passport. At the end of the day the marina sends all the print-outs to the main customs office.

The hardest part was typing on the French computer keyboard that has some of the letters rearranged to accommodate the different accented letters they use. Bob had fun doing that. Although the forms had English translations my minimal French came in handy. Bob was surprised to find the United States listed in the drop down menu under “E” for Etats-Unis. It took us both awhile to find the BVI’s, our prior destination under “Iles Vierges d’Anglais”. We never did find St. Barts, likely our next port, so we picked Guadeloupe!

Once checked in we are free to go between the Dutch and French sides via land or dinghy without any further paperwork. If we move the big boat to the Dutch side, we need to check in there.

We have taken a mooring at Marina Port La Royale for the next few months. It is already feeling like home. The locals and fellow boaters are very friendly and we are loving the informal atmosphere. The dogs enjoy being totally legal here, aboard or ashore.

Vive la France!

Farewell to the BVI's! Once out of the Sound we navigated from the lower helm.


The AIS (automatic identification system) verified that this freighter would pass well ahead of our vessel. It is one of those new tools that we really appreciate having aboard.


Baie de Marigot anchorage: In the daylight we might have found a calmer spot closer to shore but the location did not keep us from enjoying a good night's sleep


The Sandy Ground Bridge is behind us as we enter the Simpson Bay Lagoon, a wonderful lake-like body of water bordered by the French side on the north and the Dutch side on the south.



  1. Thrilled to hear that you have made it to my “homeland”! I hope you enjoy your time there as much as we do! If you walk into Marigot along the waterfront, you’ll see Fort Louis above. It is a nice walk up to the Fort! From the intersection of the two main roads, you’ll see a stairway headed up the hill. Nice views from the Fort and interesting history to read at each stop!

  2. Hope to see you by end of December on the French side — hoping the Christmas winds don’t get us stuck somewhere before then. Poking along the little islands, loving every minute of it….the weather Gods have been with us all along the way……… far….Sharon aboard M/V Finally Fun

  3. Finally had some time to check out your blog. Shelly and I have visited St. Maarten a couple of times. We always preferred the French side. My Mom owns a timeshare on the Dutch side but we have never been there 😦

    Your trip seems quite the adventure. Have fun and stay safe!

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