4 types of anchorages
Lying approximately 25 nm SSW of St. Martin is the small volcanic island of Saba. That name sometimes causes a bit of confusion amongst cruisers as the BVIs have a similarly named spot, Saba Rock. As best we can tell, the spot in the BVIs is pronounced with a short ‘A’ sound while the island near us is spoken with a long ‘A’ sound, Say-Ba. Regardless of how you say it, we want to go there. Saba Island that is.
Although we’ve been in this area two different times, we have yet to visit Saba. The hiking on the island is reported to be excellent and thus we did plan on going there last year. As I wrote in our blog though, Rebecca had a small injury which caused us to change our plans at the last moment and give the island a pass. This year we are determined to go there and thus have been keeping a weather eye to see when it would be good to leave the shelter of our protected anchorage.
As I was reviewing the forecasted wind and sea conditions this morning, it started me thinking about the different types of anchorages that we come across. I think I could break them down into four different categories, each offering various levels of protection from the elements.
- Fully enclosed lagoon or harbor. Ex. Simpson Bar Lagoon – St. Martin, Marigot Bay – St. Lucia, Port Egmont – Grenada. Places such as these that offer near 360 degree protection obviously provide the best shelter from bad weather. While the wind may still affect the boats at anchor, waves would typically be limited to the chop generated by that breeze.
- Deep sheltered bay on the lee side of an island. Ex. Deep Bay – Antigua, Admiralty Bay – Bequia, Tyrrel Bay – Carriacou. Under normal trade wind conditions these bays provide good protection although certain ones can still sometimes be affected by a swell wrapping around the island. In storm conditions, when the winds often blow from somewhere other than their normal direction, the protection offered by these bays disappears..
- Anchoring anywhere on the lee side of an island. Ex. Saba Island, Roseau – Dominica, Basse-Terre – Guadeloupe. Spots such as these are the easiest to locate. If the wind is blowing from the east, simply find a spot of suitable depth with a good bottom behind an island that can provide a break from the wind and seas and drop your hook. The downside to this type of anchorage is that they are most susceptible to swell and/or wind shifts.
- Anchoring behind a reef.. Ex. Horseshoe Reef – Tobago Cays, Bird Island Reef – Antigua, Ensenada Dakity – Culebra. In settled conditions, anchoring behind reefs such as the ones I have listed can be amazing. While you still receive the full affect of the cooling breeze, the uncomfortable affect of the waves is largely broken up by the reef in front of you. In times of less than ideal conditions though, I think we’d seek better shelter.
You’ll note that I included Saba Island in category 3. We have read that even in settled conditions the anchorage can be rolly. With the Christmas Winds continuing to blow here, and the swell forecast to once again start rolling in from the north, it’s pretty much putting our trip to Saba in a holding pattern. Oh well, I guess we’ll just have to enjoy ourselves in St. Martin a bit longer. We know that Saba isn’t going anywhere. It’ll still be there when the weather improves.
Saba on Google Earth — as close as we have yet to come.
Note: We have anchored in all of the spots that I used as examples in the above text. For more info on these places and photos, enter their names in the search box here on our blog. Look in the right hand sidebar for the search box.