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How do you get to Sombrero Island?

Sombrero - Buildings
Sombrero - Anchored

Anchored off Sombrero Island

As I checked the weather for our crossing of the Anegada Passage, I realized we might be able to fulfill a dream I have had since I got to the Caribbean 6 years ago. As I read up on Sombrero Island, all I was really able to find out is a brief description in a cruising guide, it on the chart, and some history on Wikipedia.

To say I was a bit nervous is an understatement, but I was not going to let that stop me. I staged on the east side of Prickly Pear in the BVI and motored out the channel between Virgin Gorda and Necker Island at 2am with 0-5 knots of wind. We continued to motor for about 8 hours (53 nautical miles) and arrived around 10:30am. I started seeing the building from 9 miles out and wondered if it was a ship since I read the island was flat. Once I started seeing the island itself I started getting excited.

Sombrero - Ladder

This is the ladder you need to climb to get on the island

Sombrero Island is roughly a mile long and half a mile wide. It is a platue 40 feet high and looks imposing. We finally started getting depth reading about a mile or two out and I dropped the anchor into sand in 70 feet of water. I was several hundred feet off the island and just west of the buildings at N18 35.164/W63 25.766. Do be careful because my chart plotter had me 200 feet onto the island. There is what looks like a small harbor on the satellite photo, but it is too surgy and there is nowhere to tie the boat off to (although this is where they craned up supplies and loaded the boats with guano). Since there was no wind and a very small swell I felt ok with 200 feet of chain out (3:1 scope) to visit the island for an hour or so.

Sombrero - Harbor

A view at the “harbor” of Sombrero Island

I read that you can climb up the ladder to get to the steps carved into the cliff. This is all true information and the ladder is a good steel one bolted to the cliff. It is just north of the small harbor I mentioned. The problem is that the ladder is six feet above the water and there is nowhere to tie the dinghy that would keep it from getting destroyed against the rocks. You will probably have to do what we did and have someone drop you off at the ladder and stay with the dinghy. Luckily Melek did this for me after I gave her a lesson in driving the dinghy……ok it was more of a pull this, turn that, now drop me off. Haha. I was so excited to get onto Sombrero Island and she has written a funny blog for Thursday about this experience. I hope you will come back to read it.

Sombrero sketch chart

I hope this sketch chart helps if you chose to visit Sombrero Island.

2 Comments

  • Shane says:

    Cedric,

    Thank you so much for reading and your kind comments.

    My opinion is that this is the type of place you visit only during the day and only if the weather is really calm. Even then you do not use the “harbor”. The problem is that there is no real protection and even though the weather was extremely calm there was still a sizeable surge hitting the island including the “harbor”.

    With that said you should have a blast during a calm day there. Enjoy!

    Shane

  • Cedric Konig says:

    Hi Shane, Thanks a lot for post. I’m going back to sint maarten in April and a friend has 25feet boat and we like to visit and fish places like this.
    Do you think it is big and deep enough to anchor in the “harbor” for one night ?

    Best regards

    cedric

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