We left Calabria and sailed east to the  U.S. Virgin Islands.  We met up with another boat "Windswept", who has a boy on board and we had spent time with them in the Bahamas last year.  It was good to catch up on things with them and Derek enjoyed having a Minecraft fest with Toby off "Windswept". 

We anchored in the main town of Charlotte Amalie in St. Thomas and were able to watch several cruise ships come in here almost every morning and leave every evening.  There are lots of tourist stores here and since it is duty free it is the main cruise ship shopping stop for trinkets and do-dads for the cruise ship visitors.  It was fun to watch them come in and out, and watch the very white and sometimes very burnt tourists wander about.

While in St. Thomas we did our fair share of shopping, but ours was at marine parts stores and the  grocery store.  To get to the non-tourist shopping areas where prices were cheaper we rode the Safari bus - which is actually just a truck with a modified bed and benches and a roof.   It is only $2 per person for a 30 minute ride to almost any store you need.

We did some sightseeing and took a hike up the 99 steps (actually 103) that lead to Blackbeard's castle.  They wanted $14 each to see the castle so instead we decided to do more stairs.  We went down 120, then across the valley, and then up 125 and then down another 122, before heading back to the boat.  We were tuckered out by then.  We did see the same hotel we stayed at 5 years ago when we charted a sailboat out of the BVIs.

There are lots of boats here, and lots of toys, but the coolest toy was this guy with water jet boots.  He would soar at least 30 feet into the air, and then move around.  He would dive into the water from a height of about 10 feet and like a porpoise would shoot out again straight up into the air.  It was really fun to watch.

Of course we had to do a little more engine work, as our new starter arrived while in St. Thomas, and for once the job was fairly simple and straightforward - and surprise - surprise, everything worked first time out.  We must be losing our touch.

After St. Thomas, we headed 37 miles south to the island of St. Croix.  St. Croix isn't on the usual cruiser stop because it is a 70 mile round trip out of the way place.  So of course, we had to go.   The island was a Danish military presence at one time, and the Danish influence was prominent in the architecture which made the town of Christenstead very pretty, and yellow painted buildings everywhere.

We went out to Buck Island, which is a national park.  At one time it was rated on of the 10 best beaches in the world by National Geographic.  It was a nice beach, and the sand was fine and soft.  We snorkeled in the area, and saw a couple of squid, which was first for us.  A lot of coral in the area was badly damaged by a hurricane in the past, and it is making a slow comeback.

After St. Croix, we sailed another 35 miles to St. John.  We are in a nice calm anchorage here, and went snorkeling today and saw two Hawksbill Sea turtles.  They were not afraid of us at all, and it was really neat to glide around in the water next to them.

We will visit some more places here on St. John, then onto the British Virgin Islands - God save the Queen!

 

 

 

04/12/2013 -   St. Thomas, St. Croix

Three cruise ships at dock by the anchorage

A typical Safari bus

At the top of the 99 steps looking at the anchorage

Can you say stonework?

Halfway up - or is it down the steps

I think we are being followed?
 
Really cool jet boots
 
Never get tired of that blue water and skies
 
Old starter on right, new on left.
 
Old Danish fort.
 
Another yellow building
 
A really pretty yellow building

Now the government house, used to be a mansion
 
Anchorage at Buck Island
 
Endangered Hawksbill turtle