We made a fast turnaround of laundry and provisioning as the winds looked good to head to St. Croix . This lovely islands lies 40 nautical miles south of St. Thomas so is overlooked by most in the cruising community. Not a long sail, but mind sets change once you hit the cruising grounds of the Virgin Islands where sails are usually less than 20 miles. We had heard great things about the island from fellow cruisers Banyan, Notre Vie and Unicorn, so were excited to head out.
We spent two spectacular weeks exploring the island and could easily have spent longer. What made it even extra special was sharing the time with friends on Slow Waltz and Kool Kat.
A brief summary of our adventures:
Our first stop was Christiansted and although not a stunning anchorage there was lots to keep us busy on shore. We toured Fredriksted by local bus and then the island by car. Sue was an amazingly cool, calm and efficient driver and as long as we kept Mal and Glen in the back we didn’t get lost. Of course, the flat tire curse of Slow Waltz followed us so this added even more to the story. We circumnavigated the island with stops to play min-golf, tour Captain Morgan’s Distillery, check out the museum, visit Lynne, feed the pigs beer, check out Salt Pond and Cane Bays, and provision. Provisioning at the Plaza Extra was a delight as we all exclaimed over the great prices and quality of the produce! Our fridges were certainly all bursting.
Luck was in our favor, and the “Art Thursday” event had been moved to the 2nd, not 3rd week, so we stuck around to enjoy the schmoozing, snacking, sipping and shopping that accompanied it. Sue and I both fell in love with the local “Chaney” bracelets. Chaney is the name given to the small historic shards of Chinese pottery (from the 18th-19th century) found on the beaches. Local children would find these, round the edges and use them for money. The crucian dialect then shortened the “Chinese money” to “Chaney”.
We made the move to Fredriksted, bypassing Buck Island as the winds and waves were not cooperating. A boisterous sail to the corner and then it was pure bliss, the seas calmed, the water was gorgeously crystal clear and turquoise and the beaches calling… We all exclaimed “why didn’t we do this sooner?” At a cruiser beach BBQ on the first night we were able to acquire lots of advice and notes about things to do based in Fredriksted.
We swam and snorkelled every day in the brilliantly clear and teeming waters around the pier and also with the local small green turtle, Charlie. One morning just before heading out to meet Sue and Gwen for some serious chaney hunting of our own, I slipped into the water and swam with a pod of 8 dolphins! A successful hunt with oodles of sea glass, including the “new to us” black type and my very own piece of chaney, was followed by a swim with seven rays on the way back to the boat.
Another morning swim with Charlie and two dolphins continued our enhancement with this island.
We were able to get our tanks serviced at the local shop (visual inspection) and were anxious to blow some bubbles. With Sue, Gwen, and Guillaume, we had a fantastic dive on the pier and found TWO seahorses! A spectacular find!!!! We did a second dive in Butler Bay where we explored 4 wrecks with unbelievable sea life.
With one last thing to check off our “to do” list for this visit, we planned a return excursion to the Cruzan Rum Distillery (which had an unexpected ‘administrative day’ when we stopped on our island tour). A bus ride followed by a short walk and then lots of tasty treats to sample. Sampling completed, we made a final provisioning stop for more delicious produce and staples. Again, shopping whilst hungry is not a good idea, so the evening ended with “pizza on the pier” at sunset, which was a marvellous way to end our Fredriksted adventures.
Kool Kat and Slow Waltz headed out in the morning for a sail to Culebra. We relaxed one more day and then were determined to see Buck Island this trip. An ugly beat into the wind and waves but worth the ride to this blissful piece of paradise.
This little island was a great place for relaxing, hiking, snorkeling and just staring into the gorgeous turquoise waters and white powder sand beaches before sailing back to St. Thomas.
We look forward to Rob’s visit and our last hurrah in the Virgin Islands. Rob leaves on May 5 at which point we will await a weather window to begin our journey east and then south for the season.