Thursday, February 14, 2008

St. John to St. Croix, USVI

Our next stop on St. John was Salt Pond Bay on the SE end of the island. From here you can hike along several trails leading up from the beach. This hike took us to Drunk Bay on the windswept eastern coast. "Drunk" is dutch Creole for "drowned." Hikers have left their mark by constucting figures out of the bleached rocks and coral. It's like walking through a boneyard!

Look like anyone you know?

This trail took us to Ram Head, a rocky cliff 200 ft above the Caribbean.
Beautiful view!

Merengue in Salt Pond Bay, part of the Virgin Islands National Park. Anchoring is prohibited here but moorings are provided for $15 per night. This is an effort to protect the sea floor from anchors and the chains that tear it up.

We left St. John on Feb 7, 2008 for the 35 mile crossing to St. Croix. We had been watching the weather for weeks and it seems like there are always big seas to deal with in this passage. We sailed in 17-25 kts with 6 to 7 ft seas. There was the occassional 10 footer just to keep you on your toes! We flew along doing over 6 kts with reefed sails. But the constant rolling takes its toll. The 2 brackets that Jim had installed on the front edge of the solar panels to help stabilize them snapped in two. Another trip to the hardware store and more repairs!

When we arrived in Christainsted Harbor we motored around looking for a spot to tuck ourselves in. Usually that is not a problem, one of the advantages of a small boat that will fit into spots where many bigger boats can't go. But the harbor was packed with boats and after circling through several times, we had to resign ourselves to anchoring on the outer edge, right next to where the sea planes took off and landed. They took off only about 100 yards from us and idled past us after landing, often coming as close as 50 ft. The pilots wave as they go by! Thankfully they only operate during daylight hours!

Take-off and landing.

The day after we arrived in St. Croix, Christainsted was holding a "Jump Up." A Jump Up is an island expression that means to dance. The festivities included food, music, late-night shopping and an appearance by the Mocko Jumbies Stilt Walkers. We ate shrimp roti, sampled fresh squeezed sugar cane juice and drank rum out of a coconut.

Steel Pan music. It was great until Jim said, "What's this song?" I had to tell him it was For All We Know by The Carpenter's. After that he wanted another rum!

The Mocko Jumbies, sitting on top of a van as they dressed in their costumes.

Jumbies were evil spirits. Mocko Jumbies are pretend spirits used to chase away the evil ones. The Mocko Jumbies have their faces covered so the real spirits can't recognize them.

Christainsted Harbor.
Fort Christainsvaern, completed by the Danes in 1748. This fort never saw battle.

Is this thing loaded?

We rented a car to tour the island. If you haven't noticed yet, there are 3 things we don't pass up while traveling. The first is forts, the second is brew pubs (yes, we did try the one on St. Croix) and rum distilleries. We'd like to think at least 2 out of the three have historical significance. On this day we stopped to tour the Cruzan Rum Factory.

Molasses fermenting in the tanks. Great aroma!

Rum aging in the barrels.

Jim aging in the bar!

Caribbean Colors.
Happy Hour at Angry Nate's Restaurant on the waterfront.

As of today, we are just hanging out waiting for the weather to change. We'll head back to the U.S. or British Virgin Islands and then on to St. Martin where our friends Mike and Marcia are meeting us on March 1st.

Gotta go now. It's Valentine's Day and Jim is cooking Spaghetti Bolognese for dinner. We've got a nice bottle of red wine to go with it. Life is good!