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We have an opportunity to spend a week on a catamaran with Elite Island Yachts around St. Martin - has anyone ever used this company - is it wonderful. ANother question - weather in early March, is it nice sailing weather usually? Thanks for any help!

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    I'm not sure this will be of much help but it sounds like you have not had much experience with boat charters so here goes. I've not used Elite Island Yachts but have seen their web-site. They appear to be a charter company which uses their own fleet of fully crewed boats (rather than a yacht broker who arranges charters using independent privately owned yachts).

    The iteineray they sail will take you to Anguilla, one or two small neighboring iselts and back to St. Martin. You will never be out of sight of land and the strait between Anguilla and St. Martin is usually fairly calm. March should be good sailing weather but you are dealing with mother nature so there are no guarantees. Unless a major front passes through the area when you are there the weather shouldn't have any appreciable affect on your sail.

    As far as it being "wonderful", well that's a matter of interpretation. I've sailed through the BVI's and the Grenadines and always had a good time but it is very different from a land based vacation. Sailing offers you the ability to move freely between island locations (in this case between St. Martin and Anguilla). You'll drop anchor in a different place each night, dine on better than average food, have cocktails while admiring the sunset and you'll be able to spend time relaxing while you sail between anchorages and still have plenty of time to go ashore and see the sights. What you have to remember, however, is sailing much the same as camping. It can be a bit rustic no matter how nice the boat is outfitted. Think of your boat as a "RV Camper". Most likely your boat will be about 40' long and about 15' wide and not all of that is useable space. The staterooms are compact (really just a small room with a bed, a few built in drawers and enough room for two people to stand next to each other), the bed will probably be a mattress on a raised platform so be careful you don't sit too upright or you might hit your head on the low ceiling will be compact and there will be a small "head" (usually only a few sq. ft. in size) that will will serve as your bathroom, wash basin and shower. You will probably spend most of your time on deck as the spaces below deck are somewhat confining. Dress on board is very casual (t-shirts, bathing suits or shorts and boat shoes). Because everything is outdoors and subject to wind, sea spray and the ubiquitous tropical rain showers, things stay damp no matter how hard you try to keep dry. One other thing to remember, while you are on board there is really no place to go other than being on-deck, your stateroom (not really condusive for anything other than sleeping) or the galley area (a good place when it rains).

    At night when you are at anchor the boat will "roll" and you'll hear lots of strange "creaking" noises as the boat tugs at it's anchor and the wind rund through the mast. The boat will always feel as if it is in motion but you get use to that in a day or so when you get your sea legs.

    I'm not trying to disuade you or imply that sailing is not a good idea, far from it. In fact I love sailing. You just have to be aware that it is not the same as taking a cruise on a big ocean liner.

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