DATE: December 17, 2006
After spending a few more days in north sound where I again met the Quest, it was time to return to Tortola to pick up a repaired alternator and then clear out of the BVI's to see what St Croix of the US Virgin Islands was all about. We left early the 14th with winds 18 to 22 from the east. With one reef in the main and the working jib set Parallax made short work of this 35 mile trip averaging 9 knots and often pushing into double digits. The entrance looked straightforward, there was one small “round reef” in the middle of the entrance and plenty of water for Parallax on both sides. I planned to sail right into the harbor and then take the west route around the reef where I could furl the jib in the shadow of the eased main, then head up under the reef and drop the main. It was a good plan but flying into a strange harbor with a diverging channel at 10 knots was a bit much. The entrance was much more truncated than I thought and left/right decisions came quick. The markers, which were so clear on the chart, were a little confusing but we got it right and carried out the plan. “whew.” Sometimes single-handing has its moments.
St Croix is a world apart from the BVIs , the cruise ships no longer come there and there wasn't a charter boat to be seen. Reportedly a higher crime rate drove the cruise ships away but I don't know if that's true. It is true St Croix is a little “edgy ”there's not nearly so much money floating around there's very definitely a St Croix attitude. Suited me fine, I carried my knife wherever I went, rented a car and explored the island. Had no problems but you could sense that if you strayed to far or got caught out late away from the main drags….well. The locals around Christiansted, the main town blew off the crime thing and I suppose its not much worse than dc but then again, you have to watch your step in some parts of dc.
Christiansted itself was as pretty a place as you will see in the Virgin Islands, of Danish heritage much had been preserved and it certainly had more character than the BVI s. Colorful shops, a great little waterfront boardwalk and no descending hoards of cruise ship riders. The trees didn't block the forest here and you could get a sense of the place past and present. I motored over the island from west to east and back again. Some of the beaches were outstandingly beautiful and the small tropical forest had little restaurant/ bars almost growing out of the trees, at Dominoes I saw the famous beer drinking pigs and drank a little of Norma's home brewed hooch.
The island is surrounded by great reefs which go from 20 feet to 3000 feet just like that; “the wall”. I hooked up with a dive shop but was disappointed when they didn't take me to the wall as promised. The dive itself was a rushed affair, certainly not on par with the more relaxed dives I have experienced in Belize and Honduras. The reefs we visited were OK bur I still don't know if the “wall” lives up to it's billing. When my son Drew visits next week we may give it a shot on our own.
I am anchored in Gallows bay just outside of St Croix' Marina, a working mans marina. The folks here are exceptionally friendly and helpful This afternoon they are putting on a jazz concert from 3 until…on the marina grounds. A nice way to finish up my time on island. Tomorrow we will work back North to St Johns and from there on to St Thomas where I pick up Dew on the 20th.