Dream destination with obstacles – how to sail to Anguilla in times of COVID

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The dream
Since we have started planning our sailing trip to the Carribean I have dreamt of going to Anguilla, a secluded Island with turquoise waters and pristine beaches. But then came COVID. Currently we are in our third season in the Caribbean, but we have not been able to visit Anguilla. At least I have seen it now. From the northwest coast of Saint Martin you can see the island of my dreams. But everyone I ask about a possible trip to Anguilla waves me off: “Anguilla? Too complicated”.

The challenge
You need an agent, which is unusual for private yachts. Then a lot of paperwork has to be filled out. Several COVID tests are required. Also the anchoring possibilities are limited. The whole south coast is closed. I am torn. Does it make sense to sail to Anguilla when there are other islands that make it much easier? But now we are already so close…🤔 . The skipper leaves the choice to me. He is responsible for sailing, the planning is my task.

Then I read in the Sint Maarten Facebook group, that an American sailor has recently visited Anguilla. He is enthusiastic about Anguilla and points out, that despite the restrictions, there are still enough anchorages worth seeing. With the help of the agent, they have mastered the formalities. So it’s doable. Let’s go for it.

The implementation
The first thing we need is an agent. I call the agent mentioned in the Facebook post. But she turns me down. She says she has so much to do with the mega yachts, she has no time for us. 😯. Doesn’t sound encouraging, but don’t give up now. I contact BWA, who have an office in our marina. Immediately a friendly email comes back. Suddenly, everything doesn’t sound so complicated anymore. The important thing is the timing: The COVID test must be done between 5 and 2 days before entry. So I schedule it first and tell the agent my schedule. She sends me all the necessary information about the cruising permit and the bays where anchoring is allowed.

Nervously we wait for the result of the COVID test. If it were positive right now, the whole schedule would be off. While we wait for the result, I already create an account in the official entry portal of Anguilla.

We are lucky, the test is negative😅. I upload everything to the portal and promptly get a confirmation, which I send to our agent. This way she can ask about the status of our application if needed. Then it’s time to wait. In Sint Maarten and Saba, the authorization comes within 24 hours. In Anguilla, it’s a bit more complicated, as the whole thing involves several steps.

We use the time to prepare escape to sail again. The big sun awning is stowed away. Sprayhood and bimini are put up again. At some point I get the message that the first step was accepted. But it does not go further. Nervously I write to the agent. She reassures me. It takes time and sometimes the portal sends intermediate reports twice. Is it because it is the weekend? No, also in Anguilla the portal is worked on 7 days a week. Finally, the authorization arrives the evening before our scheduled departure. Now we only have t o make the payment and then we are easy to go. Yay🤩.

The sailing trip
January 17th is the day. I am up early in the morning. The clearing out goes very fast, I scan the document and send it to the agent. We leave on time. At 10:30am escape passes the Simpson Bay bridge.

We make our way through the anchored boats, some large mega yachts are here today.

Once we have enough space we set sail. The wind comes very astern at first, then when we have rounded the western tip of Sint Maarten, we can luff a little.

As we come out of the land cover and cross the Anguilla Channel, escape picks up decent speed, we get a lot of heeling. The skipper is in his element; I move to the leeward bench and take a little nap. The skipper takes the opportunity to push escape to the limits. He actually manages to overtake the freighter, which navigates parallel to us.

When I wake up we are already close to Road Bay, the only possible port of entry on Anguilla. At 3.30pm we have to be at the dinghy dock to meet our agent. We are much earlier, so the skipper has time to look for an anchorage.

The Arrival
Road Bay is Anguilla’s main port. You can see a small cargo ship that is just being loaded. There are smaller fishing boats and excursion boats. There is only one other sailor besides us. Next to it is a fine sandy beach.

I’m curious what awaits us. We have to do a COVID test, only if it is negative are we allowed to go to the island. What if that goes wrong? Trevaun from BWA greets us at the dinghy dock. He takes our passports and takes care of all the formalities, while we wait relaxed on the beach. The COVID test is quick, and the result is just as quick. We are negative😅. Now we can explore Anguilla. Wow🤩, that was fast.

That leaves the cruising permit. Beforehand, I thought about from which day and for how many days we would need the cruising permit. But you can see that here in a very relaxed way. We could just let the agent know and the cruising permit will be applied for as we need it.


The place
We look at Road Bay and the associated town Sandy Ground.

There are a few small restaurants and bars on the beach. Volker unerringly heads for the Elvis’ Beach Bar. This bar has cult status in the Caribbean. Elvis started the bar 15 years ago selling drinks from a wooden boat lying on the beach. Today it is a restaurant, with a beach club, bar and its own stage. Elvis himself is behind the counter. To celebrate the day, I’ll have a beer, too 🍻. Now I realize we made it. We’re in Anguilla, which I used to only dream of.

For the blue hour we are back one board.

The next day we stay in Road Bay. We walk along the beach and in the evening we go to the Sandbar Restaurant, where they serve tasty tapas. What makes me particularly happy is, that the salad and vegetables are locally grown. We sit on the beach overlooking the water as the sun sets. Escape rocks at the very back. We already know that Anguilla was worth the effort.

In case you want to enter Anguilla with your own yacht these are the entry requirements
1.) You need a local yacht agent, you can find the list of agents on the official website of Visit Anguilla
2.) Complete COVID vaccination protection must be proven
3.) A negative PCR test (2-5 days prior to arrival) or antigen test (36-48 hours prior to arrival).
4.) A health insurance that covers a potential COVID disease. I had a certificate from our insurance company for this purpose, but in the end you only have to check the box in the portal that you have the insurance, no proof is required.
5.) All info must be uploaded in the health portal. Entry is only allowed if you have received authorization by email. In our case it took two days. If needed, the agent can ask about the status.
5.) There is a fee of 50US$ per person. If entry is denied, or you end up not going, this fee will not be refunded.
6.) Upon arrival, another COVID test will be performed. Only if this test is negative, you are allowed to move freely on the island.
7.) If you want to anchor outside of Road Bay, you need a cruising permit which depends on the tonnage (not length) of the vessel and can be issued for days or weeks. The agent will take care of the details

In addition, of course, you need the usual documents such as passports, visa if necessary, boat registration and the last clearance. All this will be sent to the agent.

Before entering the country, please check the current entry requirements again here or with the agent, as changes can occur at any time. 

This all sounds very complicated when you read it for the first time. In practice it is not so bad. If necessary, the agent will help. 

As always noonsite is a good source of information

Here the Cruising Permit fees for Anguilla from the government website customs.gov.ai

Links

Our agents were Sue and Trevaun from BWA Yachting. They did a great Job, thank you so much🙏.

Tripadvisor on Elvis’ Beach Bar
Tripadvisor on Sand Bar Restaurant

In my own account
It has been very quit on this blog for a long time. Probably it was too ambitious from my side to try to maintain two webpages regularly. However I will try to improve😄. I thought our trip to Anguilla, the magical little island on the north eastern tip of the Carribean would be a good starting point. Let me know your opinion….
For a more detailed account of our sailing trip in chronological order you can go to our german website. It has an inbuilt Google translator, so you can read it in any language you like. If you access the page from a mobile device, just make sure that you scroll to the very bottom to find the Google translate button.

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