Published: May 10th 2011May 7th 2011
Close to the airport
Lindbergh Bay is the next bay over from Charlotte Amalie which is where we anchored when we got to St. Thomas. It is right next to the airport as you can see as this was a view we could see from the anchorage. The noise wasn’t bad and the anchorage wasn’t rolly which was more important. Also quite a few of our friends were anchored there so it was nice to connect with them.
Where are we now? We have left Culebra finally after being there for over a week. We enjoyed our time in Puerto Rico, but we started to get antsy waiting for the seas to calm down some so we could move on. We left Culebra with two other boats that we have been traveling with on and off since the Bahamas. We traveled to St. Thomas which is one of the US Virgin Islands. For those of you that are not aware, the USVI are made up of St Thomas, St. John and St. Croix. These islands were purchased from the Danish in 1911. On this trip we plan to visit two of the three. Our first stop was St. Thomas at Lindbergh Bay where we joined up with 2 other boats that we had been traveling with on and off since leaving the Bahamas. Happy Times invited everyone over to their “place” for sundowners. It is always nice to find out what everyone has been up to since last seeing them. We also met three young people (at our age were finding that term covers a rather significant age group) who are traveling in a 50 foot trimaran that was
In our cool shades
We met some people on Pipedream that were headed to Tahiti. They had an abundance of sunglasses and gave everyone that was on Happy Times for sundowners a pair so had to take a photo of the gang.
obviously built for speed. They're on their way to Tahiti and the boat regularly exceeds 15 kn. Interesting young people and the name of the boat is Pipeline.
When we arrived in St. Thomas we found out that it was Carnival Week. They have been celebrating Carnival sporadically since 1911, but continuously since 1952. It has been named one of the top ten carnivals in the world by USA Today. Carnival is for party lovers of all ages and competition is fierce for the coveted King, Queen, Prince & Princess titles. We decided to stay a little longer to see at least some of the festivities. On Thursday we went into Charlotte Amalie (the capital) just in time to see what we thought was a parade, but turned out to be “a warm up”. We saw trucks pulling flatbeds filled with bands and huge speakers (a wall of speakers easily 15 feet tall and wider than the back of the 18 wheeler that was pulling). At times like this being hard of hearing is a God sent. It seemed to be more a battle of the bands to see who could play the loudest. It was definitely more entertaining to
This is the local bus service on St. Thomas. It is ‘open air” and cost only $2 compared to $6 for the taxi. Needless to say, we used these for getting around the area.
watch the crowds as they were dressed in every conceivable outlandish outfit possible. Even though we were there at 9:30AM the beer and rum drinks were flowing making the crowds quite lively indeed. Our understanding was that this all began around 4:30 a.m. our boat was anchored a good 10 miles away and we heard the music.
Friday the children’s parade ran from 10AM through 2PM with all the schools performing – everything from dancing, baton twirling, bands playing and cars full of princess and princes’. We heard that the best parade was on Saturday, the adult parade, but we decided to move on to St. John instead. We thoroughly enjoyed watching the kids in their great costumes and listen to the great music. We are sure that this is the training ground for those that are in the adult parade as we understand that their costumes are even more spectacular than the kids. We decided that it was nice watching the kids as the alcoholic drinks weren’t flowing quite as much so the crowds were much more manageable allowing everyone a chance to enjoy the performances.
We found time to explore some of the historic areas of the city
Where land, sea & air meet
St. Thomas is one of those runways that is right at the water’s edge.
as well, but unfortunately most things were closed due to the carnival festivities. We did climb up to Blackbeard’s castle and got a great view of the city from there. It was originally built in 1679 as a watchtower. It then became known as the headquarters of Blackbeard himself. Other sites included Fort Christian which was built in 1680. We then climbed down the hill using the “99 steps” that was built entirely of ballast from trade ships in the 1700s.
We left St. Thomas and sailed the short distance to St. John. The only way you can get to this island is by ferry from St. Thomas or your own private boat. 52% of the island is part of the Virgin Island National Park(thanks to Laurence Rockefeller). Our first stop was near Cruz Bay so we could go to the park visitor center to get oriented to the area and found out the rules and regulations regarding entering the park by boat. In order to keep anchoring to a minimum, they have installed numerous moorings which are free for day use and cost $15 per night. We stayed at Francis Bay for a couple of nights so we could
We had to take this shot of our friend’s boat, Snowbird, as a comparison to the cruise ships that come in and out of St. Thomas harbor.
take the time to do some hiking and snorkeling. Nearby we walked to the ruins of a very large sugar plantation called Annaberg which was in operation between the years of 1797 and 1862. This plantation had 4 different owners with the last one being an Irishman who built a windmill to crush the sugar cane. Previously the crushers were operated by mules. Throughout most of this period Annaberg remained a profitable sugar estate, with production levels exceeding 100,000 pounds of sugar per year as late as 1845. However, soil depletion, sagging sugar prices, and the emancipation of enslaved laborers throughout the Danish West Indies in 1848, all serve to drive down production. By 1861 and Annaberg produced less than 5000 pounds of raw sugar. The ruins are in very good shape and the park has done a great job of explaining the process used in producing sugar, molasses and rum from the sugar cane. Columbus is the one who brought sugar cane to the West Indies. In fact this is what drove many of the nations in Europe to colonize the West Indies, cheap sugar. The location of the ruins also gave us a great view of the various
Our speakers are louder
The activities on Thursday in Charlotte Amalie included a “battle of the bands” it appeared by the size and number of speakers each of the floats used. It was definitely deafening, but interesting to see the crowds.
islands – we could see many of the islands that belong to the British Virgin Islands that we will be going to next. We are now in an area where we can travel between islands in an hour or two compared to the full days and nights we have taken in the past. This will be a nice change of pace.
As we get closer to hurricane season we have to answer one big question, where are we going to keep the boat from July 1 to November 1. Our insurance company is telling us it should be Trinidad, so guess where we are going! Janice is doing the research on 4 different marinas and she has already set up spreadsheets to compare their prices – some things don’t change! We are still planning on flying “north” probably for a month or two. If anyone knows of someone who needs a house sitter during July or August please let us know. We want to get out and visit as many of our friends and family as possible, but also plan to do the mundane doctor and dentist appointments as well. It will be nice to be in upstate NY in
Some of the "sights"
Here were just a few of the “sights” we saw while watching the bands go by on Thursday of Carnival Week. They were dressed up in every costume imaginable.
July and August. Hopefully we will be able to visit with many of you while we are there!
This morning we left St. Thomas and motored over to Jost Van Dyke which is one of the British Virgin Islands. We were able to check in easily and take a walk through town. 11 years ago we sailed through this part of the Caribbean with Bob's sister Eugenia and his brother-in-law Rick. Probably one of our best remembered vacations. It's amazing how much things have changed in 11 years. We're finishing up this blog entry so that we can hopefully go into town hookup with Wi-Fi and get it sent out. Hopefully all of you are well and enjoying the springtime.
There are more photos below