Pete and I arrived in St. Thomas to find Delphinus safe and snug at the American Yacht Harbor in Red Hook. The marina is a bustling place with lots of boats coming and going, and restaurants and shops lining the waterfront – everything geared toward the American tourist.
We caught up with our friends Bernie and Sherron Wahl, who arrived on the s/v Ballerina the day before we arrived. Pete’s first Caribbean 1500 was with Bernie about 10 years ago. The two have kept in touch over the years. We all enjoyed pizza and cold beer at the Island Time Pub, with a great view of the harbor, with Anthony, a crew member of Ballerina’s trip from Grenada, and James, our crew member.
After a couple of days of engine work and provisioning, we departed St. Thomas for Caneel Bay in St. John. Here we returned to the enjoyment and peace and quiet on a mooring ball in the harbor. We took a whole day and did nothing but read and relax. Ahh..back to the life of a cruiser. Caneel Bay is the site of a former sugar plantation and the ruins have been incorporated into a very nice resort.
We soon discovered that this is the rainy season here. The good news is that most of the rain comes during the night and early morning. The bad news is there is a hatch over my side of our bunk which we keep open to catch those nice breezes. Most nights I woke up after dreaming about water being sprayed in my face only to realize it was raining again. Oh well, it’s a small price to pay for being in paradise.
Next, we headed for Road Town in British Virgin Islands to catch up with a mechanic who will look at the port engine. As we entered British waters we acquired an escort of small yellow butterflies. They flitted all around the boat, rarely landing, and we continued to encounter them throughout the US and British Virgin Islands.
We stayed at the Fort Burt Marina, which turns out to be the home of Conch Charters, the company we chartered from 10 years ago. The Pub is still operating at the dock, which was the first place we tried conch fritters. Our son Brendan enjoyed them so much he tried them everywhere else we went in the BVI and became something of a conch fritter critic by the end of that charter trip. Pete and I stopped in this trip for old times sake.
As I’ve written before, the definition of cruising is fixing your boat in exotic places. In addition to the port engine issues that are now fixed, we had to replace the wind transducer (at the top of the mast) and run a new cable down through the mast. Here is Pete making the final connections at the base of the mast. The space he folded himself into actually under the settee in the salon. I think it took him longer to get himself into and out of that space than to make the final connections.
Our next stop in the BVI was Trellis Bay. The community there is somewhat of an artists colony. There is a large shop featuring the works of the local artisans and produce from organic farmers. We had lunch at the de Loose Mongoose, where Pete tried Roti, a West Indian curry stew served with a large wrap. It seems to be quite popular in the local restaurants.
Next we made the obligatory party stop in Great Harbour on Jost Van Dyke. This harbor is the home Corsairs Bar and Grill (best restaurant in the BVIs) and Foxy’s Bar (a favorite spot for cruisers). We enjoyed a great lunch at Corsairs, which looks more like a sailor/biker bar. The food was delicious.
I’ve mentioned in previous posts that the cruising community really is small. As we were returning to Delphinus from lunch on shore we were flagged down by a couple in another dinghy. We were delighted to see it was John and Jennifer Stallings from s/v Noel’s Delight. We originally met them in Emerald Bay in the Bahamas and then again in the marina when we limped into Southport, NC with our broken dinghy davit. We spent a fun afternoon swapping stories over cold beers followed by great wings and rum punch at Foxy’s. We hope to catch up again soon as we are both planning to head further south.
We headed back to US territory again and cleared customs in Cruz Bay, St. John. Unfortunately, we arrived right behind two ferry boats and had a long line to wait in. After lunch and grocery shopping we pulled up anchor and made our way to Francis Bay. This area and most of St. John are part of the US National Park Service (NPS), so the natural beauty is preserved.
Near Francis Bay is a partially restored sugar plantation, Annaberg Sugar Plantation, dating from the late 1700s. Look for the blocks of carved brain coral used in the doorway pictured below. As beautiful as the location is, I can’t imagine that the slaves who labored there found any joy in their surroundings.
We also stopped into Coral Bay, another eclectric artists community, located on the east side of St. John. It is one of the few places that allow anchoring so there are many live aboard sailors there. One entrepreneur built a floating bar in the middle of the harbor. There are small herds of goats that roam the community freely, keeping the grassy areas neatly trimmed.
We returned to Francis Bay and used the dinghy to explore the surrounding bays. Cinnamon Bay hosts a NPS campground, complete with small cabins, platform tents and a beautiful beach.
We snorkeled along a marked underwater trail on Trunk Bay (also maintained by the NPS). Another beautiful beach with lots of people visiting for the day.
As I finish writing this we are back in Red Hook getting Delphinus ready to rest while we head home for Christmas. We’re looking forward to seeing family and friends again and celebrating the holidays together.
Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the crew of Delphinus!
Stay tuned and stay in touch.