15 December 2014
Virgin Island National Park
We are currently in Francis Bay on the island of St John. St John has been a favorite of mine since the first time I visited in 1995. Fantastic snorkeling, an extensive network of maintained hiking trials and pristine beaches are just a few of it's alluring qualities. Almost the entire island is National Park, along with the Virgin Island Coral Reef National Monument which extends into the seabed to protect delicate coral and marine life.
The harbors on St John have park installed mooring balls and restrictions on anchoring. For a modest fee of $15 ($7.50 with a senior pass) boaters can enjoy a bay that avoids the commercialization of it's neighboring islands. Fees are paid using an honor system and the park places Bay Hosts in each bay to encourage compliance. This year we are the Bay Hosts here in Francis. We record names and ports of visiting boats, offer pay envelopes and brochures along with answers to any questions they may have. Along with these duties we are volunteering for other projects in the park. Until recently I did not realize how important volunteer resources were to our federal lands.
Anyone following this blog knows how impressed we were with the National Parks and Monuments we visited last summer after purchasing our motorhome. We are also hoping to find a campground host position for a few of the months we will travel next summer in the southwest region. Between our boat and motorhome we aspire to experience most of American beautiful natural resources. Just take a look at the photo gallery to the right and you will see that this is a worthwhile goal!
Now that we will be spending half of our time on land, we are considering sailing back to Florida. Currently I am researching storage facilities for both the boat and motorhome along the Florida coast. This will give us flexibility on which months we are on water and which on land. It will also give us the chance to experience the east coast and more of the Gulf of Mexico. When we sailed away from St Petersburg we said we would be gone from 3 to 5 years and what a great 5 years it has been. Oh, but there is so much more to see.