12 March 2008 | Sopers Hole, Tortola
The passage to Charlotte Amalie, the main town on St. Thomas was just as we had come to expect; 25kts of wind and seas 6ft+ both right on the nose. However, we motor-sailed well and by 11.45am had covered the 32 miles to St, Thomas and were safely at anchor in the harbour. Someday Came again made the passage with us, but headed for one of the local marinas as they had some repairs that they wanted to sort out.
The St. Thomas Harbor anchorage is a large, well protected area with good holding. There is the occasional roll, but we ended up spending a comfortable five nights there. Charlotte Amalie is a major cruise ship destination, and the anchorage here snuggles up to the cruise ship dock. We decided to anchor away from the cruise ships and dropped the hook just across from the Yacht Haven Grande, a relatively new marina catering mainly to the many mega-yachts cruising the area. And a very impressive marina it is too with a variety of shops, restaurants and bars along with the usual marine facilities. We would sometimes venture here to indulge in an early morning coffee and internet access, but tended to stay out of Louis Vuitton, Diamonds International, Salvatore Ferragamo, and Bulgari which were a little out of our usual price range! Always, as we dinghied up to the dock, we would be greeted by 2 or 3 brown pelicans whose job, it appeared, was to hang around the marina entrance looking disapprovingly at anyone foolish enough to want to walk on their pontoon or approach the rocky area surrounding it. Occasionally they would reluctantly raise enough energy to dive into the shallows if some unsuspecting fish proved to be too much of a temptation. Other than that they would pick out the sunniest spot and simply watch the world go by.
As we mentioned earlier, Charlotte Amalie caters to many cruise liners and while we were there we saw anything up to 6 ships in the port at one time. The cruise ship dock, it seems, even runs out of space occasionally and we returned to Magic one day to find a liner nonchalantly at anchor amongst the cruising boats! We were quite glad that we had picked a spot at the other side of the anchorage.
After 5 nights in Charlotte Amalie the weather finally settled down enough for us to move on again. We decided to top up on fuel at Crown Bay and were thrilled to find the Queen Mary 2 moored just across the dock as we approached. Amazingly, later in the day we were anchored close to 'Blue Guitar', Eric Clapton's motor yacht although sadly he did not appear to be on board. The Queen Mary 2 however sailed right past our anchorage on her way out of port and we were able to capture her and Blue Guitar together 'on film' as Mary made her way to sea.
Our next stop was Christmas Cove on Great St. James Island which, although pretty was also very crowded and for a few reasons was not one of our favourite spots. However, from there we moved on to St. John and we loved it here. Much of St. John is a national park and we had been told that the snorkelling here was terrific. In addition, divers were allowed to take certain amounts of lobster and conch (if you could find them!). Dave was in his element and couldn't wait to get into the water. We picked up a mooring in Francis Bay where, we had heard, there was good snorkelling and although it was not a spot to hunt in, Dave donned his wetsuit and off we went. We had a very nice snorkel, but Dave had his eye on Johnson reef where, he was sure, there would be lobster. The reef however was exposed and the sea was still not calm enough to go there. Reluctantly we moved on to the next bay, Waterlemon, as our time was running short. We needed to be in the BVI;s within a day or so to meet Amy, Lorna, Scott and Daniel who were arriving for a two week vacation with us.
But what a treat we had in Waterlemon Cay. The bay was beautiful and the snorkelling off the cay was the most spectacular we had experienced yet. We saw turtles cruising within feet of Magic and one evening a Spotted Eagle Ray cruised majestically under the boat. We wanted to stay for more, but now we really had to move on, so on March 12th we dropped our mooring in Watermelon Cay and prepared for our long passage, all 2 miles of it, to the British Virgin Islands!