Great news! The US visa process worked and we are now moored in St Johns in the National Park.
We cleared out of the BVI in Jost van Dyke, in the Police Station just by the dinghy dock in Great Harbour. Very quick and just cost a dollar. They weren’t concerned that Jack was no longer with us and didn’t need the details of his flight.
Another fast sail, almost 10 kts at times over the ground, so we were in American waters within an hour. We carefully sailed through the rocks and reefs to the port of entry, Cruz, which is incredibly shallow. Even in the marked channel we were reading 1 metre under our keel and the anchorage to the north of the bay was a non-starter as we were at 0.2 before we were into it. We saw the Customs Office had a dock outside, so went to the top of the bay where the water was deeper and turned around to let the wind blow us gently onto the dock. The depth under us was 1.2.
Formalities were easy enough and cost nothing. You do need to have all the crew in the office though as they need to provide fingerprints and a photo is taken. On other islands only the Skipper is allowed ashore. If we hadn’t taken the ferry to St Thomas last week we wouldn’t have the official visa, so that was an essential step. The online form we printed isn’t enough, our passports also needed to be stamped.
On leaving the dock we stupidly assumed it would have enough water for us going ahead but it didn’t, so we briefly stopped in the sand before getting off to starboard. Close call!! If a ferry hadn’t moored behind us we could have gone astern to exit the dock but we had no option. We kept to the channel to leave the bay but were glad to get out unscathed and even happier that the USVI don’t need us to clear out again there. We can just sail back to the BVI when we are ready.
The park is well managed but there are many rules. We are not allowed to leave any foodstuffs here at all, as anything onboard is considered foreign, even if we bought it here. There are 2 places you can pay to take the ‘foreign waste’ or you just have to store all your bins until you get to another island.
The moorings are really spacious, unlike the BVI bays where manoeuvring in a gust can be a challenge and you pay just 15 US$ a night (1700 to 0700 only) via a mooring pay station floating in the bay. It has cleats all around it to tie the dinghy to. Envelopes and information are in a box on the platform and you just post the money into a secured box. Their map shows the location of the overnight buoys and how many of them in each bay but there are 200 in total. There were plenty still free at sunset yesterday, not like our experience in Soper’s Hole on Sunday when we hoped to clear out but couldn’t find a spare buoy at 1430! Hence another sail to Jost van Dyke but we did pass by Wind Surf, the cruise liner with a set of sails which we have seen sailing around the Caribbean.
We have seen turtles gently swimming past the boat, both here and in Sandy Spit in the BVI but hope to see more at their nesting site just around the corner where we will sail to today.