For just over the past week we have been back in the US Virgin Islands having completed a counterclockwise loop around St John with visiting family. This part of the caribbean really is one of the better places to sail and having company made for a good week.
We hauled up our anchor on a Sunday morning as the sun was rising in Marigot, St Martin and took advantage of the 25kn ENE winds that were keeping most boats from going anywhere for a fast downwind ride with the jib poled out straight to Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas. We dropped anchor a few minutes after 10 that night. Hard to complain when you average 6.5 knots in 5-8′ seas on a 34′ boat for over 100 miles. I clocked 10.4 knots on the GPS while surfing down a few waves which might be the closest we’ve been to our Georgian Bay record of 11.7.
The new autopilot seems to handle the downwind sailing a bit better than the old, presumably due to the additional accelerometers and gyrometer in the sensor to deal with the big waves that spin the boat upwind and require a more aggressive response. As we both wanted to make good time and the boat was quite happy with just a single reef in the main, we hand steered to resist shortening the sail plan that would have made the autopilot happier. Plus, these were fun conditions to be at the wheel.
Our guests arrived Monday evening and we spent their first night in Charlotte Amalie harbour which allowed us to visit downtown the next day. While touring the shops we could see smoke across the water. As we wandered back towards our dinghy at Yacht Haven Grande marina it became quite clear where the smoke had been coming from. We arrived just in time to see them cast the lines off for a tow boat to get it out of the marina. Less than 10 minutes later the entire 84′ yacht was engulfed.
After the excitement, we departed for our first stop, Christmas Cove for a peaceful night and the first of the snorkelling.
Of course, it wouldn’t be right to bring guests to this anchorage and not dinghy over to place an order for lunch from Pizza Pi.
Magnus approves of having guests because we get the cushions out.
And particularly enjoys when Grandma sends the guests with new toys.
After a quick stop in Cruz Bay to stretch our legs and take on water, we headed for the peaceful tranquility of the St John National Park and anchored in Great Lameshur Bay. Fantastic snorkelling, crystal clear water and a Magnus on duty to notify us anytime a turtle surfaced for a breath of air.
This shot really summarizes the week. Great weather, great views and stunning clear water.
On the east end of St. John is Coral Bay which is really the locals refuge from the tourist resorts and hussle and bustle of the too often obnoxious cruise ship guests. The locals here are battling marina proposals that no doubt would spoil the charm of this village, but in the meantime they are always happy to serve up one of their famous burgers at Skinny Legs to a cruiser.
Not sure what Chris and Melanie had been told to expect, but they seemed to adapt well to boat life.
And just for Celeste, Chrissy is not only getting a picture of her food before taking a bite, but modeling it too.
I’ll admit I loved the quality of the food in the french islands but the simple guy in me had been building a craving for some simple pub grub for some time.
This bumper sticker pretty much sums up the mood on St John. Except I think the people here might be “more there” than those who cherish their cubicles as a means to get a shinier car before the guy down the street.
Our last stop on St John was Lienster Bay so we could snorkel around Waterlemon Cay and wander over to the Annaberg Sugar Plantation ruins that date back to around 1800.
And we concluded our visit with a close up of a cruise ship departing Charlotte Amalie as we were returning. How do you feel a couple hundred yards away from a massive ship while you’re aboard a little plastic boat?
And with our guests dropped off on the beach next the airport, we found a spot to anchor in Honeymoon bay on Water Island. Somehow we managed to skip this last year, but it is quickly becoming a favourite. Reportedly they also have the best burgers in the Virgin Islands too. It might take a few days, but I’ll let you know which one.
We did date night at the Monday night movie hosted by Heidi’s beach bar and grill. We pulled up a chair behind the sheet/screen to watch the sunset with a margarita in hand to be followed up with a movie. Best part was we were back aboard in plenty of time to be asleep by sailors midnight (which is 9pm for those that don’t know).
On the left, a yacht transport ship that transports some big yachts. Yet somewhat dwarfed by the outgoing Oasis of the Seas.
And to those of you back home, I have good news. Spring is here and the owners of these yachts are sending them up the coast in anticipation of the good weather. And to the owners of these yachts, I’d like to point out that my boat has demonstrated the ability to make the trip on her own bottom and cost a heck of a lot less to buy.