Sunday, May 1, 2016

Saving St. Croix For Another Day

Our mad dash for St. Croix paid off and we found ourselves anchored inside the protective reef, very close to a marina and a nice boardwalk where we could park the dinghy and go ashore.

Little did we know at the time, but our plan to spend a week or more enjoying this small and off-the-cruiser-path island would be cut short.

Morning looked promising but clouds soon took over
Chris Parker was predicting several days of rainy/windy weather, during which time we planned to hole up on the boat and maybe do some sewing or other boat projects...

Our first day here was spent doing just that... with the addition of searching the internet for things to do on St. Croix...

We stayed on the boat through intermittent drizzling rain.  We watched as these enormous Frigate Birds fought for position on this channel marker just off our stern.

They are magnificent birds and somewhat rare back in Corpus Christi... so we're always thrilled to see them.  They are more prevalent here in the islands...

We also sat and watched the swimmers practice for the upcoming Half Iron Man competition.  The orange ball in the pic above was part of their course.

We watched swimmers slowly struggle by as they rounded the furthest mark and made their way back to shore.  I didn't get any pics of them for whatever reason...

Marina parking for ice and repairs
In other news:  I am happy to report that my normal reaction to unpleasant events has been replaced by an very uncharacteristic laissez-faire attitude towards things breaking... Bruce discovered in the morning, largely due to excessive battery amps... that our refrigerator has died.

We did everything we could think of to revive it but gave up before we could damage it further.  We had to make a trip to the nearby marina for some ice and to see if they had anyone on staff who could take a look.

Turns out that the guy we needed to speak to was "off island" and we were told to call or come by later.  After asking around in town, we were warned that "that guy" was not a good choice, but that there was a good repairman on St. Thomas.  So, we'll be doing without our refrigeration during our stay here in St. Croix.  And I'm not losing my mind about it!!!

We ended our day with happy hour aboard Take It Easy with Marsha and Fred... They arrived in the anchorage and settled just behind us.  We hit it off and planned some exploring ashore in the coming days...

The next morning under sunny skies. we set out to apply for an anchoring permit for nearby Buck Island... Better start early...

On shore we met up with Marsha and Fred and went on a walking tour of the town on our way to the old Fort Christiansvaern.

Danish influence is found everywhere in the old buildings on the island.

We took our ships documents to the Park Office inside the Fort and completed our permit request.  I had heard that the process could take days or weeks but the woman who helped us said that they were trying to streamline the process so that permits are now being approved within hours so that visitors on boats can see the park before leaving the island.

Our permit was approved by the next day and is good for one year.  All we have to do is call the park service office when we're ready to go over there and they should find our name on the list.  (fingers crossed)... Now if only the weather will cooperate!

Since we were already there... we walked through the fort.  It's a quiet place.  No rangers or presentations... just walk around and take a look...

Cannons aimed at Dos Libras!

We're out there!

Protestant Cay... another place to visit while we're here!

We left the fort and continued on through the streets of town in search of a grocery store and someplace to have lunch.

We found both.  I was dying for Mexican Food and this little place advertised $1.50 Margaritas.  We went inside and placed our order..

The Owner tried to talk us out of ordering the advertised Margarita, saying that it was terrible.  We really thought he was kidding... because... really!  Who sells Margaritas that are terrible???

When they arrived we realized that he wasn't kidding!!!  They were un-drinkable!  I asked for some sugar to try and make it better and was alarmed at the amount of sugar I added that didn't seem to make any difference at all!

Our dinner came and we finished the underwhelming meal... while still trying to choke down those Margaritas...  We left wondering why any businessman would serve such swill... Just produce a decent drink and charge what you want for it!!!  Won't be going back there again...

Right beneath the boat!
We returned to our respective boats and enjoyed a nice dip.

Bruce getting his exercise
Tarpon crowd the dinghy dock
Marsha and Fred declined to return to shore in the late afternoon to attend the Jump-Up.  I had read that these parties were held four times per year on St. Croix, and we were lucky enough to be here for one of them.  It is held on the Friday night before the Half Iron Man which happens each year in early May.

Under the Boardwalk...
We got cleaned up and dinghied up to the boardwalk which lines the waterfront area.  Cruisers are welcomed with open arms and provided this convenient access to the town.  This is something that we are not accustomed to back in the States (read FLORIDA!!!) so it's a nice change for us.

Dutch Windmill right on the waterfront

Party boat with a band playing onboard

The streets were lit and blocked off for the party

Steel Drum Band of young people

An older band playing classical music
We did this all wrong.  I had read that there would be Jumbies and I wanted to see them! Otherwise... not really knowing what to expect from a Jump Up... we had dinner onboard before we went ashore.    As we waked the streets we realized what a mistake that was.  There were no Jumbies to be seen... but there were vendors all along the way selling delectable local street food... I had to be forcibly dragged past the one selling Roti and Pinchos... two of my favorites!  I didn't even buy a cotton candy!!!  What is WRONG with me???

We enjoyed the music being played in the streets and as it got later and later, we backtracked to the boardwalk where we found the bars and restaurants full.  There was one place that had people seated around a movie screen with a movie advertised to start at 7:30. Having no need to see a movie surrounded by hundreds of people... we dinghied back to the boat and called it a night.

We learned later from a Facebook Friend who was there... that the show we did NOT see... the movie... was the start of the Jumbies and whatever else they presented to open the Iron Man weekend... We had missed it by mere minutes!  What an idiot I am!!!

All the chickens were Kung Fu Fighting....
During the night we had some rain and it continued into the morning.  At some point it seemed to be clearing off but the weather report called for widespread squalls all day long.  We spent the morning planning our sewing projects and getting things assembled... only to be lured ashore by Marsha and Fred.  They came by and asked us to join them on a $1 Bus ride around the island.

Those chicks were fast as lightning...
That being on our list of things to do while we're here...we quickly dressed and were ready when they came back by to get us in their dinghy.

Fred had scoped it out earlier and led us to the bus stop where we entertained ourselves with conversation and watching the yard birds fight.

People pay big bucks for this in the States, but these young chickens were just playing.  They would stare with steely eyes, frozen until the first one made his move... then they would jump and attack one another... until one saw a juicy bug, and then they would both run over and peck at their breakfast.

We waited and waited for the $1 Bus.  I had read that it was only reliable for being unreliable and hey... we had all day.  So we chatted and took shelter on a nearby covered walkway as the dark clouds gathered and began to dump.

We enjoyed conversation with some of the Locals and asked about the $1 Bus... Yes, this is the place it will stop...eventually.  There are a lot of people in town for the Iron Man, maybe that's why it's taking so long...

 A mini waterfall!
The rain began to run into the low spots and make its way to the sea...

We began to worry a bit because our poor animals were out on the boats all alone.  We were secure in our anchor but our friends weren't quite as sure... as we watched the boats disappear behind a sheet of rain.

We moved back away from the street as the wind began to blow the rain hard enough to get us wet.

See the rat???
Bugs began crawling up onto the sidewalk and we saw two rats skip along looking for shelter... One waited on top of the base of this building before disappearing into the sewer...  RATS!!!

Suddenly the $1 Bus arrived.  Bruce and I called to Marsha and Fred and dashed over to hop onto the bus.

While Bruce was pulling out dollars, Fred came to the door and said they were going to wait and go back to the boat as soon as it was safe.  He said they would come back for us (we had come in one dinghy) but we declined.... jumping back off of the bus with an apologetic glance at the driver.  He wasn't having such a great day...  We can ride the bus tomorrow...
The mini waterfall became a REAL waterfall!

Soon after our return to rain-watch, the water began to rise up over the edge of our sidewalk... so we moved again!

Marsha and I took shelter in one of the restaurants facing the locals mooring field.  We were wet and cold, but it looked like it was beginning to lighten up.

What's madder than a wet hen?  A wet ROOSTER!

Why did the chicken cross the road?  To get out of the rain!

Rain is slowing and it's time to bail!

The waves calmed enough for us to return safely to our boats

You can see the line of brown drain-off water.  

Our homes are safe and sound!
The weather continued to be squally for the remainder of the day.  We read, we ate, we surfed the internet... I think I even got some blogging done... but wait!

I see on Facebook that some friends of ours from the States are in St. Thomas!  OUR ST. THOMAS!!!  The Six-hours-away St. Thomas...  They had flown into the USVIs and would take the ferry to Tortola in the morning to pick up their charter boat!!! Suddenly, staying in St. Croix until the rains stopped became less interesting.  We consulted the weather and charted our course...

In the morning we would consult Chris Parker and if he said it would be OK to sail from St. Croix to the BVIs.  Unfortunately we couldn't hear his report well enough to get anything and he forgot to address the Webcast people...  So after listening to the entire thing, we decided to just leave on the last email report we got... It said we could have squalls but the wind and seas didn't look too bad.

We were off like bandits... St. Croix would have to wait until another day.

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