Tag Archives: st martin

Sailing St. Martin: Grand Case

at anchor grand caseContinuing the story of the ASA St. Martin Flotilla 2012.

PART THREE: BARBEQUE FOR EVERY MEAL

As a finale, we spent two days in Grand Case, on the French side of St. Martin. Grand Case is a narrow village of colonial facades facing a wide bay packed with sailboats, and bills itself as the dining capital of the Caribbean. Here you can get everything from fresh-caught snapper and lobster, artfully prepared by a master chef, to $2 barbeque. You can also get fine Italian cuisine, and at the Fish Pot, if you want to you can pluck your own lobster out of a pool, hold him up for a picture, and then have him for dinner.

The buildings are painted in bright yellows, red, and blues, just a bit faded from the Caribbean sun. One of the first places you’ll encounter as you stride up the dinghy dock is called Bar 24 — a little juice and cold beverage stand run by a Quebecois named Natalie. This is a great place to cool off and refresh before you hit the main drag.
grand case beach
For lunch, I opted for the barbeque. For dinner, I opted for it again. I’ll admit that I even had steak for breakfast one morning. Sad to say, I can neither approve or deny the claim of Grand Case’s gastronomic supremacy, I can only report that the barbeque is INCREDIBLE. It doesn’t seem to matter which place you go to; just wander and let the smell of sizzling ribs guide you. You will not leave unsatisfied.

A number of other flotilla members did eat at the finer establishments, and reported back favorably. So, it seems, you really can’t go wrong in Grand Case when it comes to eating. At night the town comes alive with music and singing, throngs of people; a very festive and happy atmosphere.

But what about those pesky in-between times when you’re not eating? Well, I clambered out some rocks, past a few local fishermen, to the point of the bay, and took this video:

Not a bad view, eh? Everywhere we went, we seemed to be encountering these spectacular vistas. And after two nights and a farewell beach party, we departed Grand Case and our trip came to a close.

What I’ll remember most, aside from the place itself, is the tight-knit bond that developed among the group, and particularly within the crews of the individual boats. Sailing with people, and living aboard with them, is a share experience that you can’t replicate any other way. For me, that’s the greatest value of an ASA flotilla. I can’t wait to do it again!

To find out more about upcoming ASA flotillas, click here!

st martin shirt

Sailing St. Martin: Anguilla

anguilla road bayContinuing the story of ASA’s 2012 St. Martin flotilla.

PART TWO: THE ROOSTER CROWS FOR DAY

After two nights in Gustavia, St. Barths, it was time to up-anchor and head for the British island of Anguilla. It was a marathon sail, 26 miles with several tacks and gybes onto different points of sail. Great practice for all of us, especially the three people on my boat getting their ASA 104 certifications! We had excellent sailing conditions throughout the trip, with consistent winds of 10-15 knots.

Continue reading

Sailing St. Martin: Arrival and St. Barths

Approaching St. Martin by sailThis is how you arrive in St. Martin: the 737 screams in over tin rooftops and a strip of yellow beach, then desperately brakes on the world’s shortest commercial runway; the taxi rides the perilous curves of the road, cut into the mountainside above sapphire seas and distant islands; and you are thrust, groggy and confused, into the bright mid-day sun at Oyster Pond Marina, where your vessel awaits.

From there, things slow down considerably–to a magical pace known as “island time.”

ASA’s first ever St. Martin flotilla was held from April 20-28, 2012, and I got to go along for the ride. The Caribbean’s Renaissance Islands are separated from one another by only a few sea-miles, but are worlds apart culturally and geographically. Comprised of bustling, half-French/half-Dutch St. Martin, the distinctly European flavor of St. Barths, and rural, English-owned Anguilla, a week of sailing these islands is not just a lesson in the art of relaxation, but also a study in the remarkably varied history of the West Indies. Continue reading

ASA St. Martin flotilla will deliver books to Anguilla elementary school

hands across the sea classIn about three weeks, a group of over 30 sailors will depart for ASA’s sailing flotilla at the Caribbean island of St. Martin. It will be a week of fun and adventure, but it will also be more than that. (You can read about the details of the flotilla itself right here.) The exciting news is that we’re partnering with Hands Across the Sea, a US based charity, to donate and deliver a huge quantity of books to an elementary school on the island of Anguilla.

Midway through the flotilla, we’ll be anchoring at Road Bay on Anguilla. Up the hill from there lies Adrian T. Hazell Primary School. They are short on books for their upper grade students, so ASA’s book delivery will be specifically for grades 3-6. Your ASA Social Media Coordinator (and blog writer) will be part of the flotilla, and helping deliver the books, so I’ll have lots of great pictures to share and stories to tell afterwards!

It was an ASA member on the flotilla who discovered the charity and proposed our involvement, and many of the crew have voluntarily pitched in, demonstrating the generosity and spirit of the ASA community. We’re thrilled to be able to do some good for the communities we’re visiting, and to show a token of appreciation for the hospitality that the Caribbean so famously extends to sailors.

If you’re interested in doing something like this on your next Caribbean vacation or charter, check out Hands Across the Sea. Meanwhile, stay tuned to ASA Social Media for exclusive video, photos, and stories from the St. Martin trip!
reading child
All photos courtesy of Hands Across the Sea.

ASA 2012 Flotilla: St. Martin and the Leeward Antilles

st. martinCheck out our full 2012 flotilla schedule here.

From April 20-28, 2012, ASA will be leading a flotilla in St. Martin and its neighboring Leeward Islands, St. Barts and Anguilla. A flotilla consists of several boats sailing together, and has many advantages. For one thing, it takes away the intimidation factor of exploring a new destination, since the group will be led by a captain with a wealth of local experience. Additionally, it’s a chance to meet a bunch of new sailors and share an amazing adventure.

St. Martin is a fascinating destination. The island is half-French, half-Dutch, meaning that even though it isn’t very big, it is home to two distinct cultures. Nearby St. Barts is French, and Anguilla to the north is English. That means ASA will be touring three European countries, all in the comfort of Caribbean warmth! Continue reading

New 2012 ASA Flotillas!

bahamas flotillaEvery year ASA organizes flotilla cruises around the world. In 2011 alone we’ve been to the Bahamas, Greece, Croatia, and the Pacific Northwest, among other wonderful destinations. Still to come this year are cruises in Southern California, Florida’s Pine Island Sound, and Tahiti.

We’re hitting the ground running in 2012, too. Here are the flotillas scheduled so far:

St. Martin and the Leeward Antilles, April 20-28, 2012. With visits to French St. Martin, Dutch Sint Maarten, British Anguilla, and other stops along the way, this cruise will be a mix of European sophistication, with fine shopping and eating, and relaxed West Indian vibes. Not to mention great Caribbean sailing!

Victoria and San Juan Islands Flotilla, June 15-22, 2012. This flotilla will visit the Canadian city of Victoria, which boasts a spectacular harbor. Other stops on Vancouver Island include the vibrant seaside town of Sidney and tiny, laid back Genoa Bay. We will also be sailing the beautiful San Juan Islands of northwest Washington. Wildlife abounds in these areas and includes bald eagles and orca whales.

For more information on these flotillas and how to register, click here.