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David and I talk about the fun to suck ratio a lot. The USVI was a strong mix, heavier on the suck than we would like it to be. Here’s about our fun time.
After leaving Nanny Cay Friday afternoon, we went straight to Soper’s Hole / West End to stay the night. We awoke early in the morning to go clear out. Unfortunately the C&I office has a ferry dock right next door. The officers only assist private yachts after the ferry passengers, so we ended up waiting a while…should have gone to JVD!
When we cleared out, we immediately left for the USVI. We arrived at Cruz Bay, St John to clear into the United States. When you enter the bay, there is a channel on the left. To the left of the channel is room to anchor. We took the spot of a catamaran leaving, but by the time we got back to the boat the little anchorage was full of catamarans! There’s plenty of room, in part because its shallow so you don’t need a lot of scope out.
Clearing in was easy and we stalled a few minutes to stop at the National Parks Office to pick up this awesome map, and the Dolphin Market grocery store for a few items. We moved off to Christmas Cove, our furthest point west we plan on going up here.
Christmas Cove is on Little St James Island, just across from Red Hook, St Thomas. The bay is long and narrow, with about 12 moorings in it. The moorings are free, but you get what you pay for. Some of them are nothing but plow anchors – and not very big ones. Ours was bolted into the ground, and the rope leading up to the ball which we dove to inspect. After I snorkeled the mooring, I wandered over to our neighbor, Fault Tolerant. We had first seen FT in Booth Bay Maine, back in August. They arrived in the large but empty anchorage just before dark and were gone when we woke up. Now we got to meet the crew – Joe and TJ.
Having just come from the haul out at Nanny Cay, Starry Horizons was very dirty. We also had piles and piles of laundry to do. David spent the afternoon and early evening cleaning Starry Horizons’ deck, even scrubbing in the rain!
We stopped for lunch – the eagerly anticipated Pizza Pi VI! We ordered a pepperoni and sausage pizza, and it was delicious!
After I started the last load of laundry (for the day) I set off to burn some energy with a snorkel. I started at the shore near Pizza Pi, and swam south, following the shore line. While the shore tended to be gravel or rocks, there was ALWAYS reef just about 20′ out from the shore. I swam all the way to the southern point, and then to the center islands, named Fish Cay.
As I snorkeled along, I dived close to inspect a head of mustard hill coral, only to realize, perhaps a foot away, that it was not entirely coral. The instant I realized this, the imitation started expanding and turning white – scuttling away in the form of an octopus. It was a truly wild moment – I just happened to pick the right head of coral.
In the late afternoon, we got a fancy pants neighbor, Venus, the mega yacht commissioned by Steve Jobs in 2011.
Around 4 pm, TJ and Joe came over for happy hour. We enjoyed chatting with them and one thing let to another…..next thing you know they’ve given us a tour of FT, we’ve all had a few drinks, and Pizza Pi has been ordered!
It was so fun to talk to TJ and Joe. They’ve been hanging out here for a while, and the owners are flying in next week. Just like with Spike and Anna on Tribe, Joe and TJ seemed to enjoy their job and like their bosses!
Monday, I continued the laundry cycle and waiting with ants in my pants for our friends Frank and Mary Grace on Let it Be. LIB is Helia hull number 4, and they just pulled her out of charter this summer. You can read all about them on their blog, but we first met them in February 2014, and have become good friends ever since. As the last load of laundry was drying I got to hang out at our helm and watch for signs of LIB.
Let it Be, Let it Be, Let it Be…Starry Horizons
Slacker that I am, David spotted them first and we hailed them on the radio. It took a little while for LIB to get settled – finding a spot they were comfortable in and then taking their dog Captain for a potty break – but then they made their way over. Hugs all around, we gave them a tour of Starry Horizons, cracked open some drinks, and of course, called Pizza Pi.
Tuesday morning as soon as there were signs of life on both boats we headed over to LIB and it was our turn to get the grand tour. It was amazing to get to see another real life live aboard Helia. While it is obviously very similar, there are a lot of differences between our boats. LIB has the original interior colors, the four cabins, and the coffee table set up, in addition to their own personal touches.
David and Frank were off poking their heads in bilges and storage space. Mary Grace showed me some of her favorite touches around the boat and we talked galleys and storage. Then Frank gave us (but especially me) a special treat – fresh coconut water!
Frank had to head over to Red Hook for an errand (via dinghy), so David went back to Starry Horizons to tackle a project and MG and I puttered in her galley and made a salad dressing to go with dinner that night.
When Frank returned, MG and I went paddleboarding! We took Captain with us, and paddled around the mooring field, weaving through the boats and spotting sea turtles. We did get in a sticky spot where the wind was blowing us really hard on the outer edge of the cove, and I was struggling to make some headway but I did it! Not too bad for my second paddleboarding experience.
Next we headed for a snorkel, this time instead of heading south we went north. I’m so glad we did, it was the best spot of snorkeling in the whole cove! It reminded me of the painted walls we dived with Dalit and Noam, every inch of rock had coral on it. My favorite were these stunning blue tubes. We also saw a shoal of 17 squids (or a squad, if you prefer)!
After snorkeling, MG and I split ways to get ready for dinner. We had the LIB crew over for dinner – the last whole skip jack tenderloin. I couldn’t think of better people to share it with. MG had baked cookies but left them in LIB, so we made it a progressive meal and headed to LIB for delicious cookies and an after dinner drink of a Deep Eddy Ruby Red Martini.
The next morning we headed out for one last activity with Frank and Mary Grace – a snorkel. And it was a good one! We went back to the spot MG and I explored the day before and we spotted a sea turtle, lobster and a nurse shark!
Back on LIB we ordered one more round of Pizza Pi. All told, David and I had taken part in consuming seven pizzas while in Christmas Cove! Yes, the pizza was very good. I loved that this was not your standard offerings; instead of choices like four cheese or everything, we had special Pizza Pi unique choices. My favorite was the Sweet Home Indiana – pickled corn, sage sausage, white sauce and spinach. Totally unique!
And then we had to watch LIB leave. It was sad. We spent two more nights in Christmas Cove by ourselves.
When we pulled into Francis Bay, there were two familiar boats there – Fault Tolerant and Archer. We said a quick hello to FT, but they were leaving that afternoon. We hadn’t met Rick and Julie on Archer before, but we had seen them in Nanny Cay. Their boat is a beautiful Outremer 51, bright red and hard to miss!
The next morning, Saturday, we went for a little snorkel but didn’t see anything spectacular. But later we had Rick & Julie over for drinks, and talked about their amazing stories out at sea – they’ve been sailing for a long time, on many different boats, with Archer being their first catamaran.
The next morning they invited us over for a tour of Archer, and of course, we happily came over. There are an amazing number of similarities between the two boats, but we walked away with some ideas for wish list projects…
Afterward, I went for a quick walk up to the Francis Bay Pond and ruins. As I pulled the dinghy up, it started to rain, so I had to duck under the cover of the trees. As the rain left, I got a treat of a double rainbow. But then the mosquitoes came out! I did not bring any bug spray, so I just decided to walk very quickly. The first part of the trail was entirely raised boardwalk, and on either side, there were hundreds of small, red crabs. In fact, I had a hard time determining what they were. I could just see the brief movement before they disappeared into their holes. Then I realized that I wasn’t really seeing the body of the crab, but their one enormous red claw.
Monday, we got to meet the crew of Sail Pending, a Lipari.
Wednesday we headed over to Charlotte Amelie for work. When we arrived, we decided we needed at least some fun, so we went out to Hook, Line & Sinker for dinner. We stayed one night in Charlotte Amelie on a mooring with CYOA.
To get out of the “city” and off the mooring, we moved to Honeymoon Bay. There is a bar, Dinghy’s, where we had a cocktail and some wifi.
On Sunday we moved over to Lindbergh Bay, to be close to the airport to pick up a package. We spent two nights there, and it was time to get the hell out of there!! It was not a particularly pretty bay.
We left Tuesday afternoon to motor sail to St Martin. Our next post will be all about the suck – our work we had to do, unexpectedly in the USVIs.
The best cruising guide for the Virgin Islands is the guide by Doyle: