Upon request I'm attempting to summarize my recent sail trip June 19-28 out of STT on the 45 ft Beneteau "Dream Machine" managed by CYOA.
To make clear, this is our boat so you are free to discount anything I indicate regarding the experience as biased but I really am trying to summarize the trip fairly
without marketing fluff. I am not going to give you a day to day journal - I am trying to stick to things that are noteworthy/useful for others.
Our original travel dates were 18/29. Unfortunately Delta decided to only fly Friday through Sunday. So we got shortened up by one day on each end. I will save you
the horror story of Delta customer support. But will tell you that we did wring our hands for a bit before traveling weighing our physical safety against our mental safety.
In the end we decided we were going to pull the trigger and go on vacation. And I'm very happy we did. Ten days of virtually news blackout and thus not hearing about covid,
politics, riots, etc was great!
When we arrived STT we were stuck in a long line of people outside of baggage claim. Turns out the island health department was doing
temperature checks via infrared probes to the forehead on every arriving passenger. Which I have no problem with but the issue was that by the time they zapped our
temperatures we had been baking in the sun for several minutes. Accordingly we were told that our temps were 101, i.e., we had a "fever". And of course so did virtually
every person on the flight. Lucky for us we got to the monitoring station relatively late. By then the holding pen for the people with a fever (they were trying to
cool down) was overflowing. So were were told we could go but to quarantine if we had symptoms.
We had arranged a rental car from Paradise car rental. We were met in baggage claim by a representative. I went with her to check out the car and sent my wife and
daughter to look for bags. This was the first time we had rented from Paradise and I would like to say it was a great experience. It was $100 for the day - all inclusive
of taxes- for which we had a four door Jeep in near new condition. And they pick up the car from CYOA when you send them a text at the end of the rental.
And this is where I did the first dumb one of the trip. I forgot to leave the key to the jeep, i.e., I took it with me when we left the dock the next day.
I fell on my sword and apologized profusely and they were most gracious. We left the key when we got back to the dock.
I hope we're not on some "naughty" list with them because I really did appreciate the experience and the product and would definitely rent from them again.
We picked up food/drinks by first visiting Cost-U-Less. This was the first time we've been to this store. Think of it as a island version of Costco, i.e.,
you can buy big packages of stuff. We were not really looking for big packages of stuff so we didn't get much here. However, we did find the fruit/vegetable selection
at this store the best we've seen on St. Thomas so in the future we will still stop here. The second stop of our provisioning was Tutu Plaza Extra.
A more or less "normal" grocery store that we've visited many times in the past. There are two options for provisioning that are within walking distance of CYOA if
We were off the CYOA dock by 900 on Saturday with the intent of sailing clockwise around St. John. We stopped in Christmas Cove slightly past ten where we picked up the
last mooring ball available. A lot of boats in this little bay that look like they've been there for a long time. There were many boats anchored in this bay as well
as moored. We relaxed and went swimming and then ordered pizza from Pizza Pi. That whole experience is something so unique it should not be missed. The pizza is pretty
good. Not the best pizza I've ever had but certainly the most beautiful pizza stop I can imagine. Sit on the boat with a cold drink and pizza, admire the clear and
blue waters, nice breeze, and think to yourself that life is good! No covid here!
Next up we started our St. John BBT (Beautiful Beach Tour) by stopping at Trunk Bay. During the trip we visited not only Trunk but Hawksnest, Cinnamon, Maho, Leinster,
Salt Pond, Little Lameshure and Great Lameshur. Every one of these beaches/bays can be a monthly picture on your calendar you hang on the wall. And each one of these had
plenty of moorings available. The only place we couldn't get a mooring ball was one evening in Salt Pond when we arrived late afternoon and where there are only five
mooring balls available. No problem.... we just scooted next door to Great Lameshur.
From our stop in Leinster we wanted to go up to the Annaberg sugar plantation. Not so easy to beach a dingy here as there is a lot of shallow water with a rocky beach.
We made it the last thirty feet by paddling the dingy. The sugar plantation is part of the park service and has posters explaining everything you're looking at
and life in general in the period. I highly recommend the experience if you are looking for something a little bit on the educational side. Bring something to drink
as it can be very hot.
Once we got around to the other side of St John we thought we would anchor in Coral Harbor and go out to dinner. We successfully anchored the boat (no moorings in this
bay) and took the dingy in to shore. We had not been to Coral Harbor since our first charter nearly thirty years ago so it was a somewhat new experience. First
issue was finding a place to tie up or land the dingy. The only place we could see was the dock by Skinny Legs in the NE corner of the bay. Walking up from the dock
was like walking through a junk yard. I thought for sure the junk yard dog was going to come greet us. We also needed to dump garbage. The dumpster close to the dingy
dock had a sign indicating dumping garbage was frowned upon. We asked at Skinny Legs and were told that if we walked down the road a half mile there
was a public dumpster. We finally talked one waitress into allowing us to dump our bag in the restaurant dumpster. Take note that it's not all that convenient to get rid
of your garbage on St. John. You may need to hold on to it in one of your holds for a couple of days. Anyway... back to the story. There were three restaurants within
walking distance that were open and seemed eager for customers. We went back to the boat as it was still too early to eat dinner. Once back on the boat - much to my
wife's dismay - I started the engine and asked her to pull up the anchor. The bay was ugly - full of derelict boats. While she wanted to eat out the rest of us
(son, daughter, and myself) would rather have had raman noodles for dinner and wake up in a beautiful bay vs. eating a nice dinner out and waking up to the ugly junk yard
in Coral Harbor. We scooted around the corner to Salt Pond. My wife, after being told she was not allowed to help with the dinner preparation - agreed it was a
Before our trip we had decided that if conditions were favorable we would try sailing down to St. Croix for a couple of days. We've never made that sail before and felt it
would be a good "stretch" of our skill set. Conditions looked ok (not great) so we gave it a try. We left Salt Pond Bay at 0700 into what I initially thought was thick morning haze.
Pointed the boat south and aimed for the eastern part of St. Croix to make sure we accounted for any possible leeway. The chart plotter indicating an approximate distance
of 34 nm so we were thinking maybe a six hour trip. Visibility was about 2nm which we later learned was not morning haze but rather Sahara sands. We were on a beam reach with
winds up around 20 knots in 4 to 6 waves. Sailing with one reef. As we didn't really have any way to bring the dingy up on the boat we used one of our dock lines to
extend the painter out to about fify feet. It was pretty rough with frequent drenchings from waves hitting the side of our hull (i.e., not from the bow). We had
not pulled up the outboard on the dingy which leads me to a lesson learned. Always pull the outboard out of the water! We've never really seen any reason to pull
the engine up before. You might argue you have a little less drag but other than that? As it turns out there is a good reason. About an hour into the trip I started
looking very closely at the dingy to try to make sure it was doing well. And that's when I discovered that with the motor in the water it was occasionally shooting up a
rooster tail of water that was landing in the dingy. We brought the boat up to the wind to haul the dingy in to look it over. It had two inches of water in her so needed
to be bailed. No big deal... just get in the dingy and bail her. As it turns out it's pretty scary getting into/out of a dingy in 6 foot wave action!
But got it done, pulled the motor up and further dingy issues for the trip. An hour later my wife starts puking. She's never been sick on any of our trips before.
She insisted she was going to be fine and we should continue. At this point were were possibly two hours in to a six hour journey plus potentially six more hours
coming back up. What would you do? Well I turned the boat around and went back to St. John. In my experience people that are motion sick do not recover if the motion
is continuing. And frankly if you are sick you are absolutely not having any fun. The next day we tried again. This time with the wife wearing a patch. Conditions had also
calmed a bit which resulted in a beautiful 5 hour sail to St. Croix (btw, 4.5 back up). Too bad it was so hazy - we didn't see the island until we were about 2 miles
from land. In clear conditions it has to be an absolutely stunning sail.
In St. Croix we pulled in to Green Cay marina and filled fuel. Asked the dockmaster if he had a slip for us. He indicated that he had a slip only if we promised that we
would not stay more than two nights. Deal. Green Cay marina was a very nice facility. Very nice showers, laundry, club hang out, restaurant, pool, etc.
Very quite and very clean.
We had been told that there was nothing on St. Croix worth seeing. I disagree. We rented a car from Centerline car rental and spent a day exploring. Christiansted
waterfront area was very charming. And the drive down the north coast was nice. Did you know there is a rain forest on St. Croix? I didn't.
When we originally planned the St. Croix sail we were planning on a visit to Buck Island. Didn't make it there this time but pretty sure we'll do the St. Croix trip again.
Maybe in combination with doing SVI and sailing the route in a big triangle.
The boat was in great condition. It was clear that even though CYOA was shut down for a couple of months they had been busy using that time to make the boats even better.
Dream Machine had new solar panels, new bimini, and a watermaker that was operating flawlessly (it's of course supposed to run flawlessly but it's been temperamental for the
past few months). And a bonus was a new (to me) dingy. A nice Highfield with bigger tubes (dryer ride) and less weight so it's easier to drag up on shore - have not seen my wife so excited since the boat was new.
Some pictures of the trip can be found on https://www.facebook.com/SVdreammachine
We have chartered (either as customers or as owners) with CYOA for the past eight years. Always on a mono. Every trip
we have gone over to the BVI with our anchorages on the USVI merely as a stop to/back from the BVI. This was our first trip to really explore/enjoy the US side. We
found this to be a different experience than our normal BVI routine. In many ways a better experience. In the future
we will spend more time on the US side. If you are thinking of a sail you will find the USVI has much to offer.