So, St. Croix was a blast! We met some good people and shared a few laughs. Our new friends Dylan and Gabe even came out to the boat for cocktails. If they represent the future of medicine in the U.S. I think we’ll be okay. Then on to St. John. A screaming 40 mile sail under reefed main and jib got us there in just over 4 hours! That’s right; 10knots! Most of St. John is a National Park so you must use their moorings. It is very convenient since there are quite a few and rarely are they all taken. Even in this Covid year when no-one is going to the BVI due to the restrictions on travel back and forth. There are many more charter boats than is normal according to the rangers we spoke to. The moorings weren’t here 23 years ago when last we cruised these waters, but they eliminate the damage to coral and the turtle grass.
We met up with old friends Steve and Linda to celebrate Steve’s birthday before they head off to the Med. Good luck you two and we hope to see you again somewhere. Then off to the south side of the island for some sweet diving and grueling hikes. We spent several days in Great Lameshur Bay, a quiet, calm spot with beautiful views. The diving was good with 100′ visibility at times. We even found the Big “T”. Back in the 60’s and 70’s NASA and the Geodetic survey had a research lab 50′ underwater where they would spend long periods confined doing whatever they did. Anyway there is now a large titanium “T” on the sea floor to mark the spot. Nearby is a fabulous reef structure with great marine life. We did several dives and Nancy even went on her first night dive! Lots of activity but unfortunately, no lobster.
We hiked all the trails in the area, one was straight up the mountain for 1 1/2 miles with nothing at the top but a few goats. The other, a 7 mile round-trip took us to some amazing petroglyphs created by Taino people 1,000 years ago. They are carved into the rock at the rim of a fresh-water spring which is at the base of a seasonal waterfall. The area has a very mystical feel to it and one feels very centered and insignificant at the same time. Awesome! Nancy and I were fortunate to be the only people there for nearly an hour. As we were going back down the trail we met two large groups heading up, whew; near miss! Farther along that hike are the remains of the last sugar factory on the island. The mill was originally horse-powered, but in 1862 it converted to steam. The magnificent steam engine is still in place, and the processing room is mostly intact as well. Much of the trail, which runs from Lameshur Bay to Reef Bay, was as wide as a road. Because it was carved into the side of the mountain by slaves who had to carry sheaves of sugar cane down from the hills to the factory. The amount of stonework in the fills and retaining walls is impressive!
We sailed around to the north side and spent a few days in Francis Bay. It was cloudy and rainy and dare I say it? Chilly. I took the opportunity to dig out some ham hocks and a bag of 15 bean soup and made a giant pot of ham and bean soup with skillet cornbread. We invited the neighboring cruisers for Sunday dinner and had a good turnout. Thanks, Bill and Diane and Will, Jeff and Don, for sharing your stories, it reminds us we’re all in the same figurative boat. Then off to Leinster Bay to snorkel at Waterlemon cay. This was one of the places we enjoyed 23 years ago. The little cay was teeming with coral and marine life. Today it is a wasteland. Destroyed by hurricane Irma. Sad to see the ruins. However, there is some new growth, especially sea fans and barrel sponges. But it will take millennia for the coral to reassert itself, as much of it grows only a few centimeters per year.
We are now in Caneel Bay, which is just around the corner from the main town of Cruz Bay. Yesterday we made a provision run and filled our larder with food, and the dinghy tank with gas. $8.50 U.S./gal at the dock but only $5.50 across town. We walked for 3 gallons! But we had the best meal yet on the island at the Terrace, a local lunch favorite behind the fire station. Not a tourist in sight. Now, with food loaded, we’re getting Covid tested for the Bahama’s. We plan to hop along these islands for a couple weeks then on to the Chesapeake Bay.