Sunday, March 16, 2014

Exploring St Johns In The USVI's - Above And Below The Water.

 

Sailing from the BVI's to the USVI's

I don’t know if it is because we know we are leaving the Caribbean for a while that is changing our perspective or if it’s because of our perpetual daily moving Wandering Star from one wondrous location to the next which explains why we are enjoying cruising the Virgins so much.  These scattering of salt ringed islands continue to impress us.  Maybe it is because familiarity breeds contempt in our beloved east Caribbean – who knows.  But we can now add another little island to the list of all time favourites.
Cruz Bay, USVI

St John’s USVI – We haven’t even begun to touch what this island has to offer and already we are totally in awe of it.  Because most of it is a national park, mooring buoys have been put into place to stop yachts damaging the coral.  We get that.  $15 a night for a period of time can be a little prohibitive for us, half that would have been far more affordable but there you go – sometimes you have to splash out.  So we have divided our time between picking up the park buoys or anchoring for free outside the park boundaries.  Although the fees are charged on a nightly bases, daytime use is free which helps make exploring a little easier.
Sim Chilling!

We checked in with Customs and Immigration in the cool and quirky little town of Cruz Bay.  They took our pictures and a print of every finger – we must remember not to misbehave!! St Johns is all about above and below the water.  The coral reef surrounding the island is a national monument and the hilly terrain above is full of hikes and trails throughout the island.
An evening with Dave and Alex

We got to spend a lovely evening with new friends Dave and Alex on SY Banyan at Watermelon Bay.  The snorkelling is great around the cay especially if you can avoid arriving at the same time as a tourist group.  But the highlights for us have to be the hike (yes we did get Sim to hike) a 5 mile return trip from Lameshur Bay to the petroglyphs or rock carvings in the Reef Bay valley left by the Taino Indians before the arrival of Christopher Columbus.  It was such a neat little spot with the carvings etched into the rocks around small pools which attract dragonflies, butterflies and hummingbirds. We were surprised to see that there were deer on the island as well.  Back in the bay snorkelling around the headland with rocky caves and grottos filled with fish and coral was lovely. But once again below the boat we seemed to have attracted more Ramora or shark suckers.  They are supposed to be fairly genteel, inquisitive creatures but Sim and I found their similarity to sharks little off putting! To top it all off we bumped into people we have not seen for 5 years, since our days in the Dominican Republic and crossing the Mona Passage and had a great evening catching up with Susan and LeRue on SY Southern Cross.
Taino rock carvings


The big surprise though was the advice that we should try snorkelling the mangrove reef at Water Creek in the Hurricane Holes. Not only was the bay stunning, lined with thick green foliage down to the water’s edge but the snorkelling was surprising.  Most of it was on a micro scale but it was a spectacular display of healthy coral attached to mangrove roots in vivid colours, even more vibrant in the shallow clear water. I love getting up close and personal with it all despite the constant appearance of small barracudas and a persistent little fish that befriend Sim and would leave.  We saw Lobsters and shrimp and puffer fish hiding in rocky crevices as colourful fish darted in and out of the roots. For anyone that likes snorkelling I recommend giving this a go.
Mangrove snorkelling

 More mangrove

Flourishing coral

Colourful Angel fish
 
Remora

Sim's little friend
Watermelon Bay

Flamingos Tongue at Watermelon Cay

Elk Horn

French Angelfish

Scrawled Filefish

Rocky Caves to snorkel at Lameshur Bay

On the hike to the petroglyphs

Thorny sandbox tree

Sim waiting on the trail as I dawdle behind
Mangrove bays at Hurricane Hole

Sim and the rock carvings

Funny how they look like ET - are the Tainos trying to tell us something?
 
 
 


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