25 Mar – 03 Apr: Brewers Bay to Lameshur Bay, US Virgins – 18 18N 64 43W
We had a lovely sail across from Culebrita in the Spanish Virgin Islands to St Thomas, our first stop in the US Virgin Islands. We were hard on the wind again, but the breeze was light and the seas flat, and when a couple of catamarans left the anchorage with us it was race on and a tacking dual ensued. Both catamarans were flying German flags (red rag to a bull for skipper) and just as we were about to claim victory they veered off for a different destination, spoilsports!
We stopped just one night in Brewers Bay, clear water, white sandy beach, flat seas, great wifi – what more could you want? Oh, did I mention the adjacent airport, excellent for plane spotting and it wasn’t TOO noisy. We met up and had a great night with Brits Mark and Sue on Macushla who we first met back in Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands and although we have kept in regular contact on our daily SSB Radio Net we hadn’t crossed paths since.
Next day we moved a few more miles around to the capital, Charlotte Amalie. We entered through the western channel and passed a couple of hundred yachts, anchored and moored – the most we had seen since Georgetown in the Bahamas, plus there were 2 cruise ships docked, back to civilisation and tourism we thought – and then we got to the busy bit!! 3 more ginormous cruise ships were docked downtown, super yachts lay squeezed together fender to fender in the marina, and the harbour was choked full of private yachts of all shapes and sizes and amazingly the odd turtle.
We had been warned the Virgin Islands were busy, but we didn’t mind - there was just so much to watch, float planes landing and taking off through the yachts under sail, party boats full of rum punched pink skinned holidaymakers, all manner of floating vessels providing harbour cruisers day and night, cruise ships and super yachts coming and going, and the odd mad kayaker, windsurfer or kitesurfer weaving there way through– it was all on for young and old.
Evenings were spent socializing, we had caught back up with Koza, Americans on C-Time who we had done our inland travel with in Dominican Republic, Brits on Miss Molly who we last saw in Grenada 2 years ago arrived, as did Brits on Goldcrest – last seen on their previous boat Red Panda in Malta. For a few days life turned into a social whirlwind, it was just great. It is the people we meet along the way that truly make this lifestyle enjoyable and this season has been excellent, meeting new friends and reconnecting with old.
Ashore the town seemed totally geared to the cruise ship market, a stroll along the waterfront had us passing Gucci and Prada stores with minimalistic window displays of one handbag apiece, top end jewellery stores by the dozen occupied well renovated old brick storehouses and duty free liquor stores offered every brand of alcohol imaginable.
Across the road the outdoor market displayed the usual tourist fare of t-shirts, sunhats and sarongs. Sensibly we didn’t venture ashore when there were about 8,000 cruise ship passengers out shopping, instead we went for a look on a cruise ship free day and the place was almost a ghost town.
Koza had moved on to nearby Christmas Cove and Jim (a serious multi hull racer from Brisbane) had got talking to the owner of Hotel California Too a 70ft Santa Cruz race boat anchored nearby participating in the St Thomas Regatta and had got himself a crew position and had managed to get Mark one too.
So we had an early start out of Charlotte Amalie and were anchored in Christmas Cove on Great St James Island before 8am. Mark and Jim had a blast of a time racing on Hotel California Too and they took line honours in every race. The final evening party and prize giving of any regatta always has a unique atmosphere and was a lot of fun. The owner was keen to keep his new gun crew together and asked Jim and Mark to crew for him again in the upcoming British Virgin Islands Regatta with further talk of St Barths and Antigua Race weeks. One step at a time I said, BVI’s yes, the others – well we will see!
Finding Some Peace & Quiet
Our English friends Rob & Sarah on Serafina joined us in Christmas Cove, it was great to see them again. We had left Maine together last September on a day sail down the coast then ended up in different anchorages and never caught them again, it was great to finally reconnect.
We both moved on along the southern coast of St John and picked up mooring buoys in the National Park anchorage of Great Lameshur Bay, geographically only 15 miles away from the capital but in reality locked in another far more peaceful world.
We had a couple of days enjoying our surroundings, did a long hike to some elusive rock carvings (must have missed a turn somewhere) but instead found the ruins of a house that was once home to sugar plantation owners, the paths from the bay deep below were well overgrown, surrounding trees were engulfing the remains. The National Park (the island donated many years ago by the Rockefeller family) was interesting, we saw mongoose and deer on our walk then snorkelled the edges of the bay and swam with turtles.
Off To The British Virgin’s For More Racing