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From time to time we’ll have people tell us that a certain place is their “favorite anchorage.” Often times the places that they rank as the best wouldn’t even make it into our top 100. In fact, this occurred just yesterday. What qualities would an anchorage have to have in order for us to place it on the best-of-the-best list? Here are our main ones. Your criteria may vary.

  • Protection from waves and swell*. This is a must have. A boat which is rolling in the waves is no fun to sleep on!
  • Protection from the wind*. This is not a “must have” as number 1 is but it’s nice, especially if the wind is really going to blow. We have anchored behind reefs where the lion’s share of the wind still reaches us and as long as the reef prevents the wind-induced chop from reaching us, all is well. Cruisers with wind generators might actually prefer places like this.
  • Stable wind direction. This is much more important to us than blocking the wind altogether. There are places where the land effect causes the wind to shift directions every few minutes. Basse Terre, Guadeloupe is one such spot. When this happens it makes it much more difficult to pick a safe spot, and stay a good distance from your neighbors.
  • Water is not too deep. Although there are some nice anchorages where the water is very deep, we tend to avoid them. We prefer to anchor only in water where we are able to dive down to inspect our ground tackle.
  • Clean water. If the water isn’t clean enough for us to swim, and run our watermaker, we won’t be staying there long!
  • Internet access. Not a deal breaker but being able to connect from the boat sure makes our life much easier.
  • Nice scenery. Being anchored off a commercial dock or a busy street isn’t so cool. We, as I’m sure many people do, prefer a nice beach to look at.
  • Privacy. Although we’re pretty social, we don’t like being forced to anchor right on top of other boats. We like to have some breathing room.
  • Free. Yes, there are places where you are forced to take a mooring which you must pay for, or even pay to anchor. This is the case where we are now in Les Saints. We are generally not down with that.
  • Reasonable proximity to facilities, shopping, etc. This doesn’t mean that we have to be right on top of a town as we have a dinghy fast enough to get us a mile or so relatively quickly. Those who row their dinghies to shore might want to be a bit closer.

Give us all of the above and we’ll likely rate the place excellent and want to stay for a while. With all that said, so far we haven’t been too impressed with the anchorages in Guadeloupe, especially when compared to many of those we found in Antigua. Although we loved the hike that we did in Deshaies, the anchorage there and the ones at Pigeon Cove and Basse Terre missed too many of our key points to get high ratings.

Even though we didn’t like the anchorage outside Basse Terre, we did enjoy walking around the town. Unfortunately we chose a Sunday to do so and the French cities are virtual ghost towns on Sundays! We really need to plan things like this better!

Ghost town! Lesson learned: Don’t try to explore a French town on a Sunday.

This is what we’re forced to do when we can’t get internet on the boat.

We found one source of the cool graffiti that decorates the town. He was just beginning a new project.

The anchorage outside the Marina Sens near Basse Terre did not get high ratings from us. The water was deep, the wind was very shifty, there was no internet available from the boat, free or otherwise, and although it wasn’t ugly, I wouldn’t say that it was super scenic either.

*Few anchorages are protected from ALL wind and sea conditions (those that are are often considered Hurricane Holes). Obviously the wind does shift directions from time to time. Even the trade winds, which blow steadily from the east, can vary a bit north or south. The same goes for the swell which can switch direction due to storms which occur far-away in the middle of the ocean. Because of this, an anchorage which might get top ratings on some days would be one to avoid on others.


  1. I think you were spot on with your list……We have some pretty kewl anchorages in our cruising grounds that are a lessons in what we like and dont like………For me an anchorages at my stage is to get away from civilization if only for a weekend…..I like to go where others don’t know yet or dont feel comfortable anchoring……..

  2. Great points to consider when choosing an anchorage. Love the graffiti … if only it looked liked that everywhere, it wouldn’t be a bad thing!

  3. You don’t mention GOOD HOLDING.

    I can put up with most things, so long as the anchor holds!


  4. thanks for the video…..loved the music…..looks like an easy place to get hurt……

  5. It sure beats the view out of my window 😉

  6. Hi – I stumbled across this post and thought it would be a great addition to the new topic in development on anchorages on The Monkey’s Fist. Hope you’re okay if I add a link to your post once the topic goes live. Some great tips on criteria for picking an anchorage plus fantastic pictures that I think others will love to check out.

    Cheers – Ellen

  7. Clean water? I agree, it is best to dive on the anchoring or mooring to ensure it is well set and safe. But I’ve anchored plenty of4.5 foot draft cats in 6-8 feet of water with a sandy bottom when your the viz was no more than 18 inches. Sometime ya just gotta make it happen. Internet access, free or otherwise, I don’t care. IN fact, I think I’d rather not have any and focus not he serenity of boat life. Why does everyone pick on Guadeloupe? Yes, it’s different, not cruisered-out and charming in its own way. Deshaies is a gem. Isle a Gosier is very pleasant too. I can’t wait to go back to Guadeloupe and see more.

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