U.S. Virgin Islands
U.S. Virgin Islands

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19 travelers at this place:

  • Day56

    St Thomas, USVI

    December 12, 2016 on the U.S. Virgin Islands ⋅ 🌙 26 °C

    Wind. Blustery breeze.

    Hunkering down under the aeroplanes in the flattest, most protected water available. Coincidently a very nice spot! We're playing it safe until with winds drop back down below 20kts, at least for now.

    We've picked up the princess, she's alive and buzzing at the warm weather and clear blue water. To top it off, our anchorage happened to be host to numerous families of turtles, who popped up all over the bay, and forced us into countless impulsive swims. We also got the windsurfer up and running over these two days. Believe it or not, everyone our boat can windsurf - how's that??!

    It was great to be waiting on the weather. In a nice location we just had time to burn. Everyone set their own clocks and did their activities as they pleased. Not that we were ever on a hectic schedule, but I'm sure you know what I mean.

    I'm going to take the liberty here to offer a little insight to the weather. Jump to the two paragraphs if you don't like weather. So I bet you're thinking we get sun all day and moon all night, right? Wrong. We're riddled with showers, all the time. Although the sun is shining for most of the day, it doesn't take good eyes to spot a darkening cloud on the horizon. Contrary to weather at home, these clouds arrive quickly and leave quickly, torrenting with rain. Squalls would be the best way to describe them, as the reliably bring wind, lot's of wind, and heavy downpours. Often, in less than a minute, they're gone. With five or six of these per day or per night, it's infuriating. Hatches open, washing out; hatches closed, washing in. And by washing I mean electronics. Close the hatches and the bot roasts. First world problems, I know.

    We're also sitting in the trades, so we reliably get easterly wind and swell. It makes for easy route planning. It also makes for easy guidebook writing, as authors need only provide guidance for one wind direction. And in the charting world, a western anchorage is a safe bet. With regard to the temperature. I've seen only 26 and 27 degrees since we got here. More consistency than Fraser's presence in class during his study in Otago (never).

    Yesterday we motored up to Great St James Island to get a better angle to attack St Croix in an Easterly breeze. During his evening anchor dive, Scott meandered over to a nearby rocky outcrop. With Felicity and I in tow, we stumbled across a massive crayfish in around 1m of water. The rest is history. Scott's appetite for hunting cray is enormous. No crack goes unsearched and no craycray goes unattacked (size pending of course). After wrestling this sucker out of it's (particularly small) hole, we realised that there was no other way back to the boat than swim. Furthermore, the shallow water was surging with the swell, and sea urchins littered the alcove. With both hands tied up with said fish, swimming was tough. Witnessing Scott get smashed on rocks, urchins and pricked by a fiesty crustacean was undoubtedly the highlight of my day. Felicity took her sweet time getting the dinghy as Scott's shallow injuries mounted. After an eternity she (the cray) was safe in the yacht and fed us four for dinner...with leftovers. A fantastic end to an otherwise uneventful day.

    As a little aside, who's reading my blog?? I literally have no idea who's reading this. A teacher, some time during my numerous years of education, told me I should tailor my words to my audience. Send us a like or a comment if you're reading and let me know what you want to read more about!!
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  • Day6

    The Entertainment Continues

    January 16, 2018 on the U.S. Virgin Islands ⋅ ⛅ 77 °F

    Over the last few days the entertainment has been nonstop. We had a top tier loyalty event in the Aqua Theater with the Captain, champagne and a private show.
    We frequently have enjoyed the Jazz Club with its quartet and singer.
    The 90 minute Grease performance was like a Broadway production (or even better).
    We were also entertained by a Las Vegas vocalist, Tony Tillman who was backed by the full Harmony orchestra. He was non stop energy covering all types of music while getting the crowd involved.
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  • Day55

    St John, USVI

    December 11, 2016 on the U.S. Virgin Islands ⋅ 🌬 27 °C

    New boat, new country, soon to be new crew...

    We awoke the next morning with a feeling of confidence in our new electronics. However, Dave had slept on it (and likely consulted his boss) and arrived bright and early in good spirits. After explaining the electricians doings from the night before, Dave wholly overlooked all factors and announced his predetermined decision: we're getting a new (read: different) boat.

    Mixed feelings welled in as we gratefully accepted. Anne's Turn is a 2005 Hunter 40, newer and 10 feet shoter than our previous ship, Windseeker. We were happy to leave any potential unresolved problems behind, but had a sneaking suspicion that we would miss the luxury of space, lots of space. Especially with the impending arrival of her highness, Felicity.

    Further inspection reinforced this. Anne is well equipped for blue water sailing and live-aboard cruising. Perfect for us. So well equipped in fact, there is almost no room for anything else. She's now well packed, with a bathroom full of travel bags and windsurf gear, and we've yet to put her highness aboard and do the food shop. Hmmm. The good news is that so far, Anne's batteries have offered little concern. She's a huge step up in manoeuvrability, handling, speed and ease of sail. Truely a delight in the water. A good result to date, fingers crossed.

    Yesterday we, all three of us, experienced our first migration by 'private vessel'. Customs in JVD, BVI was just as expected. A man in uniform sat behind a well used desk in a quaint two storey police building. No computers, no phones, just paper and stamps. Conversation was nil, as I handed over our papers and got more grunting than Grant himself on a day of DOMS. After paying our dollar (literally), and 40 cents for paperwork, receiving no passport stamps or formal emmigration documents, I left a nervous man. USVI here we come.

    A short sail later and a salute to no man's land we arrived to a heavily congested Cruz Bay at St John's island. Now we're getting used to anchoring in some tight spots, but this was something else. The bay was divided in three sections by two well marked channels. The northern most anchorage was well above our draft, and the northern channel left us under a foot clear, so we were already playing with fire. The other two anchorages had back to back private moorings which covered almost all of the available anchorage. Oh, and the whole bay was enclosed by a reef which plummeted to 60+ feet behind. After intially being booted off a spare (private) mooring we snagged, we squeezed into a narrow gap on the edge (read: in) the channel. What a polava.

    US customs, as expected, was the complete opposite of BVI customs. Four enclosed booths, with computers, camera's, fingerprint scanning and of course wonderful, wonderful AC. The only thing different to mainland US customs were the staff. Apparently local, they toned down the intimidation of a mainland official and for a moment I almost felt welcome. We passed in with our existing US visas like a cool breeze through the open hatch. Let's hope clearing out is just as simple.

    USVI and BVI are geographically intertwined. The water border weaves around islands like spaghetti on a plate, and it's not unusual to be checking a chart to determine an island's nationality. Despite this, the cultures differ dramatically. America is alive and well in the USVIs, with fast food chains, obnoxious stereotypical american tourists, tipping, sales tax and of course - the american flag. On every building. Just in case you forgot you where you were. The harbours a more developed, more congested and almost entirely private, we soon found out. Fortunately we found a less congested anchorage for the night and were able to witness an incredible sunset!

    Red Rock is supposed to be one of the main harbours in the area. We approached in the mid morning, after a nights sleep beside the pizza boat (fantastic idea). An 18kt tail wind ensured a swift entry into the harbour (even without sails), and the rising chop ensured Jools recieved his daily beating (Jools versus boat is an ongoing saga). His back is looking like a battlefield after being tossed across the kitchen into an immovable stove. One hand for the boat, lesson learned. Oh and if he tries to blame me for it he's having a laugh. I digress - we couldn't find a mooring or a slip even remotely accessible by land. We had no choice but to moor in the wind and chop, until we found all the moorings were private. So we anchored, and it dragged. And we narrowly got out of a sticky situation before taking a risk on a mooring again. Fortunately whilst enquiring about moorings, a lovely lady offered is her friend's, which we enthusiastically accepted, and remoored. Meanwhile, Scotts knot tying had let him down. Heading aft to get in the dinghy proved problematic when the dinghy wasn't there. In a strike of good fortune, it had washed up onto the beach amd was retrievable with a short swim of shame. Bowlines only from now I'm guessing. Oh and all that was just to get ashore so we could get some food.
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  • Day58

    St Croix, USVI

    December 14, 2016 on the U.S. Virgin Islands ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    Biggest sail to date: 35nm.

    Perhaps the most hectic few days on the trip, St Croix has been a real roller coaster ride!

    The island itself pops up from the sea bed like a white man in Tokyo Square. The coastline is home to several stretches of underwater sheer cliffs, some over 2000 feet tall. The ocean floor is said to plummet to over 25,000 feet, making it the second deepest body of water in the world. A diving spectacle not to be missed. Unfortunately for us, it was not to be. Here's why:

    The sail itself was rather entertaining. Apparently our crew is not overly accustomed to a rolling sea. Whist making breakfast, Jools decided to embrace the force of the ocean and tackle myself, his cereal bowl and a box of cornflakes from the galley into the head. Not anticipating the force of a grown man's tackle resulted in the both of us dangling off the bathroom door covered in a pool of cornflakes, at the concerned hilarity of the others. Another loss for Jools in Jools vs Boat.

    Scott also provided further entertainment with the inevitable onset of seasickness. Forcing his cereal down over the space of around two hours, at a peak pace of three cheerios and two oats per spoonful, Scott couldn't help himself. The fire bucket quickly became the vomit bucket as Scott emptied the contents of his stomach repeatedly for the remainder of the voyage. These actions were cause for concern for the crew as we searched for a cool breeze and a steady horizon. Too late for the seasickness drugs...

    Christiansted Harbour is tucked in behind a reef providing a safe haven for boats. Shallow draft boats only it would seem. After scraping through the channels and narrowly avoiding unmarked shipwrecks, we finally found a spot to anchor. Flirting with the bottom seems to be a national passtime here - so many charted anchorages leave you less than three feet clear.

    Upon anchoring we discovered a major problem. A weld in our forestay bracket had sheared in the trip over. This had caused the deck of the boat to begin to tear from the hull, and effectively turn the front of the boat into a crocodile's mouth. Major problem. In fact, we were lucky to still have mast!

    As the sun set and we mulled our problem over with beer and sunset on the waterfront, our fate sunk in. Prior to even getting an inspection we could tell this was a major. We also began a fruitless search of alternative transport off the island. Literally, the only commercial transport off the island was by seaplane, which only allowed one carry on bag per person. I needn't remind you how much gear we have. We were screwed.

    The next morning the admin began. After a myriad of phone calls and internet searches we finally found someone to take a look at the boat. A bloke named George at a nearby marina was our saving grace. Now George had just been shot after an altercation over an outstanding bill, and was currently operating on just three hours sleep, as he had us know. He seemed short fused so we trod carefully, we couldn't blow our only opportunity. Eventually, Jools found some common ground, literally, in Scotland and got George on our side.

    He made room for us on the fuel dock and inspected the boat immediately. He deemed it unsailable almost instantly (as we had expected). Great. We immediately consulted with the charter company and it was agreed the boat would be taken out and fixed in St Croix and it would not be ready until the new year...not good.

    We still had the option of resuming our charter on Windseeker - we were assured she was fixed - but she was in Tortola and we were about as far from Tortola as you can get...not even the same country!

    We spent the whole day trying to resolve this problem. Everyone on the island was friendly but nobody had a clue what they were talking about. Ferries do exist, ferries don't exist. Planes leave all the time, planes never leave. Try this place, this place has closed. How confusing and frustrating...could this be the end of our trip?

    Just before dark we had all had our wits end. We were seriously stumped and had resorted to beginning to consume our beer supply - we had to lighten the load somehow! Our only option was to fly two people back to St Thomas. Clear customs, check into BVI by ferry, taxi to the boat, stock her up, wait three days for the wind to settle down, sail six hours to St Croix, reclear US customs, pick up the other two with all the gear, check out and sail back to BVI. It was at five days worth of travel and transport the two of us would do alone. the other two would be twiddling their thumbs in the Caribbean heat...

    As we sat there and prepared for the worst, a bloke walked down our dock, notably lost. We sparked a conversation and after some typical boaties chat we discovered he was sailing his boat to Tortola at 8.30am the next day. We all exchanged shooting looks. After probing as to his crew carrying capacity (and explaining our conundrum) he insisted we join him and his crew for the journey and that all of our stuff (ALL our stuff!) wouldn't be a problem. Utterly dumbfounded at the perfect convenience of the opportunity, we gratefully accepted. What a stroke of luck (at last)!

    Craig and his boat Cheeky Monkey would be our ticket out. Funnily enough, Cheeky Monkey is also the name of Lou's old boat in Oconomowoc. Coincidence?

    Panic mode ensued as we frantically tried to pack up the boat, all the gear, all the food, reload Cheeky Monkey, clear customs and make arrangements for Anne's turn...it was 5pm and we were leaving first thing the next day!

    We ferried our gear to Cheeky Monkey that night (many dinghy trips...thanks guys) and got to know the crew over a beer or two (okay, three). They were in the process of rigging brand new sails, and were headed to Tortola for a yacht race on the Saturday. To make this incredible situation even more ridiculous, they were short of crew, I had recent experience in racing 40 footers and all of us happened to be willing to race. Furthermore, they were headed first to customs (where we needed to go) and then planned on spending the next night in Nanny Cay, a short dinghy ride from where Windseeker was currently berthed. So the deal was sealed and we were all very excited for what the next few days would bring. I am still struggling to find words to describe the astoundingly bittersweet contrast of this situation, and how luckily it came about.

    Up at the crack the next morning, we devoured the remainder of our refridgerated goods; ham, egg, avo, cheese and onion wraps. After faffing around at customs (seriously, those guys are on a different planet) and dropping off Anne's Turn, we headed out to Cheeky Monkey and began our voyage home - very grateful to be leaving our problems behind and reinforcing the wise decision to charter and not buy. The voyage was fantastic! A motley crew from all walks - a pilot, a mechanic, and two nurses - all ending up in St Croix for the island lifestyle. The beers and rum flowed and the tales of diving, fishing and sailing escalated as the boat ploughed onward. We even got a visit from the local dolphins. Later in the afternoon, Jason caught a fairly decent sized Mahi mahi on the troll and painted the cockpit red with blood whilst filleting it. He was the happiest man I've seen in a while! I should mention we were carrying a full rig in around 20 kts breeze (a hefty heel) and the bloke was half cut and filleting a fish. What a legend. As we arrived in calmer waters, the boat was heading for disarray: seasickness had painted the stern, rum and ginger lined the cabin and cockpit and a few of the boys were heading downhill at the mercy of the dreaded 'boat pour'.

    Tortola brought another ordeal with customs, eventually resolved with nothing but a smile and some warm words.

    An invitation was extended our way for dinner (said fish) and a race brief, so we hurriedly dinghied our gear from boat to boat. Unable to get a cab to the restaurant, the right thumb scored us a ride in another mariner's car - another stroke of luck. Jason had found us a restaurant and traded half his fish if they would serve us the other half. It was well and truely up there with the most delicious fish I've ever had. It was even good enough to stop us arguing the exorbitant price we paid for our own fish.

    Race day morning and our motley crew looked just that. Sifting around for bacon and gatorade, it was clear that having fun was going to be the priority on the water. The wind was, again blowing a solid 20+ with squalls getting up over 25 kts on a regular basis. Craig, backing up the tales of the previous day, again carried a full rig - and a full glass.

    It quickly be came evident that only four people on the boat knew how to race (myself and Felicity included). We also discovered, post start, that no one knew the course or the rules. Reassuringly, they also didn't know how to worry, and with that, we were set.

    The race weaved around the 'Drakes' - islands adjacent the Sir Francis Drake Channel - and threw hell at us. Squalls came and went like a horse on a carousel bringing stinging rain, powerful breeze and almost zero visibility. Testing conditions. On our approach to the final mark, a small tear in the headsail exploded, ripping leech to luff along the seam of a brand new sail. We couldn't believe it. With no spare headsails aboard we were finished. A really gutting finish to such a fun race. Dwelling in our misery was not an acceptable approach. We pick up our heads, cracked a beer and headed back to port.

    The afternoon was spend getting Windseeker ship shape. This didn't take long and we were soon on our way back to Norman Island for the night. We wined and dined aboard like old times sake before rejoining Cheeky Monkey at Willy T's - a floating bar in the anchorage. It got rowdy at a rate of knots and before we knew it we were bombing off the top deck. The next bright idea involved putting eight people in a dinghy and going to explore the nearby caves under the moonlit sky. Phosphlouresence glowed in the wake of the dinghy, before plunging into darkness inside the caves. Moving inward with our hands on the walls was cause for hilarity - coordination was impossible. It was a fantastic night with some fantastic new friends and we waved their sorry souls goodbye the next morning from a distance. They'd breathed life into our adventure with so much enthusiasm, we couldn't wait to continue the journey!
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  • Day87

    St John, USVI

    January 12, 2017 on the U.S. Virgin Islands ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    We're now four and although Dave will be missed, you and I both know the world is designed for fours. I'm feeling some heated rivalry of cards and dice coming up. This boat's nay short on competition!

    The boys are currently below the boat diving Santa Monica rocks - lots of speak of dinner, lets hope they walk the talk! We've got plans for St John and St Croix but the weather turns wild tomorrow and I'm not sure we want more forestay drama just yet.

    We've also booked Cuba for the end of January and our return flight is to Mexico, where we'll look to mosy south as far as dollar (or peso) allows. If you fancy a charity donation I take cash, card or bookings in my name! In the meantime, we'll turn the page on the Pirate phrasebook and pick up a Spanish one. Hola Senõr!

    Update:

    The swell has come in strongly and is battering exposed north and east coasts. The worst of the wind has passed but there's said to be more to come... We're holed up in St John, looking forward to some land based exploring and top notch snorkelling. Last night's anchor-dive-turned-crayfish-hunt proved successful and forced us to alter our dinner plans. I will never forget Scott with two arms clamped on a crusty under a rock. Looking for assistance, but unable to signal, Jools read his mind, swam down, and tugged him out by his chest, cray in hand. Hysterical tomfoolery at the ocean floor.

    Customs are again playing games with us. Hopefully I can extend my Visa to get off these islands!

    Second update: Terry's bay Crayfish Massacre

    That evening's underwater shenanigans were the start of many more in Rendezvous Bay. Combined efforts of boys and girl saw crayfish for dinner four nights in a row - an underwater massacre instigated by none other than Scottfish himself. By the time the fourth night rolled around, the infamous canned chicken was looking like a roast bird on Christmas day!

    But the treats did not come without consequence. We were hunting in terrain rich with spiny urchins (you know the black ones? Super spiny!). All four of us were spined (some more than others) at various underwater locations (remember we're just wearing shorts and gloves). The worst off was undoubtedly Jools who, after staking out an urchin free hole, was duly surprised when his decent sized catch dragged him through a nearby bed of the spiny buggers! His wounds were a sight to behold. That evening was spent with a pair of tweasers and two bowls of warm vinegar. The next day Jools tried to avoid further injury by sticking to windsurfing, only to return to the boat with more blood - nobody was surprised. Meanwhile, I was dropping catches left, right and center as we had crays swimming backwards for their lives as we got increasingly creative in our hunting methods - even so far as to incorporate the boat oars! All of our dives took place on the same stretch of coast (south of St John), over no more than 2nm of it...and only one dive was with SCUBA. The thrill of the hunt has us hooked, but we're still playing by the rules and there's been an increasing number of catch and releases as we mature as hunters. Scott however, won't pass a bug without giving it a cheeky tug on the antler...child...

    Rendezvous bay had more to offer than just food. Having really just stumbled across the place, we were delighted in what it offered. The water was flat, super flat. The bay was largely deserted, save for the odd day trip charter. The anchorage was free (few and far between on St John). The water was clear, I'm talking at least 20m vis on the good days. And the snorkelling was epic; we made friends with the resident turtle, Terry, whom we literally watched eat breakfast every morning - same spot, same time. Eddy and Elma the eagle rays also made regular appearances, along with Steve the stingray and his parasitic fish friends and of course, the many members of Terry's family. Quite the underwater zoo! Oh, and if you think I've gone crazy by naming all my aquatic friends, you're right. But you should hear me talking to them!

    Now you can see why our accidental night at Rendezvous turned into four. The only drawback was frequent, heavy and frustratingly short downpours which kept the hatches closed and boat hot.

    We ventured along the coast during a few of the days to explore the National Park that is, largely, St John. A 'top five things to do' list had us hiking the Reef Bay Trail on a blustery day. After ascending for a good few sweaty hours, we reached the top of the trail. Unfortunately for us, the top of the trail finished a few hundred yards short of the peak of the island. Somewhat dumbfounded we asked around and discovered there was no way to get to the peak, or any nearby peaks, and our best bet was to get on a bus and go climb a headland. It was impossible to see the ocean from anywhere, save for a glimpse from atop a brick wall. National Park you say.

    Bitterly, and in denial, we continued to ask around. A local assured us of "Great views" on an alternative route back to the boat. We followed it and arrived at the beach, again with little more than a glimpse of the ocean. We loitered through a mosquito infestation and had our packed lunch on the beach in the pouring rain. Not quite how we planned it, and thoroughly disappointed, but it's hard to make us unhappy when we're eating orzo pasta.
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  • Day2

    Was that St Croix

    January 6 on the U.S. Virgin Islands ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    Because we slept through it. Still exhausted so we slept until about 3pm. I think that means we slept about 24 hours! We will be back in this port next cruise so it didn't matter that we missed it.

    From the ship the port town looked like a dump.

    Once I surfaced I explored the ship. It holds about 2100 guests. The outside pool area is noisy with loud music but there's a closed in one which is quieter.

    As we are in aqua class we have access to various spa facilities like the turkish bath, steam rooms, sauna, heated lounges and so on.

    We also have a separate restuarant but can use the main dining room as well. There is also a buffet restaurant that is open most of the time. And lets not forget the ice cream/frozen yogart bar!

    Lots of bars and lounges and a grill cafe near the pool.

    There are also various speciality restaurants and a coffee and gelato cafe where you pay.

    Shops, casino, theatre, game arcade, spa, hair salon, gym, basketball court, jogging track make up the rest of the facilities.

    We mainly stayed in our cabin and I went back and forth getting the food. A brilliant food day of pizza, mousse and ice cream!

    Complaints so far are air conditioning not very good in the cabin and some parts of the ship during the day, no internet unless you pay a fortune, no usb port in room, no powerpoint near bed and no guest laundry so $11US to get a dress washed - as if - but all typical on a cruise.
    Bathroom is tiny but thats ok. I think a bath should be included for the price.

    You can feel the ship move and it jolts sometimes. Its an older ship (20 years) so maybe thats why it is not as smooth as the newer ones. On our Alaskan cruise we didn't feel the ship move at all.

    Its due to dry dock so it can be totally gutted and re done in March so the cruises will probably be more expensive on this ship.

    The staff are great, the food good (except for the hot chocolate which is rubbish) and its relaxing. And the pina coladas could have more cream!

    The shore excursions are very expensive for what they are. A simple ride around an island can be as much as $150US and a dropoff at and return from a beach $50US.
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  • Day8

    St. Thomas {Charlotte Amalie}

    December 14, 2018 on the U.S. Virgin Islands ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    Die Anthem of the Seas legte in der Crown Bay an. Kleinere Schiffe können auch an einem anderen Kai anlegen, der etwas näher zur Innenstadt liegt.
    St. Thomas ist das einzige Gebiet der USA (Unincorporated and organized territory) wo Linksverkehr herrscht.

    Ansonsten eine überschaubare Insel. Online einen Scooter gebucht. Mit dem Sammeltaxi nach Havenspoint gefahren. Online Buchung hat nicht funktioniert. Ärger kommt auf. Der junge Mann leiht uns seinen eigenen Roller.
    Während Assi von hinten immer fahr links rief, habe ich versucht den Schlaglöchern auszuweichen.
    In Magens Bay gebadet. Der Strand soll zu den 10 schönsten der Welt gehören. Das Wasser war angenehm warm, wie Mallorca im Sommer. Es geht immer etwas Wind, was die hohe Luftfeuchtigkeit erträglich macht. 2 x haben uns kurze tropische Schauer überrascht.
    Rechtzeitig an Bord, tolle Dusche, tolles Essen, tolle Unterhaltung, u.a. bei Love and Marriage!!!
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  • Day172

    St. Thomas to St. John USVI

    March 10, 2016 on the U.S. Virgin Islands ⋅ ⛅ 79 °F

    We “quickly” sailed downwind to St. Thomas to pick up Corey and Jamie in the large harbor of Charlotte Amalie.
    It’s a large flat sandy harbor so we picked any old spot away from the ferries only to find that seaplanes had their own unofficial runway at our stern, which we found to be entertaining. Their plane landed right as we anchored so we jetted straight to the airport…. And just in time I might add…. As we bumped into good ole Corey & Jamie at the airport (who had been giddily sipping free rum samples), they immediately steered us over to a long line for car rentals…. Asking us if we recognized anyone… and by George …of all the gin joints… our college friend Sarah whom, we both met through NEUs outdoor club NUHOC, was standing there! We had traveled thousands of miles away from home over the course of 6 months and, still, we serendipitously bumped into friends from home. Everyone was engulfed in hugs and disbelief asking the same dumbfounded question “Wow, what-the, when, how are you?!?!?!”Because Mike & I were so organized our first order of business was to go grocery shopping in St. Thomas. Fun! Our first night we ate out in town, arriving just in time for happy hour. With beer and cocktails in hand, we made a game plan for the next 5 days – Circumnavigate ST. JOHN! Before leaving we meandered the town of Charlotte Amalie, known for its jewelry district. I found the Dutch influence in architecture to be of far greater interest; the buildings were made-up of old weathered stone walls with thick heavy wooden doorways and fat metal latches beautifully fashioned from a time period I can only imagine.

    St. John, day 1: We beat into the wind (‘beat’ is sailing jargon for bashing the bow of your sailboat into or close to the wind – aka not fun sailing) to St. John and hooked onto a National Park mooring. We snorkeled the area, spotting several stingrays and a turtle and the next morning we ran the dinghy onto shore in Reef Bay.
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  • Day173

    St. Johns Reef Bay

    March 11, 2016 on the U.S. Virgin Islands ⋅ ⛅ 79 °F

    At Reef Bay:
    There are ruins of an old sugar mill in great condition complete with an old steam engine built in Glasgow, Scotland. Being the hiking fans we are, we chose to keep hiking and explored the petroglyphs of Reef Bay. These stone carvings are thought to represent a spiritual place for the Taino, Arawak people from pre-Columbian times (anywhere between 600-1,000 years ago). As a kid, I like most, wanted to be Indiana Jones. So crouching down on this uneven rock near a flat pool of water, it was… exciting… to think; 600 years ago someone in this exact spot was carving this image into the stone to honor the spirits and that’s how they spent their day.Read more

  • Day178

    Scuba Time St. James USVI

    March 16, 2016 on the U.S. Virgin Islands ⋅ ⛅ 81 °F

    Again alone on Gaia, we provisioned diesel, dinghy fuel, water, laundry and refilled scuba tanks in Redhook, St. Thomas. We made a quick motor around the bend to Christmas Cove on St. James and partook in the novelty of Pizza Pi, a steel-hulled sailboat that will serve pizza via VHF & dinghy. A nice and fun treat! We fell in love with Christmas Cove and since the moorings were free… stayed a few nights. We dove on Calf Rock (3/4 mile dinghy ride WSW). It was a fun little dive where beginner divers become certified, actually, where Mike got his very own PADI cert years back. We ended up navigating through some narrow valleys in the rock, which proved to be really fun UNTIL… Mike picked up a broken off piece of coral with a neat little brittle star crawling on it, then dropped it. The shell swirled and swiveled round and round ever so delicately skimming my lower thigh just below where my shortie wetsuit cut off. For such a slight and momentary contact, it felt extremely sharp but I paid no attention to it for the first few minutes. My leg began stinging immensely and the area of contact felt tingly. I’m no expert but I know the words tingly and stinging don’t belong when you’re 40 feet underwater in a rock slit. So I motioned for us to return directly back to the dinghy something was not okay. On our return we followed a turtle, saw a grouper, and Mike even touched a trunkfish!

    Back on the boat I cleaned the wound with salt water and vinegar. I had read somewhere you should use salt water as opposed to fresh and vinegar will reduce the sting. It worked but I had a patch of bumpy irritated skin, which lasted for a few weeks. We ended up identifying the cause of the irritation as fire coral. Fire coral can grown on anything. So watch out!

    Once I got over the trauma of my scuba buddy slashing me with fire coral…. We went diving again. We dinghied due south to an extended point of rocks called The Stragglers; hooked onto a mooring and descended next to the rocks. At 25 feet we heard a boat engine. I looked at Mike & tried to decompress my BCD so I’d sink further to the bottom and closer to him. Hearing the motor get closer, I looked behind me and to the surface and I’ll be damned! A medium-sized powerboat went right over our heads! I was more angry than scared that time… We continued onward and sure enough I heard another engine. This time I kept turning in circles to see if I could locate the boat. No sighting of it but I was breathing hard out of fear. I reminded myself we were in 30 feet of water and floating close to the coral heads and continued the dive until I was cold. Those two encounters served as a strong reminder that the safest place to descend and ascend is on your mooring ball line; that and there are a lot of stupid and oblivious boaters out there. (Respect dive flags, and popular snorkeling/dive spots boaters! And don’t be wanker watch where you anchor!)

    The caves are from Normans Island where the dreaded Willy T resides
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Virgin Islands of the United States, Amerikanische Jungferninseln, U.S. Virgin Islands, V.S. Maagde-eilande, Amɛrika Virgin Islands, የአሜሪካ ቨርጂን ደሴቶች, جزر فرجين الأمريكية, ABŞ Virqin Adaları, Віргінскія астравы, ЗША, САЩ, Вирджински острови, Ameriki ka Sungurunnin Gun, মার্কিন ভার্জিন দ্বীপপুঞ্জ, Inizi Gwercʼh ar Stadoù-Unanet, S.A.D. Devičanska Ostrva, Illes Verges nord-americanes, Americké Panenské ostrovy, Ynysoedd Americanaidd y Wyryf, De amerikanske jomfruøer, U.S. Vɛrgin ƒudomekpowo nutome, Αμερικανικές Παρθένοι Νήσοι, Usonaj Virgulininsuloj, Islas Vírgenes de los Estados Unidos, USA Neitsisaared, Birjina uharte amerikarrak, جزایر ویرجین ایالات متحده, Duuɗe Kecce Amerik, Yhdysvaltain Neitsytsaaret, Sambandsríki Amerikas Jómfrúoyggjarnar, Îles Vierges des États-Unis, Oileáin na Maighdean S.A.M., Illas Virxes Estadounidenses, યુ.એસ વર્જિન આઇલેન્ડ, Tsibiran Birjin Ta Amurka, איי הבתולה האמריקניים, अमेरिकी वर्जिन टापू, Američki Djevičanski Otoci, Amerikai Virgin-szigetek, Kepulauan U.S. Virgin, Bandarísku jómfrúaeyjar, Isole Vergini Americane, 米領ヴァージン諸島, Visiwa vya Virgin vya Marekani, ಯು.ಎಸ್. ವರ್ಜಿನ್ ದ್ವೀಪಗಳು, 미국령 버진 아일랜드, Bizinga bya Virigini eby'Amerika, Bisanga bya Vierzi ya Ameriki, ຢູເອສເວີຈິນໄອແລນ, Mergelių salos (JAV), Lutanda lua Vierzi wa Ameriki, ASV Virdžīnas, Nosy Virijiny Etazonia, Девствени Острови на САД, യു.എസ്. വെര്‍ജിന്‍ ദ്വീപുകള്‍, यू.एस. व्हर्जिन बेटे, ယူအက်စ် ဗာဂျင်း ကျွန်းစု, De amerikanske jomfruøyene, संयुक्त राज्य भर्जिन टापु, Amerikaanse Maagdeneilanden, Dei amerikanske jomfruøyane, ୟୁଏସ୍ ଭର୍ଜିନ୍ ଦ୍ବୀପପୁଞ୍ଜ, Wyspy Dziewicze Stanów Zjednoczonych, Ilhas Virgens dos EUA, Inslas Verginas Americanas, Amazinga y'Isugi y'Abanyamerika, Insulele Virgine S.U.A., Виргинские о-ва (США), Âzûâ Virîgo tî Amerîka, ඇමරිකානු වර්ජින් දූපත්, Panenské ostrovy - USA, Ameriški Deviški otoki, Zvitsuwa zveAmerika, С.А.Д. Девичанска Острва, Amerikanska Jungfruöarna, யூ.எஸ் கன்னித் தீவுகள், యు.ఎస్. వర్జిన్ దీవులు, หมู่เกาะยูเอสเวอร์จิน, ʻOtumotu Vilikini fakaʻamelika, ABD Virgin Adaları, Віргінські острови США, امریکی ورجن آئلینڈز, Quần đảo Virgin, Mỹ, Orílẹ́ède Etikun Fagini ti Amẹrika, 美属维京群岛, i-U.S. Virgin Islands

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