Since my last post we have pretty much finished up our tour of St Thomas and St John, but seeing as the better anchorages are in St John, lets focus on those. We finally made it into Coral Bay and stayed a night. Coral Bay is a great spot and the best part about it is that it is not a tourist trap. It has its local charm and sadly the locals are now fighting to keep their one refuge from the tourist culture on the island. Considering that the bulk of the island is a national park and the west end is set up for the tourists, they really don’t have another place claim. I had seen a number of bumper stickers with ‘Save Coral Bay’ during our time, but until I was able to get up close and see the fine print ‘We don’t need no stinkin marina’ I hadn’t realized what they meant.
Anyway, I fully support keeping the community as it currently is with its hippie feel. The last thing they need down here is another marina with built up waterfront housing a bunch of american style shops and restaurants. If tourists feel that much need to have everything just like it is at home, then perhaps they should just stay home.
On our way in from the boat we passed this poor sailboat, and a few other derelict boats, but the anchorage is dominated by local boats with liveaboards. Judging by the growth on some of their hulls, they don’t go very far, but it is nice to see others who think a boat is a perfectly suitable place to live.
As we continued along the road to find some groceries we were watched closely by a number of goats. I think the concern was more about Magnus than us, but mama kept a close eye and made sure we just carried along our way.
Of course we didn’t know at the time how many goats there were in town and here you can see this guy telling his friend that they were late for the convention and need not be scared of a little dog on a leash.
We really never concluded if it was a town-hall style convention or just the day to get together and mow the grass at the school baseball and soccer field, but we haven’t seen this many goats in one place before and almost did seem like an organized affair. The next morning there were non to be found when Magnus and I went ashore for his morning walk.
Speaking of the school, here it is. A little smaller than the one I went to but I’m guessing a better student to teacher ratio.
For the life of me I’m not sure where they are boating school kids from, but this boat claims to be a school bus.
We finished our evening in Coral Bay by having dinner at Skinny Legs bar and Magnus met one of the local dogs who wrestled with between the tables giving both us and the other dogs owner a good laugh.
The great aspect to St John is the fact that a large portion of it is a National Park and that the wildlife here is fantastic as a result. We seldom saw a sea turtle in the BVIs but in St John we see them in every anchorage and they will swim quite close to the boat at times.
While sailing along the south coast we even saw a whale! We came within a couple hundred yards but thankfully he kept along his way and didn’t want to flirt with our rudder. A half an hour later a Marlin jumped out of the water ahead of us, but disappeared before I could grab the camera.
Of course the hiking is also great if want to stretch your legs or tire our your dog. Here I am about 2/3 of the way up one trail with the boat anchored in the bay in the background.
I had left this hike from Lameshure Bay a little late in the day so when I realized it was about 5:35 and I had been going away from the boat for an hour (Sunset is about 6:20), I decided I better hustle and gave myself until 5:40 until I had no choice but to turn around whether I had made it to the end of the trail or not. Seeing as most of the trails end with a great look out view I was very determined.
I did make it to the top of the trail with about a minute to spare where I paused with disappointment to catch my breath as instead of a great view…. I had merely a view of a concrete road. On the bright side at least I don’t have to live wondering what I would have missed by not making it. Then for the descent I let Magnus off the leash so that we could make a fast descent.
Fortunately I put him back on the leash as we got near to the bottom because we ended up seeing a total of 7 deer. The first one sprinted across the trail and the dog was perplexed, not sure if he should want to chase it or hide behind me. The ones that stood and stared at us apparently looked much less intimidating despite there being 6 in total.
The next morning we set out to hike to the petroglyphs, but didn’t quite get that far in the heat. Still managed to find some great ruins and shed a few pounds while completing about a 3 mile round trip.
And a cool tree to hide in.
On the west end of St John is Cruz bay and it is much more developed and houses a number of resorts. We dinghied around from Caneel Bay to explore one afternoon. The waterfront is full of resorts, restaurants and shops much like any port in the caribbean.
As you get a few blocks further in you find that people must live here as they have a school, and our stop of interest was the grocery store for fresh fruit.
In general, we enjoyed cruising St John, and would definitely recommend it if you are cruising the Virgin Islands. We found some good snorkelling sites and while it took as a few tries to find coral sites that compared to some in the BVIs, the wild life is much more abundant. The downside to cruising St John is that many of the anchorages are not well protected, so you can be rolling on the north shore from north swells (and ferry wakes all day long on the NW corner) and the south shore can be a bit rolly when the trade winds are blowing with a south component as the waves wrap into the bays.