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6 hours ago SVI Trip Report [by Matt W]
We visited the Spanish Virgin Islands in early November of 2020 for a week long bareboat quarantine on a Bali 4.3. A bit late with this report, but hope it’s helpful nonetheless if you are looking at this destination!

We LOVED the SVIs. We had the place to ourselves, I think in some part due to Covid. Beautiful surroundings, epic sunsets, outstanding fishing, plenty of day activities, and really good snorkeling. When comparing to say, BVI, don’t expect as many bars/restaurants and plan to anchor more (just as we like it!).

Our trip had been planned to Key West/Dry Tortugas since we wanted to remain stateside with Covid travel restriction challenges. We knew the tropical risks with a trip this time of year, but it was all we could manage for dates to get the crew together. Alas, Hurricane/TS Eta moved up from Central America and we changed destinations to Puerto Rico 72 hours before we left.

We do a lot of cooking, so we had our driver stop at Costco and Ralphs along the way. Made for an after dark arrival to Puerto del Rey, but it was time well spent. Costco has a full selection of beer/wine/and liquor too btw.

Puerto del Rey services were great – didn’t take long to load our gear in golf carts and be driven down to the cat for the first night onboard.

First day on the water – made our way south to Green Beach (Punta Arenas). Trolled further south on our way to test the drop, but no luck. Hooked up on a yellowtail snapper on the reefs just outside the anchorage – turned this into some tasty ceviche. We anchored south of the point you can see on the charts. Several day boats were present when we arrived but after an hour we achieved solitude. Spectacular sunset over Puerto Rico. Excellent snorkeling towards the beach.

We traveled counterclockwise around Vieques and then up to Culebra- teeth to wind for this section.

Fishing: we crushed the fish for these couple days south of Vieques in 100-300 feet of water. Followed those areas on the charts with mounds and drop offs. Caught mahi, mutton snapper, king mackerel, jacks, and way too many barracuda. Trolled with 2 rods – used mostly artificial diving lures (Rapala X-Rap magnum for example), but also had some success with Ilander rigged mahi belly and a single live bait we were able to catch.

Day 2 – stopped at Sun Bay near Ensenada. They advised us not to visit the town due to Covid. Didn’t attempt a Mosquito Bay kayak tour because of some rain, but the tour operators could meet you right on the beach. We moved to Puerto Ferro for the night to see if we could see the bioluminescence there (nope!). There was also swell was wrapping around into Sun Bay. If you stay in there, tuck up as close to the NE corner as you can.

Day 3 – spent the morning fishing and then a lunch stop at Isla Chiva. We anchored on the W side of the island where there is some great snorkeling. Beaches looked awesome but didn’t try and go ashore. If you’re lucky you can see some wild horses! Spent the night in Ensenada Honda just around the corner – very well protected anchorage. Some say the approach is tricky, but we proceeded slowly with the course marked on charts and were just fine. Water is somewhat murky so it's tough to read the bottom.

Day 4 – onwards to Culebra. A tropical wave was passing to our north, so had a couple days of off and on squalls. Made a pit stop at the public dock at Dewey to grab some supplies at a little market. Overnight at Ensenada Dakity on a ball where we rode out some more rain.

Day 5 – early departure to fit in a day stop at Culebrita. This anchorage is north facing and we could see why it’s considered day stop only. Some wind wave swell was wrapping in and it was very rolly. Postcard worthy, white sandy beach lined with coconut palms – beautiful. Picked up a ball and took the dinghy ashore to hike up to the lighthouse. It’s less than a mile and takes about 30 mins. Lots of puddles and goat droppings - don't wear your favorite shoes! Skies cleared for us just in time and we had a fantastic 360 view from the top. Such a beautiful area.

Travelling north of Culebra was off limits, so we backtracked and sailed up the west side of Culebra for our overnight at Carlos Rosarion. Grabbed a ball here in ~30 feet of water.

Day 6 – The landscape at Carlos Rosarion is raw and rugged with excellent sunsets to the west over the uninhabited Cayos. Had some light roll from the trade swell that made it’s way up from the South. Wasn’t enough to scare us off. We took the dingy ashore for another hike – this time to famous Playa Flamenco. The hike again is about 30 mins and under a mile. You end up in the back of a parking lot.

Play Flamenco had a South Pacific feel to me (although I have never been). I understand why it has been ranked as a top beach globally! We made sure to get our pictures with some of the abandoned tanks the US Navy once used for target practice. I believe there are some restroom facilities and some food vendors, but we didn’t check it out. Once back on our cat, we took an evening cruise around the cayos and put the fishing lines back in the water. Highly recommend – the area is so beautiful. We weren’t, however, worried about losing our mooring ball since we were the only boat in the area.

Day 7 – our last day. On our way back we went north of Cayos de la Cordillera to have a shot at fishing in some deeper water again. We stopped at Isla Palominos for lunch to cook up some fresh mahi fish tacos. We could have stayed here overnight and motored in early the next morning. We decided to hit the fuel dock and put back in the slip for the night since we had an earlyish morning trip back to the airport.

Feel free to reach out with questions! Would love to help if I can.
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Yesterday at 06:40 PM Driftwood Boat Bar Parking [by RickandJulie]
Haven't seen this in other threads....................where do you park when you're going to Guys Driftwood Boat Bar? We prefer to go there to watch planes but have someone traveling with us who has mobility issues and can't walk long distances. Any suggestions? I see from the photos they have just a few out front, but I'm not counting on one being open when we arrive.

6 314 Read More
Yesterday at 04:44 PM Recent IDNOW Covid Test Experience [by CaribLee]
Wife and I are scheduled to get the Walgreens' IDNOW covid test this coming Friday for a Monday flight to St. Maarten. I have read the fairly recent thread on the IDNOW test but was wondering if anyone has had a recent experience using this test.....both regarding St. Maarten approval and acceptance by airline gate agents?
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Yesterday at 03:29 PM Trip Highlights [by Rush]
Just returned from a charter (7/25-8/1) and so glad we went. Here are a few takeaways:

• COVID, Portal, Entry, etc.: Dealing with the portals and testing was a pain in the a$$. I had to complete everything for my crew of 6 teenage girls, plus me and my wife, so that took a lot of time. We all came in with Vax Cards, negative rapid tests, and antibody tests. Entry was smooth. Exited back to St Thomas on Ferry with 6 antibody tests in USVI Portal. 2 of them were rejected, so we used the emed Binax – it was a little cumbersome, but we never had to leave the boat. If needed, we were going to use Dr. Garvin Dougan (MD Link) to meet us at the boat for rapid test as we did not have enough of the Binax tests ($125 for test plus $25 for traveling to meet us)

• Dolphin Water Taxi was so easy and helped make up for the rest of the hassles. Met at baggage claim in St. T. with a rum shot and beers, then quickly hopped in cab to Red Hook, walked straight to boat and departed. 20 minute stop in West End while Captain handled customs and we enjoyed another beer on the boat. Then they dropped us off right near our boat in Nanny Cay.

• Horizon Yacht Charters and FP Elba 45 ‘Gelos’ were awesome. This was our first charter with them and will definitely return. Did a Zoom boat briefing with Jalon the day before we arrived which was thorough, and they provided a detailed Instruction manual for the boat a couple of weeks in advance, so we were ready with questions. Friendly and helpful folks at the base and we were off before 9 am the next morning. Gelos was our favorite boat we have chartered – great layout and features, sailed well, very new and clean, and no issues.

• Staying at marina at Oil Nut and Scrub negated the Covid challenges as we were guests of the resort and hence we could eat at the restaurants and enjoy the resort at night.

• White Bay was happening. All balls and a good majority of the anchoring spots were taken by 9:45 Friday morning. SDB felt normal as food and drinks are always “take away” there any how. Tons of folks having a great time.

• Other places were quiet (Norman, Cooper, Leverick, Anegada), but it was a pleasant change. Having only 1 boat in range on multiple sails was a unique sight. Saba Rock looked completely ready to open and Bitter End is making progress.

Was great to see several old friends (locals and sailors) and make many new ones. We look forward to returning in October and December. Fingers crossed and prayers for continued improvement on the covid situation and an uneventful hurricane season.
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Yesterday at 10:51 AM IMF estimates Sint Maarten 2020 GDP down 24% [by PelicanPirate]

Quite a shock to the economy
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Yesterday at 12:45 AM Club O Status [by candj]
I saw that In February 2021, the revised Rebuilding Permit application was submitted for Club O.

I was wondering if anyone has seen any activity at the Club O site as I thought the fall of 2021 was the target date?
1 572 Read More
Yesterday at 12:22 AM St. Martin CDC Level 4 Again [by dvesc]
I know this was discussed previously when it seemed like the whole world was at level 4, but the CDC has put St. Martin in that category once again it seems. I actually don’t really remember when it was lowered to level 3, but I assume it happened at some point for the country to be added back to level 4.
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08/02/2021 11:58 PM Testing [by Mountaineer]
Trying to get the right information on testing when traveling from
US. Do I understand that I can get rapid test within 48 hours or PCR within 72 hours?
5 369 Read More
08/02/2021 11:50 PM Damage to Rental Vehicle [by jazzgal]
Some of you may recall that I damaged the right front fender of my rental from Leisure. I paid for the rental with a Capital One Venture card, which covers collision. The damage estimate was under $500 so I told Leisure to just charge my card and I would work it out with Cap One. I submitted the claim on line. They came back with a request for additional information. Either the additional info didn't exist or I had already submitted the request the first time around.

I was just checking my junk folder and was pleased to find an email from them stating my claim has been approved for payment. The check is supposed to be mailed within 7-10 business days. I am a happy camper and pleased with how easy the claim process was.
9 807 Read More
08/02/2021 08:14 PM Hilton Grand Vacations/Diamond finalized [by SXMScubaman]
Got this email today from Diamond.
"Today marks an exciting milestone for our company and the entire travel industry.

As of this morning, Hilton Grand Vacations has officially acquired Diamond Resorts. Together, we are now one of the world’s largest timeshare networks with a combined portfolio of 710,000 Owners, 154 properties and the broadest range of offerings in vacation ownership.

To our new Owners, I am excited to welcome you to the Hilton Grand Vacations family and look forward to meeting many of you in the future. And to all of you, thank you. We reached this milestone today because of your loyalty and passion for travel and, together, we remain focused on delivering high-quality, world-class vacation experiences.

We recognize the world of travel is changing and through this transformational combination, we are better positioned to provide you with more options in more destinations, which means more flexibility in where, how and when you travel.

As Owners, your vacation experiences with us are critical, and I want to highlight what opportunities this combination will create or enhance. I'll also highlight what is not changing — our exceptional service and focus on once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

What Are The Opportunities

More Destinations: Our network now extends to over 150 properties in sought-after destinations, including drive-to, regional and international markets. Many of these properties are in new locations and highly desired vacation spots.
Greater Product Access: Together, we will provide the broadest range of offerings with a broader price range — from upscale to luxury offerings. As new membership and timeshare product opportunities are available, we will be sure to share these with you, including program and product costs. For the time being, nothing changes — your important contacts remain the same, and you will continue to make reservations as you do now.
What Is Not Changing

Uninterrupted Services: We are committed to ensuring a smooth and seamless transition to a combined business. Integrating Hilton Grand Vacations and Diamond Resorts is a multi-year, phased approach and, at this time, both companies will continue to operate independently. Your access to your timeshare or Club exchange programs, existing resort destinations, contracts and services will remain the same.
Focus on Excellence: Both Hilton Grand Vacations and Diamond Resorts are dedicated to creating exceptional travel experiences. As a combined business, we will be guided by the Hilton Grand Vacations mission, vision and values and we'll remain committed to delighting our Owners and guests through exceptional service, while achieving new heights of excellence.
In the months and years ahead, our Team Members look forward to serving you as we integrate these two outstanding companies into one. If you have any questions in the meantime, please click here. This page provides answers to questions you might have about the acquisition.

We truly appreciate your continued loyalty, and I hope that you are as excited as we are to embark on this new chapter together. With our shared vision for the future, I am proud to be part of a strong, unified and truly exceptional new era for Hilton Grand Vacations.

Mark Wang Signature"
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