Thoughts on Anguilla from the skipper’s perspective…
Approach: We sailed N. from Ile Fourchue (NW of St Barts) past the E coast of St Martin to round the NE corner of Anguilla through the Scrub Island Channel, an unsurprisingly lumpy experience given the shallowness of the water (20-30m) and the long fetch of the trade wind waves (3000M). Scrub Island channel is worthy of respect being open to the SE, only 2 cables wide and 7m deep. We surfed through gratefully, close to the cleaner N side in beautiful turquoise water. Indeed, there may be lovelier looking island in the Caribbean than Anguilla but the waters around it are second to none. Turning E and then SE down the Anguilla coast requires close attention as there are plenty of fishing buoys as well as unmarked (tho’ well charted reefs). Road Bay is approached from the W with no off-lying hazards and gently shelving depths.
Anchorage: The bay is three quarters of a mile wide by half a mile deep and open to the W. During our stay while the trades were blowing hard there was no swell at all. Anchor on either side of the (informally) marked approach channel to the Roro dock. Most people will choose to be on the N side to be closer to the dinghy dock. Depths are between 3-4m on the N side, 4-5 on the S side. Holding is excellent on soft sand. The bay is an active place with ships calling at the Roro dock most days…
…supply boats ferrying out supplies and tourists to the outlying islands and ‘party cats’ coming and going from local bases and St Martin. Plenty of turtles are to be seen and the dramatic wrecks on the S shore remind you that this isn’t a place to ride out a hurricane.
The beach is of the most beautiful white powdery coral sand, the water gin clear.
Formalities: Customs and Immigration are to be found immediately in front of the dinghy dock (which the local kids love diving off in the evenings) where notably friendly officials are to be found between 0800 and 1600 daily. If you want to take your boat anywhere other than Road Bay you’ll need a Marine Park Permit. These are not cheap and are priced according to GRT thus:
Under 5: US$28/d
Over 20: US$140/d
If you buy six you get another, seventh, day free. The permit allows you anchor (or pick up a mooring if you can find one) anywhere round Anguilla and its outlying islands but you can only overnight at Crocus Bay (ie you have to come back to either Road Bay or Crocus Bay each evening). One might be tempted to ignore the rules but we had the strong impression that the authorities keep a keen eye on visiting yachts and would be highly unamused by any violations.
Services: Road Bay has a number of excellent beach side bars and eateries – but cheap it ain’t – expect to pay at least US$20 for a burger and chips. Elvis’ is particularly lively and fun, live jazz at Jonno’s on a Sunday afternoon was mellow. Road Bay doesn’t have a filling station, a grocery, much less a chandlery. If you hire a car (which is easy and not too expensive by Caribbean standards) you can visit the Best Buy supermarket which has a pretty good offering, but it goes without saying that Anguilla isn’t a place to stock up. Like most islands that are short of water laundry is expensive and of questionable quality.
Things to do: Lolling about by a beautiful beach glugging rum cocktails will suit many but elsewhere we enjoyed driving up to the N to walk round to (another) amazingly beautiful beach at Captains Bay.
Our children loved the water park not lest because they were the only visitors that morning. Shoal Bay was also a favourite. We joined friends to take their yacht over to Prickly Pear Cay which was, surprise, surprise, even more staggeringly lovely than everything we had previously seen on Anguilla. The colours really have to be seen to be believed – US$140 might seem a bit steep for a day anchorage but in this case it was a bargain.
All in all: Anguilla is lovely (if expensive) but the best thing about is the quite extraordinary friendliness of everyone we met. People getting cynical about the Caribbean should make Anguilla their next port of call.