|St. Thomas in the distance|
Well we've lured one more visitor down to the Islands... that's what! We are heading to St. Thomas to take delivery of one JD from Kansas. We haven't seen him in years and coincidentally called him up to invite him for a visit just DAYS after his retirement. He has all the time in the world to hang out with us!
|Hello St. Thomas!|
|See our yellow track? CRAZY!|
That last tack to SE brought a hail on the VHF from a work boat. NOAA was out there doing depth soundings to update the charts (cool) and they wanted to know our intentions. We told them we were headed for Charlotte Amalie and just trying to make progress against the current.
|Closeup of our track into the anchorage|
Never having been here before, we were a little anxious about winding our way in through the islands... but it turned out to be pretty easy. Even going through the VERY narrow spot between Hassel Island and Frenchtown ( Haulover Cut) , reportedly a high traffic area for the ferry boats AND seaplanes... was not a problem.
|The next morning...|
We got settled and met up with Robyn and Barry for happy hour and made plans to spend the following day together.
It was kind of funny really. We had never met before, just through Facebook... Throughout the evening I kept catching little eye messages between Robyn and Barry... "Do we like these people? Should we bail or do we invite them to hang out with us all day tomorrow"
|Charlotte Amalie Waterfront|
They took us ashore in their big fast dinghy and showed us where to dock for town access.
There were vendors set up selling tourist trinkets... Maybe we'll come back by here later in the week with JD...
We rode the bus all the way to the eastern side of the island to visit Red Hook. Let me just tell you that careening along the narrow streets that cut through the hillsides is quite an experience. We walked around Red Hook and then rode back to Charlotte Amalie to explore the tourist district there.
It's like the land that time forgot... These old Colonial era buildings just amaze me.
While ambling along the narrow broken sidewalks we were approached many times by hucksters trying to lure us through their dark doors...
There were no cruise ships in port so we were the target!
How many times can a person say NO! Until finally one of them got to us... He was awesome. He invited us into his jewelry store for water or rum punch... FREE! No. No. No... well OK!
Bruce and I remained near the doorway talking to the huckster while Robyn actually browsed the displays while drinking her rum punch... Notice Barry watching closely...
We laughed and joked with the huckster while enjoying a free water and standing in the draft of their very cold air conditioning! But we held firm and bought nothing else... and were finally allowed to make our escape back out onto the humid streets of town.
|Crown Bay Marina|
|Strange. No idea what this is about...|
Before we came here I really had no desire to visit Charlotte Amalie. Big anchorages full of boats aren't really our thing... we prefer the more remote, non-town type anchorages... We've seen the view of St. Thomas at night from Tortola... It lights up the sky like a cruise ship on the dark sea. Too many people, too much crime... But after our visit here, we realize that this place is really OK.
It's a great place to provision for liquor... booze is cheap in this duty-free port. Grocery prices weren't as bad as the BVI's and selection was great. And there's an airport with reasonably priced flights from the States... A ticket to St. Thomas is much less expensive than one to Tortola.
|Gorgeous sparkling town.|
|A cruise ship arrived overnight|
Our first stop once we collected our guest, was the grocery store. We would have done it before JD arrived, but we wanted him to have some input on menu choices... and of course... beer.
He wanted to reduce the burden a guest puts on the "crew"... but even more, he wanted to embrace the life of a Cruiser and experience it all from the most basic level.
|That's a heavy load!|
I laughed about becoming his manager and renting him out to other Cruisers who need a break from chores but we couldn't settle on the $ cut.
By nightfall we were ready to relax and plan the days ahead. There were a few places JD wished to re-visit in the BVIs but other than that, he left the route to us...
The next morning we motored out of Long Bay and retraced our path through Haulover Cut and back to Honeymoon Bay (aka Druif Bay).
We made a brief stop, anchoring among the permanently moored boats in Elephant Bay.
The anchorage is beautiful even if it is full of moored boats and we wanted to show JD the little beach bar that is becoming one of our favorites... Dinghies.
I wanted to find a spot closer in toward shore in more shallow water and picked a spot that I thought would do even though we were kind of close to an empty mooring ball. My hope was that the mooring ball would remain empty...
We returned to the boat to find that our hopes for the mooring next to us remaining empty had been dashed with the early evening arrival of the owner of the mooring. He was very cool about us being there and even advised us to stay, thinking we would be alright there for the night. I left the boys to their talk in the cockpit while I retired to my room.
After dark, Bruce mentioned to me that we were getting a little close to the boat next to us. I looked out the window and saw that we were REALLY too close... so I got up and went on deck preparing to move us out to the deeper anchorage. The wind had died and the swirling currents in the anchorage had boats moving every-which-way... We probably would have been fine... but I was done being "that boat" that comes in and anchors too close. It was time to move.
The boys pulled up the anchor and had a bit of trouble as the chain jumped out of the roller. In total darkness I had to keep the boat in place while Bruce struggled with the anchor chain. The owner of the boat on the mooring came over in his dinghy to see if we needed help and to offer us an unused mooring closer to shore.
He even guided us over there in the dark and helped us get secured to the mooring. He told us that as long as we were gone by 11 am the following morning we would be fine there. What a nice guy!
So after a bit of excitement, we were securely settled for the night and even though I felt a bit guilty about starting the whole mess by trying to get away with anchoring too close to the moorings... It all turned out well enough and I've learned my lesson. Really... I have!
And coincidentally... the crew of S/V Brilliant came over for breakfast!
We hadn't seen Carrie and Carl since they bought their new boat and returned to the Caribbean... We heard them on the VHF the previous day and knew they were in the neighborhood. The only time we could work out a meeting was breakfast!
So I cooked and the four of us caught up on Cruiser gossip while JD cleaned the galley!
I will stop here and pick up with our next stop...