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Published: February 13th 2014
Years ago we heard the phrase, “Cruising plans are made of Jello”. How true!
We never made it to Coral Bay last week, instead, we sailed 32 miles south to St. Croix. And what a nice sail it was. Winds were mainly less than 20 knots, and on the beam. For non-sailors, winds that are perpendicular to the boat are ‘on the beam’. For Whisper, and most boats, it’s the best point of sail. We were easily cruising at 6-8 knots with both sails reefed. We had to endure a couple of squalls, but we could see them coming and shortened sail until they passed. During one squall, a rainbow formed and could be seen in the sky, on the water surface, and, the end of the rainbow was at our boat! Never found the pot of gold…
Unlike St. Thomas and St. John, St. Croix does not have many protected anchorages. It is surrounded by the largest island barrier reef system in the Caribbean, and is a popular diving destination. From our cruising guide: “St. Croix is the largest Virgin, more than twice the size of St. Thomas or Tortola. Flatter and more fertile than most islands, it
Was here a few weeks ago with my sister, back with Jon.
was known and The Garden Spot of the Caribbean during the colonial centuries and is still relatively unspoiled and undeveloped.” That it is. There are two population centers, Christiansted on the north shore and Fredericksted on the west shore. Both are harbor towns and both are suffering a bit economically due to the closure of the oil refinery on the south side of the island. Tourism isn’t as strong as on the other Virgins; they only have about two cruise ships a week at Fredericksted (none in the smaller harbor at Christiansted). There are a few resorts on the island, in fact, the marina where we are staying is part of the Tamarind Reef Resort. In spite of the current slump, St. Croix is full of fantastic restaurants – the few meals we ate out were excellent, and friendly residents – everyone says good morning or good afternoon or good evening - EVERYONE. There is a unique vibe that makes you want to stay. So we did. Two days more than we had planned. Jello.
The best part of our visit here was Jump Up, a Christiansted festival that is held 4 times a year. From 6-10 PM on
Friday, February 7, the main streets were closed to traffic and filled with food vendors, residents and tourists. Shops stayed open late with special sales. Local bands set up throughout the town. The main event was the parade of mocko jumbies dancing in the streets. You can read about the Virgin’s mocko jumbies here: http://www.gotostcroix.com/the-mocko-jumbie-a-cultural-icon
and check out the photos in the blog. Too bad you can't hear the music. It was a real treat to be here for this festival.
The next day, we visited Estate Whim, a restored sugar plantation museum. Between 1775 and 1815, St. Croix was the richest sugar island in the Caribbean, with production reaching 46 million pounds in 1812. The island is dotted with ruins of the original plantations owned by the Danes and the sugar plot subdivision names - Work and Rest, Humbug, Hard Labor - are still in use. Agriculture continues to be a major industry here but is now more diverse. The annual Ag Fair that is happening this weekend will showcase locally grown produce and meats. We’ll be sampling some of St. Croix’s local, free range, Senepol beef on Whisper in the coming days. While here, we stocked up
on meats at Annaly Farms, a 5th
generation Crucian family-owned business. Provisioning for the boat can be challenging on the islands and it was nice to discover several large groceries and smaller specialty shops like Annaly Farms. All we needed was a car and a cooler to restock Whisper’s larder. Tomorrow, we’re heading back north to St. John, then to the British Virgin Islands where we will wait for friends who are arriving next week. Hold the Jello.
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