It will soon be time to sail back to the British Virgin Islands after a wonderful 11 days in the beautiful National Park of the USVI. In the end we were so entranced with the bays around Saint John we didn’t bother to go to Saint Thomas.
We visited Francis Bay, mooring in the southern end, which is also called Maho Bay and stayed 4 nights. During one snorkelling session we saw a huge black starfish, squid, a large sea turtle chomping away at the sea grass on the bottom, hundreds of different tropical fish but the highlight was when a smaller turtle swam right between us. There was plenty of brain and fan coral, plus very spiky black sea urchins, fortunately a few metres below us.
We met fellow cruisers from Canada who told us about the local camp and took the kayak to the beach and followed the steps up the hillside. It is a holiday camp, with many canvas and wooden lodges dotted around the forest. There was a café and dive centre just up from the beach and at the top, an arts centre, shop, laundry and restaurant which both sailors and locals are welcome to use. You need to bring your own drink, that’s all. It was the first time in 6 days I had put shoes and a watch on! We bought some milk and juice but apart from that we have bought nothing for 2 weeks. We make water now and then but always have 300 litres in the tanks.
The log entries are very short these days though, with some trips being less than 3 miles. After crossing the Atlantic, it seems a bit tame just motoring from bay to bay but together with the wind and diesel generators, this more than keeps up with our power needs and we haven’t been in a marina since January 3rd.
We keep cool without air-con and haven’t used our fans but the zipped section in the sprayhood is great for letting in the breeze at anchor and the extra piece we had sewn into the bimini keeps us from getting burnt when helming.
Our fourth stop for a couple of nights was in Waterlemon Bay within Leinster Bay. Another stunning anchorage with 20 buoys, of which at least 6 were free at sunset. There is a cay with a reef between it and the shore, another great site for snorkelling and they have thoughtfully put a couple of red buoys with a line marked with orange buoys between them for tying a dinghy to.
Along the beach a trail leads you to the ruins of the Annaberg plantation but much of it is still in place including the windmill, horse mill circle, slave quarters and the copper dishes for making the sugar for the rum. We saw some nasty looking red ants on the path, devouring some poor little creature.
We were there over a weekend and it was interesting to watch the day boats arrive with their beers in cool boxes on floats and many people just sat in the water all day drinking!
Whilst we were having a BBQ one evening, we saw sparkling eyes in the water all around the boat and in the light from the boat could see large, long, silver fish with a deep v in their tails, swimming slowly around us. We need to read up more on our Caribbean fish but no skinny-dipping for me that night just in case!
Salt Pond was our next stop for a couple of nights. It is quite shallow and has an extensive reef in the centre so you need to be careful on approach. The waves break over part of the jagged rocks on the reef but other yacht munchers are just below the surface. The guide says there are 8 buoys in the bay but there are only 5 and we were lucky to get one at about 1030. The beach is quite busy but is white sand with a couple of trails for visiting the headland nearby. There is also a saltpond behind the beach.
It was Valentine’s Day whilst we were in Salt Pond and how times have changed! 2 years ago Rob treated me to a Valentine’s meal on the Orient Express and a night at the Goring Hotel in London, which was amazing. It was snowing and we were wrapped up in thick coats. This year we were snorkelling with the turtles and walking on white sand, a complete contrast but equally amazing.
Next along the coast, the Lameshur Bays have good shelter and more mooring buoys but we didn’t stop, as we needed to get back to Caneel for the WiFi to check emails and post this blog. It is my youngest son’s 24th birthday tomorrow, so I wanted to be sure of a phone signal.
In the morning we will go back to Soper’s Hole and hope to get a mooring to clear in and stock up on provisions. From there to Cane Garden for water and gas, if the only man allowed to refill bottles is around! There is a launderette and supermarket along the road behind the beach so we can complete getting the boat ready as Dennis and Paula arrive from the UK on Monday.