09 April 2013 | Road Bay, Anguilla, 18’12.08N 63’05.67W – Buck Island, St Croix, USVI, 17’47.17N 64’37.68W via Christiansted, St Croix, USVI.
We think that Ruffian’s speed instruments significantly under read. We were sure that Marty, from ‘Back to the Future’ fame, had to get the speed of his Delorean up to 88 miles an hour to activate the Flux Capacitor thus enabling him to go back in time. We seem to have gone back in time by only travelling at 8 miles an hour and not 88 mph on our trip from Anguilla to St Croix. In St Croix we have found what the Caribbean was like 20 years ago. There are no visiting boats, the deserted desert islands are truly deserted, the locals are surprised to see you and the cartographers haven’t been here to chart the reefs, rocks and wrecks that litter the coastline. We like it here.
St Croix was an overnight sail away from Anguilla and this meant sweets. The sweet packet was opened and very quickly Iain was put under ration control by Fiona. This however was not before he’d managed to sample the yellow, green and blue, bundles of e-numbers that were available for the first time in months. As the e-numbers cursed through Iain’s veins, with predictable results, Ruffian pushed onto St Croix with such speed that we had to stand off waiting for the sun to rise over this little piece of the US in the Caribbean. Finally with the sun up highlighting the reefs we made entry and were thankful of our US visas. There were all of 2 other visiting boats in the massive harbour; we were going to be a rarity.
St Croix really is US in the Caribbean. We were charmed by the town and felt compelled to point out every piece of Americana. We smiled and laughed as we came across fire hydrants, sports bars, newspaper stands, massive SUV’s, mail boxes and we even saw the iconic yellow school busses. The locals must have thought that those backward Limies came from not just another country but another century. Maybe it was the Delorean effect again? We also loved the way that everybody told us to ‘have a nice day’ and asked ‘how ya all doin’. We were sure that every person meant it and were amazed at their empathy.
The crowning glory of Americana came after we had visited the American style Laundromat and frequented the painfully expensive supermarket, where 1lt of local rum was the same price as a carton of UHT milk! In the setting sun a little league baseball game; complete with scoreboard, PA system and kids, coaches and supporters in matching uniforms was underway. We lived through the emotional rollercoaster of the game with bases ‘getting loaded’ and the ‘all outs’, we rooted for the local underdog. This was true little town America. Brilliant.
After being in Christiansted on St Croix for a couple of days our holding tank was full and so we were compelled to move on and empty it out at sea. We’d applied for a licence to go to the marine park at Buck Island and this came through in the nick of time. As we approached the island we were a bit perplexed as to where to go. Usually you simply head to where the other boats are anchored; this was not the case here. This was a deserted desert island and we were going to have the whole playground to ourselves. After getting over ‘empty car park syndrome’, we put the anchor down in perfectly clear water, with visibility of over 100 feet, in front of a beach of pure white sand with a colourful reef protecting us from the swell. We felt that again the Delorean effect was in action as this is what the Caribbean might have been like 20 years ago.
Buck Island is a marine park and is a haven for fish and coral. The islands here also suffer from Ciguatera, the tropical fish disease, meaning that the top predators are not edible and they therefore grow BIG. We snorkelled around the reef amazed at the abundance of happy fish and bright coral, and then gently cruising along out of the blue was a shark. A big shark. As this brown bikini moment occurred Fiona’s mind filled with images of Jaws and all she could hear were the ‘daa-da, daa-da’ notes of the cello before Jaws makes his fatal strike. Getting safely back on shore Fiona changed her bikini and regained her composure whilst Iain retreated from the sea outlining that there is ‘nothing here that can hurt us, only scare the hijeebees out of us’!
With Fiona being super brave, the next morning, we decided we’d take an early morning dingy safari to a snorkelling trail outlined in our pilot book. We picked up one of the dive boat moorings and jumped into the water. It was at this point that we discovered that the enormous Barracuda enjoy chilling out in the shade created by boats. As we took a look into the depths we came face to face with a fish that was so big he wasn’t completely covered by the shade created by Thug. We’re not sure who was more surprised, but we got out the water so quickly we could have been attached to a jetpack and Mr Barracuda swum off ready to surprise others who dare to enter his realm.
The swimming, visibility, fish, people, beaches, culture, and Americana of St Croix have given us a tremendous introduction to the US and the Virgins. We hope that the Delorean effect will continue to work as we go north and we hope to stay living in the Caribbean of the past in the coming days.
We’ve landed. Christiansted charmed us.
Welcome to the land of the free. Up goes our proper fabric courtesy flag.
Just what you want in a nice flat quiet anchorage. A runway.
Let’s play ball. St Croix felt like America in miniature. Even miniature ball players.
Wow. Buck Island. Population 2. Iain and Fiona.
Fiona is about to scare some fish.
Here’s looking at you kid. What a view.
Our home. This is what we’ve been searching for.
One is full of reserves of energy and is useful many many different ways. The other is a cactus.
Breathtaking. The barrier reef on Buck Island.
Red sky at night. The barns alight.