|Harry & Jane aboard CORMORANT||
One of the largest cruise ships
After a beautiful overnight sail of 108 miles from Saint Martin, we were anchor down in the main harbor of Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, capital of the USVI, at 1:00 in the afternoon. There were a total of 6 cruise ships in that day, 4 in the main harbor and 2 more we saw later when we moved near Crown Bay Marina. Despite all that, the town is a sleepy little place, with open air safari buses (1 dollar), clear turquoise water in the harbor, and people who say hello when they pass you on the street. Our first concern was to get checked in legally, so we raised our yellow "Q" flag (technically it means quarantine, and vessels are required to fly it when entering a country for the first time until they are cleared), put the dinghy in the water, and went off to the customs and immigration office. It couldn't have been easier. We filled out 2 pages of boat and personal information, showed our passports, our documentation, and our clearance document from Saint Martin, and we were done. No fees. No hassles. The smiling officials welcomed us to the US, told us where to find free wifi, and gave directions for using the bus. We were happy. We hear it is not so easy if you are not a US flag vessel, and that must be true because we have seen very few international yachts here. We hope this is just rumor and not fact, because it is a shame if restrictions are keeping the boats we've know around the world from coming to this beautiful place.
Andy & Dianne on Spirit Borne
We met Andy and Dianne in February, 1999, in the Bahamas and cruised off and on with them until November when we sailed west for the Pacific and they continued cruising in the Caribbean. Now, 13 years later, they are still living aboard, but now on a mooring in Saint Thomas where they are both enjoying good jobs and sailing on the weekends. We traded emails all the way across the Atlantic and were eager to get together again, so we anchored right next to them in Elephant Bay. They filled us in on all the cruiser info--free dinghy docks at Yacht Haven in town and at Crown Bay, near our anchorage; how to ride the open air one dollar safari bus, how to get connected with phone and internet on the boat, where the good grocery stores are, and so forth. It is such fun to see friends again after so long. We always say cruisers never say "good-bye", only "see you somewhere, someday".
Maho Bay, Saint John
On Sunday we left the "big city" feel of Saint Thomas and sailed the 6 or so miles over to Saint John, which is almost totally a national park. Words can't describe it, so just absorb this photo of our boat (the closest sailboat) moored at Maho Bay. As a national park, there is no anchoring allowed, but the moorings are just $15 a night, with half price for those over 62! Tomorrow we are going to do a morning of volunteer work in the park with the Friends of the VINP, so we will have more about that in the next post. We hope all of you in the US are enjoying the Martin Luther King Jr holiday.