Wednesday, February 24, 2010

St. Thomas to St. John

Tuesday was provisioning and check-out day; what a joy to have a fridge and freezer onboard. No more soggy lettuce floating around in the bottom of the ice-box! Nancy did a check-out briefing with us and then Jay went out for a rounding of Hassle Island to give Henry a tutorial on the twin screws and all of us a quick overview of the sailing ropes, so to speak.

Passing Crown Bay, we couldn’t help but notice Oasis of the Seas, the largest cruising ship in the world. It was awe-inspiring but trying not to be too smug, made us question the environmental impact of these monoliths.

Winds had clocked round to the south to about 18-20 knots but most annoyingly a lumpy 5’ swell was coming out of the SE and as the afternoon was wearing on we decided to head to Brewer’s Bay, protected by a breakwall that is essentially the airport runway. We watched a number of the big planes come in and land until dark.

Wednesday, we awoke to much calmer winds of 8-12 knots but surprisingly out of the west. Deciding to take advantage of these favourable winds we upped anchor right after breakfast and enjoyed a fabulous sail along the south coast of St. Thomas. As we made our way through the cut between St. Thomas and Great St. James Island we were passed by Resilience, and hailed on the VHF by the captain we met in the restaurant last night. He’s right, it’s a big boat, but not the biggest we’ve seen down here.

As they headed into Francis Bay, we continued on through the Windward Passage and around Mary Point to Leinster Bay. It was getting on for lunch-time but all the mooring balls were snagged so we headed to the western end of the bay which was wide open and dropped the hook. Looks like we picked an idyllic spot, right off a beautiful snorkling reef and no fees to pay for a ball for the night.

Although we were out off the dock last night, today it finally feels like we’ve arrived in the Caribbean. The turquoise waters sparkle and as I snorkled the anchor to check the set, I watched a ray gently wing its way across the white sands below. A huge school of blue angelfish lazily eased away over the sea fans and brain coral.

This was also the first opportunity for us to get out in the dinghy. Jim and I headed out for a test run and to visit the ruins of the sugar-mill on the hillside. Built in the late 1700s, Annaberg sugarmill was operated by slaves under Danish domination; the windmill and horsemill crushed cane to produce syrup, molasses and rum.