After leaving Culebra we had to start making our way to St Thomas. A break in the weather occurred on the Sunday so we decided to take our chance and complete the 20-mile motor back to Red Hook Bay to top up with water. We cleared the reef but the wind and swell had not settled. We were beaten up in the first 3 hours with Troskala struggling at times to maintain a reasonable speed when slamming into 2.8-meter waves. I was dogged throughout with seasickness, which has only ever once happened before. I do not wish seasickness on anyone and it is so debilitating. I was flat out for most of the journey and Carlotta took over the watches. About 3 hours in we decided to make our first stop at Honeymoon Bay on Water Island; 8 miles short of our planned destination, but to be honest I did not care and once we dropped the anchor I was back to normal.
It was lovely being back in Honeymoon Bay. We met with some friends on our first night that we had met in Tortola and another lovely American Couple. We joined them in the evening for cocktails and smoked Oysters; a lovely evening.
We were in no rush to set out and spent another day enjoying beach life, Our friends on Yacht Demeter kindly loaned their 20 horse power dinghy so that we could get to Charlotte Amalie to stock up on provisions without having to move Troskala. We had Demeter over for drinks in the evening with their lovely children Max and Anya.
We departed early the next morning and circumnavigated Water Island before heading back out to sea. We motored another 2 hours to Red Hook where we filled with water and disposed of garbage before taking a mooring in Christmas Cove just off St James Island, a secluded and beautiful spot.
It is easy for most people to miss St Croix and not give it another thought. The island lies in splendid isolation 40 miles south of the other Virgin Islands. It is surrounded by the largest barrier reef system in the Caribbean. St Croix is said to be rich in history and the Capital (Christiansted) is said to be the most beautiful town in the Caribbean. We also learnt that on one spot of the island you are on the closest land to the deepest water in the world. How could anyone miss this place based on what is written. We had to go and the nest morning we set off at 07:00 to complete the 40 miles south that would take us from 18 degrees Latitude back to 17 degrees.
Our passage went well at the start. We had to reef the genoa and the main by one but Troskala held a steady course and when we reached the island we were only 2 miles west off our rhumb line, which is not bad considering the cross current and leeway that took place. I suffered again from seasickness, which is a bit of blow so I will need to take seasickness tablets for the next voyages.
We approached a lush and large island, it looked beautiful from the sea and we could not wait to get in and explore. I would not have wanted to complete the approach to Christiansted in wind over 15 knots. The place is strewn with reefs and although there are numerous buoys, this only aids to confuse you even more with the two channels. A couple of sunken yachts was a stark reminder of how dangerous the entry can be.
We survived and entered the harbour at a safe 2 knots. The guidebook recommends anchoring in Gallows Bay. This did not look that nice so we went around Protestant Cay, a small island in the harbour. You are not meant to anchor here due to a large mooring field that is used by many cruisers who forgot to leave the island, so really it is a homemade mooring field and not listed this was on the charts other than it being an anchorage so we used it with not a single bit of guilt. I have to add that do be careful upon taking my advise. I went snorkelling the next day and found that our anchor had only just missed several mooring chains, two car engines and a tyre. The bottom is littered with debris, which is a shame as the water and the harbour are stunning. If you do manage to anchor and avoid all the metal the holding is good, in fact we are still here with the wind gusting to 30 knots at times and we have still held.
What shocked us the most when going to land was the friendliness of all the people. As soon as we entered by dinghy local cruisers were there to help Carlotta off and advise us where best to leave the dinghy. We went to a great bar, which used to be an old windmill. We met several locals who were informative, kind and funny. We played bar games with another lovely American couple who were staying in a hotel locally. Were given free shots of Whiskey and Rum and after becoming slightly intoxicated we departed but invited Ed and Danielle over the next night for drinks on Troskala.
The next day was spent in Christiansted. Yes, the town was everything we expected, in fact it was more than we expected. I would say that the town is the most interesting, beautiful and well appointed town in the Caribbean. There is very little tourism so it maintains its charm as a small village. Everyone is friendly and will talk to you on the street for no apparent reason. We felt at home and I can see why cruisers do not leave after reaching this place. I think after a few days and a few whiskey shots you could call this place home and never go back to your previous destinations.
We loved the architecture, the small streets, shops and lovely café’s. The history is all around you and encompassing. St Criox does have its problems. One of its largest revenue generators was a oil depot situated on the North coast. The Oil depot closed down this year and an island that has only 50,000 inhabitants lost over 2,000 jobs, which has been crippling. There is desperation and it is not recommended to walk the streets after dark. I never at any stage felt intimidated and enjoyed my time wondering around the small streets. There is still a very Danish feel. The Danish ruled the island for 200 years and made the town what it is today; a relaxing, calm and beautiful. I would say that is you want to see a Caribbean Town as it was before being messed around with mass tourism, such as St Maartens, and St Kitts, visit Christiansted before it is too late, you will not be disappointed. Our photos do not do it justice and there is no doubt we will be back. In the evening we had the friends we met the previous night, Ed and Danielle. Danielle had made a made a fantastic punch and they had very kindly brought us some beers and wine. We had a lovely evening learning about them and sharing numerous stories. It could not have been a better ending to a great day and I hope we get to meet them in New York in the future. It is evenings like this that I think we will miss the most when our adventure comes to a close.
The following day we decided to rent a car to tour the island and visit some of the old sugar plantations. I have recently read a couple a books related to the history of sugar cane plantations in the Caribbean and was therefore eager to explore some old ruins. So our new car would be a Ford Fiesta that we picked up from Centre point car rentals. We headed firstly to Frederiksted. Fredericksted is a quaint, charming and laid-back town with a mixture of Danish and Colonial and Victorian architecture. It is another lovely town but much quieter than Christiansted. We had a late breakfast at Polly’s, located on the sea front and then headed to the north of the island. It was similar to driving in Wales or Scotland. Steep cliffs were covered with lush green foliage. The roads were winding and the views were spectacular.
Two hours in to our drive the car felt slightly odd and on further investigation we found that we had a flat tyre. We were in the middle of nowhere but two cars past and offered a hand, which I kindly declined. Twenty minutes we were on our way and after a short drive we found the plantation.
It was eerie to be walking around this site, which is the site of Sugar Mill Base, dated 1765. There was a tomb nearby but we did not know whose is was and why it was there, We then realised that we were standing on the spot that has the closest land to the deepest water in the world and that the site was used for research for Ocean Temperature Energy Conservation. We was a lovely site and we spent some time reflecting and enjoying the glorious scenery that St Croix offers at every possible angle.
After the plantation we drove into the rain forest and stopped off for a smoothie at a small zoo, where we were looked after by the staff and spent some time holding puppies, kittens and watching tortoises make love; not on purpose, but they were all at it; must be the time of the year or something.
The rest of the island did not disappoint. There are relics and history at every turn and we could have spent much longer enjoying such sights but we were tired, hot and needed a swim.
We had enjoyed another lovely day on this very special island. We are now stuck due to high winds and swell but expect to depart Christiansted in the next couple of days to head to Buck Island, which is the first underwater National Monument; so of course, we have to go and hope to send you photos of this paradise shortly.
On a personal note, our plans have changed yet again. Our circumnavigation on Troskala will be shortly coming to end as we pave a career in Chartering. I had hoped to keep Troskala in the BVI’s with the idea of sailing her into the Pacific but I cannot kid myself that this will be a few years away and I cannot bear the thought of leaving our beautiful yacht to rot in a marina as so many do. We have therefore decided to sail her back to Northern Spain in May next year as it is a place close to our hearts and the best cruising ground we have encountered during this trip. In our holidays next year, which normally occur in August and September we will sail her from La Coruna back through Portugal and into the Med as we have wanted to do this area since the start and at least this way we can use her yearly and putting her in the water here during the high hurricane months does not make sense. That said, there is still so much to wright about and new adventures and just around the corner.