St. John - US Virgin Islands
02 March 2013 | Jost van Dyke - BVI
Bert Party Cloudy
Last week we left the Christmas Cove in St. James Islands east of St. Thomas for St. John. St. John is for two third under the auspices of the National Park Service and has maintained its pristine appearance. To protect the underwater reefs and sea beds anchoring is strongly discouraged and in most coves and bays the Park Service placed mooring balls which they maintain. We did not have a lot of experience in using mooring balls and especially Dorothy was a little nervous since she has to catch the pendant. But practice makes perfect and we are now picking up the balls without any problem. The price the Park Service charges is only $15.00 a night and for senior citizens with a National Park Service Pass only $7.50.
There are only a few roads on St. John and most wind up at one or another of the island’s gorgeous white-sand beaches, framed by the tropical forest of Virgin Islands National Park. Trails wind through the ruins of Danish-colonial sugar plantations dating from the 18th century, when sugar, rum and slavery ruled St. John and the rest of the Caribbean. We walked the trails and visited the ruins and most of them are on places with the most beautiful views of the surrounding islands. Since everything is now covered with dense forest and the hills are steep it is difficult to imagine the locations of the sugar cane fields. A park service ranger told us the fields were on terraces with rock walls. This together with the ruins which clearly give the impression how great the buildings have been shows what the slaves have accomplished in that time. Yes, the ideas and design were done with European knowledge and ingenuity, but the hard work was done by the slaves living in very bad circumstances.
We first wanted to visit the south side of the island, but heavy swell made it very hard to get into the bays and coves and we don’t like to sleep in a rolling boat. So we sailed back to the north side of the island and chose as our first night stop Hawknest Bay. This is a beautiful bay with a very nice beach with some nice spots for snorkeling. During the day some rollers came into the bay from the heavy ferry traffic from St. Thomas to Tortola in the BVI. This was manageable with our floppers we hanged on the side of the boat to reduce the rolling. At night when the wind started to calm down and the angle the boat has in the water became perpendicular to the incoming wakes the rolling became so bad that it was hard to sleep.
So we left the next day to Francis Bay described by many people as the best. The bay has 4 distinct beaches with white sand and shade from the vegetation directly on the beach. One of areas in this bay is Maho Bay which has an eco-friendly resort with steep stairs from the beach up to the road and on the steep hillside many canvas covered cottages connected by stairs and wooden deck trails. This resort has a small shop with many other facilities. Dorothy did not like the stairs but it is a great location. Over the weekend Dorothy did not feel very well due to a cold and I had injured a few of ribs when I lost my balance and fell against the side of one of the winch and that was rather painful so we chose to have a nice lazy weekend just sitting in the cockpit and reading a book.
Our next stop was Leinster Bay and this was our best mooring. This is a small open bay with a small cay that protects the bay, Waterlemon Cay with a great shallow reef the best for snorkeling. We hiked to the Annaberg Plantation Ruins and another ruin just above our mooring and this looked like a home with the best view of all the surrounding islands. We only did not have internet connection so we returned to Francis Bay. In the bay was a large 180 feet sailing yacht and the crew had created a nice area on the beach with umbrellas, a bar, an elaborate BBQ, beautiful chairs and tables for the guests. The rest of the day the crew went up and down to refresh the supplies and ferry the guests. This represents good life of the rich and famous. But again we loved the beach and did some nice snorkeling and enjoyed our own good life.
But like I described before cruising is also had and sometimes dirty work; I had to disassemble the macerator pump used to empty our waste tank. You can only do this when the tank is empty and you cannot make it empty since the pump is not working. I will spare you the details, but we got it done and sailed to Jost Van Dyke Island in the BVI. Customs and immigration was very simple and we had our lunch in the world famous beach bar and restaurant Foxy. It was Friday and Foxy had its BBQ with live music and Dorothy and I partied like we are young again. The “Pain Killer” rum drink we both had a few of must have helped. The BBQ was the best and the music was exciting and we danced the night away. Today (03/02/13) we have a nice quiet day with some maintenance work and we are planning our next destination.