USVI/SVI/BVI Trip Report

Posted By: BaardJ

USVI/SVI/BVI Trip Report - 06/05/2019 09:43 PM

I’m tired of reading the BoatyBall debate so after 40 USVI/BVI sailing trips I finally write my first report (WARNING - it's lengthy) of a recent STT-STJ-STX-SVI-STT-BVI-STJ-STT trip from May 11-22. Hopefully it provides some chartering ideas and tips for those that are ready to go beyond the usual one-week circle of the BVI.

My boat is Cuvée, a 4-cabin FP Saba 50, based at CYOA Yacht Charters in Frenchtown, St Thomas. I’m joined only by a sailing buddy so we have plenty of spaces to find some privacy if we tire of each other’s company during the 12-day trip.

Day 1 – Yawn…3:30 am departure to PIT airport for our PIT-JFK-STT legs. Arrive STT at Noon and 30 minutes early! Minivan rental is pre-arranged with Avis. I have Avis Preferred and have had problem-free rentals at STT for 16+ trips over the past 4 years. Our luggage arrives quickly including the bag containing the foam-packed 18 bottles of wine we bring to pair with our dinners. It’s a short walk to the minivan and we’re out of the airport within 30 minutes of arrival and hopeful we can be off the dock before the CYOA staff leave at 5 pm. With provisioning list in hand, we drive a half-hour to Plaza Extra where we complete the bulk of the shopping and find the remaining vegetables and finer cheeses at The Fruit Bowl. If I were looking to find the absolute best meats and fish for larger crew dinners, I would stop at Moe’s Fresh Market along the Charlotte Amalie waterfront, but the ribeye’s, pork tenderloin, hamburger, and chicken we purchase at Plaza Extra turn out to be excellent.

We arrive at the CYOA base at 3:30 pm to find the boat spotless (as usual!) and ready to go with A/C cranking, fridges and freezer cold, and icemaker full. We stow our provisions and gear, load the cockpit fridge with 38 Caribs, fill the Yeti Tundra 45 qt cooler and Igloo 30 qt beach cooler with ice for good measure, grab some snorkeling fins, then refuel the minivan and return it to the nearby Avis office at the seaplane base. It’s a 5-minute, 350-yard walk back to CYOA.

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With the help of Captain Jay to pull the passerelle onto the dock, we’re underway at 4:30 pm. One of the many benefits of sailing in May compared to the winter are the later sunsets (~6:45 pm) and earlier sunrises (~5:45 am) allowing a few more hours for time on the water…plus warmer sea temperature, fewer crowds, and more moderate winds. We decide to motor 2 hours east to Salt Pond Bay, St John. Weather is a bit hazy with ESE14-16 winds and 3’ seas in Pillsbury Sound – not unpleasant at all. I see only 4 boats on the 19 National Park Service moorings balls in Little and Great Lameshur Bays. Two of the five mooring balls in Salt Pond Bay are occupied, including fellow CYOA boat owners on their Helia 44 Counting Stars. The National Park Service pay station ashore is still out-of-commission.

The drought conditions for the past few months has turned the hillsides on St Thomas and St John brown, and noticeably browner in just the month since our last visit. It’s not as bad as the obliterated vegetation immediately after Irma, but I’ve not seen the islands this dry in many years.

Dinner features grilled ribeye with sautéed mushrooms, grilled asparagus and baked potatoes accompanied by Turley California Juvenile Zinfandel 2016 and Tobin James Cellars French Camp Zinfandel 2016.

Day 2 – We awake to the only overcast (but still dry) day of the trip, though it starts to clear in the afternoon. It’s an easy decision following yesterday’s rush to spend the day floating on inner tubes from the boat to the beach and back in 85°F water, while depleting the cockpit fridge contents. A 4G wireless tower was installed at the east end of St John in the past month so we listen to SiriusXM radio streaming from my Verizon cellphone all day. Dinner is grilled rosemary-crusted pork tenderloin basted in homemade BBQ sauce, a sweet and spicy rice mix, and roasted Brussels sprouts with Loring Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir 2016 and Wild Horse Edna Valley Pinot Noir 2016. After some stargazing, we agree to a dawn departure for the 34nm sail to Christiansted, St Croix.

Why Christiansted? Three reasons - tour this charming old Danish colonial-style town that I’ve not visited since the late 1990’s, play the island’s two 18-hole golf courses, and explore other areas of the island.

Day 3 – After yesterday’s over-indulgence, the 5 am alarm comes way too early. Time to man up! Sun is peaking over the clear horizon as we pass Ram Head close-hauled at 8.5 kts under full main and partially reefed genoa with ESE16-18 wind. The quartering seas are lumpy until we reach the drop 3 miles south of St John, where they smooth into rollers in the mile-deep water.

Despite significant sargasso, we put out a spread of six 50’ to 150’ handlines and 1 trolling rod set at 200’. Lines are rigged with two blue and two green Zuker tuna feathers, a green squid daisy chain, a pink tuna feather daisy chain, and a wire-rigged Ilander wahoo lure. To try to keep some lures beneath the sargasso, 2-pound cigar weights are set 15 feet in front of the lures on two handlines, and I rig an Old Salty No. 8 downrigger planar on a 100-foot line with the trolling rod line run down to the planar. In spite of these efforts, we are snagging lots of sargasso. After an hour of continuously cleaning the lines, I give up in frustration and just leave the lines in the water dragging haybales! Imagine my surprise when we’re 12 miles offshore and I look back to see a large yellow-green mahi-mahi break the surface. I punch in a 30-degree course change into the wind to slow the boat to 3 knots, then drag the 55”, 32-pound cow onboard. Fish is skinned, filleted, bagged, and placed into fridge and freezer. Just a note that the largest fish caught a week later during the St Thomas Dolphin Derby Fishing Tournament is ‘only’ 29.9 pounds.

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We’re at Christiansted Harbour in 4h15m, including the 10-minute slowdown to handle the catch, at an average speed of 8 kts. A first-time visitor should review in advance the harbor buoyage and hazards, where it’s 500-foot depth to hard aground in less than 10 boat lengths if you’re off-course on your approach! Just past the entrance, there are two channels on either side of Round Reef (a major hazard) that veer to starboard (to the north of Protestant Cay) and to port (towards St Croix Marina). I recommend the port channel. We venture to leeward of Protestant Cay looking for a spot to anchor that is close to the Christiansted waterfront, but it’s filled with boats on private moorings including a couple sunken boats. Instead, we find a lovely protected anchorage just north of St Croix Marina by the Altona Lagoon Park where we anchor in 8’ depth in firm sand (17.7512° N, -64.6961° E). It’s a protected half-mile dinghy ride to the waterfront boardwalk. The headland at Fort Louise Augusta light is keeping any swell out of the anchorage, though I think a winter north swell could make for a rolly night.

Batteries are down to 70% SOC so I start the generator and then cycle on several A/C units to put some load on the generator. With the boat cooled down, the next wise course of action is to go to our cabins for a 2-hour nap! Refreshed we dinghy to the boardwalk for lunch and some sightseeing. The boardwalk runs 0.4 miles from Fort Christiansvaern to the seaplane base and is lined with several restaurants, dive shops, and two small hotels. There are many places to securely tie up a dinghy alongside the boardwalk, and I coincidently find the bulkhead in front of the Brew STX brewpub the most protected. Lunch there is good, though we agree their three craft beers (blonde ale, session IPA, IPA) are a bit flat and flavorless.

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Christiansted still has traces of its Danish heritage with many imposing old buildings from the 18th century and lends itself to a 1 1/2 hour walking tour. We start at The Old Scale House from 1856 where all taxable goods leaving and entering Christiansted’s harbor were weighed. Nearby are the Old Danish Customs House, now the National Park Service headquarters (closed that day), and Fort Christiansvaern that was constructed between 1740 and 1856, and is well-restored with placards throughout describing the rooms and daily life (the NPS ticket office was closed, but fort was open for free self-guided tours). From the ramparts there are excellent views over the harbor and to the peak of Buck Island where signal fires were lit to warn of approaching ships. With two former gun batteries at Protestant Cay and Fort Louise Augusta creating interlocking fields of fire, the harbor never saw an enemy invader.

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Across the street is the Steeple Building from 1753, site of the island’s first Lutheran Church, and the Danish West India & Guinea Warehouse, built in 1749, and site of the some of the largest slave auctions in the Caribbean. Continuing down King Street, we come to the Danish Colonial design Government House used as the Danish governor’s residence until 1871, when the Danish West Indies capital was moved to Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas. At the next block is the Lord God of Sabaoth Lutheran Church, a neoclassical church built before 1740. Just beyond is the Limprecht Gardens & Memorial, a small urban park dedicated to Peter Carl Limprecht who served for 20 years (1888-1908) as governor of the Danish West Indies. Continuing two blocks towards the waterfront takes us to Centerline Car Rentals where we rent an economy car for $60/day for two days of island exploration.

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We finish the day on the waterfront with a light dinner at Rum Runners Restaurant that is very good.

Day 4 – A perfect golfing day with blue-skies and 12 kt winds. We drive 25 minutes to Carambola Golf Course, which is located in a valley on the northwest side of the island. The course was commissioned by Laurence Rockefeller, designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr, and opened in 1966. I played it once before in 1997, and the course had lost a bit of its luster due to the damage from Maria in 2017. The course was just reopened last fall and I saw dozens of grounds crew working on the property and irrigating tees and greens. Other than a few other groups, we had the course to ourselves. You can’t see the ocean from its inland location, but there are great valley views over the enormous property. With the dry fairways it’s an easy 6290 yards from the Blue tees (71.0 rating/126 slope). It’s a big step up to 6870 yards from the Black tees, and 7180 yards from the Gold. Greens fees with cart and club rental is $140.

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We drive to Cane Bay on the north shore and enjoy burgers and cold beer at iconic Off The Wall beach bar restaurant – a great casual local’s hangout just a few feet from the ocean. They describe the significant damage caused by Maria, but the rebuilding looks to be complete.

We continue eastward on the North Shore Road, past Salt River Bay and the site of Columbus’ landing during his second journey to the America’s in 1493, then continue past Christiansted on the very scenic and well-constructed East End Road to Point Udall, the easternmost point in the US and marked by a giant sundial erected for the Year 2000 millennium. I was really taken with the breathtaking views from the point and back across the north shore reefs towards Buck Island.

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A few miles west of Point Udall and close to the road you see the Very Long Baseline Array telescope, a large white 25-meter radio antenna dish pointed skyward. It’s one of 10 inter-connected VLBA stations located around the US, including Hawaii, that provide extremely high-resolution mapping of distant galaxies, monitoring the orbits of nearby asteroids, as well as tracking the movements of the earth crust to within a fraction of an inch! You can drive right up to the gate to peer at the VLBA that’s currently undergoing some post-Maria repairs, but there are no tours.

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We follow the South Shore Road past the Divi Carina Bay Resort and Casino. The Casino has reopened if you’re feeling lucky, but the resort is still actively rebuilding from Hurricane Maria damage.

We return to the waterfront in the evening. The boardwalk and restaurants fill with people near sunset and we head to The Mill for delicious brick oven fired pizza and a bushwacker (voted #2 of 4 tasted during the trip – excellent flavor, not too much chocolate syrup).

Day 5 – Another blue-sky day with 10-12 kt winds. It’s a short drive to The Buccaneer Golf Course at the Buccaneer Resort for a morning tee-time. It’s a par 70 course with a short and hilly 5668 yards from the back tees (68.2 rating/118 slope). It’s a lot of target golf off the tee with very challenging greens. Water hazards come into play on 7 holes. There are distracting ocean views from 13 holes (including 3 oceanfront holes). Fortunately, we have relatively calm winds, but it would be a severe test in a strong breeze. Greens fees with cart and club rental is $125.

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Searching for better craft beer, we head for the Leatherback Brewing Company on the southwest side of the island near the airport. Along the way we pass the Captain Morgan Rum Distillery (no time to stop) and the impressively massive Hovensa (St Croix Refinery) petroleum refinery and storage facility that as of 2010 was one of the top 10 largest refineries in the world. It’s been shuttered since 2012, but Limetree Bay is spending $1.3B to partially reopen it by end of 2019 and there is lots of activity behind the double security fences.

We are more impressed with the 10 beers on tap at the Leatherback Brewing Company, which opened in 2017. The brewery and tasting room are located in a large steel frame warehouse with indoor and outdoor seating. All the beers we tasted are crisp and fresh, with no off-flavors. The kitchen serves up simple appetizers and sandwiches. Definitely worth the 20-minute drive from Christiansted.

Throughout our drives on St Croix, we both comment on the overall cleanliness of the roadways, homes and properties – much, much less trash and debris than what we see scattered along the road and around homes on Tortola or St Thomas.

We return the rental car, and with the favorable weather we decide to motor 45 minutes to Buck Island Reef National Monument to anchor for some beach time and to overnight. I previously applied for an anchoring permit - Buck Island Anchoring Permit. The National Park Service approval came in the form of a text message. In order to anchor overnight, you need to have this approved permit and then to text them back on those days that you wish to overnight (no more than 7 days in a two-week period). Here’s a link to the park rules - Buck Island Park Rules

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A great onboard dinner of sautéed mahi-mahi fillet topped with a reduction of pan drippings, sour cream and chopped scallions, and cucumber salad. Wines were Hecht & Bannier Cote de Provence Rose 2017 and Martin Rey Sonoma County Pinot Noir 2017. Good thing we got a little exercise the last two days.

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Day 6 – Another 5 am wake-up call. Mean Captain! We’re underway at 5:30 am and head for Culebra, Spanish Virgin Island. Wind is from dead-astern at 6-7 knots, with gentle 2’ seas, so it’s going to be a 50nm motor to the harbor of Ensenada Honda. Another incredible deep-blue sky day. I really don’t need any more fish, but I set out the trolling rod on the port rod holder with the Ilander wahoo lure at 250’ and the drag set tight. Not many minutes later, I return from the starboard side helm to check the lure for sargasso only to find the reel de-spooled of all 450 yards of 80 lb mono and braid backer. I couldn’t hear the reel drag over the engine noise. Must have been big!

This mild disappointment is quickly overshadowed by the sight of several dolphins leaping a hundred yards away. They make a beeline to the boat, and for the next 15 minutes six spotted dolphins skitter from bow to bow riding the bow waves. Magical.

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By noon, we anchor in Ensenada Honda, Culebra between Cayo Pirato and Dewey. I always see lots of visiting boats anchor close to the town dock and the Dinghy Dock restaurant, but depths are 22 to 27 feet and I’ve witnessed one cruiser drag anchor midday as the breeze picked up. I much prefer a bit deeper into the bay where the water shallows to 10 feet and it’s still only a 600-yard dinghy ride to town.

I submit our arrival via the CBP ROAM app. It takes 10 minutes for an officer to initiate the videoconference. We both previously did the quick CBP ROAM videoconference interview to get our Verified Traveler number (this just involves holding your passport up to your face in front of the camera), so the officer simply confirms our travel plans and that we are not bringing in guns, over $10,000 in cash, or agricultural products (I state we have Ship’s Stores purchased on St Thomas that will not be removed from the vessel – good to go).

A few CBP ROAM app tips:
• Need a relatively modern smartphone to run the App. It does not work with a 5-year old Samsung 5, but no problems with Samsung 8 or 9.
• Upon loading the App to a Samsung phone, we got a repeated error message that we had not given the app permission to view our location although we set this permission to ALLOW when we loaded the app. We finally got it to work by resetting the permission to DENY, and then when we got the error message the app took us to the settings page where we reset the permission to ALLOW.
• Need to be within the US territorial waters when you submit the arrival info. The App identifies your location so if still in BVI waters, it won’t accept your submittal for a St John entry. I’ve not yet tried submitting a Culebra arrival while still 3 or 4 miles at sea – I’ve always submitted from Ensenada Honda while anchored or hovering.

I’ve been wanting to visit Playa Flamenco by boat, but it’s exposed to any East to North swell and trying to enter the bay with even a 3’ swell can be dangerous. Today the conditions are ideal so we motor 9.5nm to the bay. We anchor a few hundred yards away from a large catamaran and small monohull. There are two large buoyed swim areas on the east and west side of the beach so we land the dinghy west of center closer to where the food stalls are located. The beach here is long and shallow sloping so landing and launching the dinghy is relatively easy as we time the waves. This is surely one of the world’s finer beaches with a one-mile crescent of firm clean sand, great colorations from the inshore and off-lying reefs, friendly people, and nearby food stalls with inexpensive drinks and food - $2.20 Medalla beer, $3 Shrimp Empanada, $4 Lobster Empanada.

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I see the Norwegian flag flying off the monohull so I dinghy by to say hello to fellow Norwegians. The 30-year old skipper sailed from Europe with a couple buddies in the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers. That crew is now replaced by three young ladies from Norway – poor fellow! As the next day happens to be May 17th, Norway’s Constitution Day, I deliver a gift of mahi-mahi fillets and fish taco spice mix.

We are now becoming backwinded and I sense the swell is slightly increasing so not wanting to deal with any late-night mayhem, we continue 5nm to Playa Rosario, just north of Punta Tamarindo, on the western end of Culebra where we grab one of the 4 or 5 free mooring balls. We have an unobstructed view of the sunset that gets obscured by some distant clouds just before it sets. Well…nothing that can’t be cured with another fine dinner of Chicken Parmesan with mixed vegetables and garlic bread plus Tenuta Torciano Vino Nobile de Montepulciano 2015 and Tobin James Cellars ‘5’ Bordeaux-blend 2015.

Day 7 – We sleep in until 8:15am(!), then get underway. Sky is still mostly clear blue with faraway scattered clouds and the wind has picked up to E12-14. We motor 9.2nm east along the north shore of Culebra to Bahia de Tortugas, Culebrita. This 700-yard crescent beach lined with palm trees (that somehow survived Irma), watched over by the 1886 red-brick Spanish lighthouse, and inhabited by dozens of turtles is perhaps my most favorite beach in the all the Virgin Islands.

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Holding is excellent, though there are 5 mooring balls that survived the storms. By 11 am on this gorgeous Friday afternoon, an eventual twenty-five center consoles, express cruisers, and large sports fishers start arriving from Puerto Rico with families and friends aboard. Never seen so many Grady-White boats in one place. All the captains handle their boats with skill and the music level is not over the top. A completely different vibe than White Bay, JVD. By 5 pm, all but a couple boats are gone. The inertia while on our inner tubes makes it impossible for us to make the 20-minute hike to the lighthouse, or even the 5-minute hike to the Jacuzzi-like baths at the north end of the beach.

Fortunately, we find the energy to prepare a dinner of spaghetti with homemade meatballs and garlic bread accompanied by Peachy Canyon Winery Mustang Springs Zinfandel 2015 and 2016. The full moon rises over the palm trees casting a bluish glow on the beach.

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Day 8 – Another day of sleeping in with an 8 am departure! I try to plan a Culebra visit so that we have light winds and seas returning to St Thomas. Once you get above 16 knot winds blowing for a couple days it becomes a wet upwind motor. Today there is increasing cloudiness and winds are ESE13-14 – not bad! Coming around the north tip of Culebrita (or for that matter the eastern passage out of Ensenada Honda past Buoy #2), you can experience confused and lumpy seas until you’re 1-2 miles from the island. We have it today as we have an eastward flood tide plus wave reflections off the island setting up square waves as it meets the rapidly shoaling wind-driven swell. We simply slow down to 6 kts for the next 2 miles until the seas become orderly. It’s 19nm to Magens Bay, St Thomas, which I’ve been wanting to visit by boat. Once north of Savana Island the seas really settle down. Approaching Magen’s Bay, I go between Outer Brass and Inner Brass Island. My Navionics chart detail for the passage between Inner Brass Island and St Thomas, heading towards Hull Bay, is pretty coarse so I do not risk it to save 3 minutes. We anchor at 11 am just off the swim buoys at the north end of the beach.

As advertised by St Thomas Tourism Bureau, it’s a beautiful 2/3-mile stretch of beach. The north end of the beach has a concession and is peaceful, while the south end looks to have a bar with a few customers and a lame DJ blasting noise at a ridiculous level across the bay. Maybe this is a Saturday phenomenon and it dies down on weekdays or mid-afternoon when cruise passengers depart. Our plans to spend the day here are scuttled. Where to get some peace and quiet (or at least some good music)? I know…let’s continue another 13nm to Great Harbour, Jost Van Dyke for Foxy’s Music Fest and Full Moon Party…with an afternoon dinghy ride to Soggy Dollar Bar and Hendo’s Hideout. We grab one of the last mooring balls at 2:30 pm and quickly clear Customs & Immigrations.

Couple tips for a quicker clearance:
• Use the DD.MM.YYYY date format. Group of 10 used the MM.DD.YYY format and got to refill all their forms, while they processed me.
• Use dark ink.
• Immigration Form – Departure Record (B): The Port of Final Destination will be your next non-BVI port (e.g. St John or St Thomas if chartering from St Thomas). Date is the date of your departure from BVI (not the BVI arrival date)
• Immigration Form – Customs Declaration (C): If entering by private vessel or charter boat, I answer NO to importing fruits, plants, meats. If asked, you have “Ship’s Stores for ships’ use only and no removal.”
• Immigration Form – Customs Declaration (C): To avoid delay, simply have every crewmember complete and sign section C, regardless of the form instructions about head of family.
• C&I Marine Control Document – Port of Entry: Use the correct name – it’s West End, Tortola, not Sopers Hole, BVI; Great Harbour, JVD, not JVD; Road Town, Tortola, not Tortola, BVI.
• C&I Marine Control Document – Place of Birth: Write out the full US state name followed by USA (e.g. Pennsylvania, USA. Not PA, USA). For non-US born crew, I list the closest major city and the country.
• C&I Marine Control Document – Declaration of Firearms: Write ‘NONE’
• For charters entering the BVI for up to 7 days, the Customs agent will normally clear you in and out at the same time. For private vessels, this is at the discretion of the agent. I always ask nicely and have only had to return to C&I one time to clear-out (and that was clearing-in at West End). I now stick with Great Harbour for C&I.

We dinghy to White Bay, grab a Mango Man drink at Soggy Dollar and ease into chairs to take in the sights. For research purposes, we sample the bushwacker at Hendo’s Hideout (voted #4 of 4 – good, but too much chocolate syrup). We enjoy chicken roti and ribs dinner at Ali Baba’s Restaurant, which I always find consistently good and reasonably priced, then hang out at the Music Fest until 10 pm. The group of musicians known as “Foxy’s Funky Friends” were excellent.

Day 9 – It’s 8 am, partly cloudy with SE14-15 winds. Where to now? Original thought is to motor to Savannah Bay, Virgin Gorda, but as we pass Sandy Cay, I see we might make the 27nm to West End, Anegada in one tack. Up with full sails! Wind direction tends to veer from S-E toward East throughout the morning so we wind up 4 miles west of Anegada then motor to Setting Point. Anchor down at 12:30 pm and I count 25 boats anchored or on moorings (BB moorings are the only one’s empty). We arrange a taxi ($15pp) at Anegada Reef Hotel to Flash of Beauty, give Monica a hug and admire Mr. Wheatley’s handiwork on his rooftop dining area that is coming along nicely and offers unobstructed 360° views. They are awaiting tables, chairs, and umbrellas. I confirm Monica’s bushwacker is still the best (voted #1 of 4) as I consume chunky conch fritters, conch ceviche, and conch roti! Return taxi comes promptly, but too soon, at 5 pm.

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We still have lots of provisions to finish so we down grilled ribeye with Opolo Vineyards Serenade 2012 and Larner Vineyard and Winery Mourvedre 2015.

Day 10 – We’re underway at 7 am. Wind has picked up to ESE15-16 under yet another blue sky, and we’re close-reached under full main and partially furled genoa headed towards Great Dog. From there we turn down the SFD Channel on a broad-reach to Deadman’s Bay, Peter Island, anchoring in the southeast corner, nicely protected in the lee of Cabey Point. Scaffolding surrounds the resort’s beachfront units and large signs warn against trespassing. We dinghy to the shallows to enjoy a couple cold Carib’s. We could easily spend the day here, but decide we have to visit Willy-T #3.

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We find a strong, gusty wind funneling between the hillsides at Great Harbour, Peter Island. We secure a mooring ball just upwind of the Willy-T, but for an overnight stay with this wind I would try to find a ball or anchor close to the headland that extends to the northwest. Midday on a Monday and Willy-T has a good-sized crowd with several day charters stopping by for a shotski and high-dive.

We eventually move on to a deserted White Bay, Peter Island to overnight. It’s 25’ deep with swirling winds so we anchor to the east end of the bay with 200’ of chain, leaving the center and west end of the bay open to other boats. Out of nowhere comes a Moorings 50. After several failed attempts to set their anchor behind us, they move directly in front of us to drop their anchor on top of our rode. Skipper gives me a big thumbs up when his anchor finally grabs and he’s 50 feet off my bow. I raise a different finger and strongly encourage him to move along, which he does! The beach sand has been building back nicely since Irma, but there’s been no cleanup of the five or so mangled cabanas.

It’s a casual taco night dinner with two zinfandel-blends - J. Dusi Wines Fiorento 2016 and Castoro Cellars ‘East Meets West’ 2015.

Day 11 – OK…another blue-sky day with E14-16 wind. We’re underway at 8:15 am and motorsailing to Cruz Bay, St John to clear into C&I and visit a few shops. We dinghy to the NPS dock – don’t go to the Port Authority dock or you’ll be charged wharfage - and arrive at C&I shortly after their 10:30 am opening. Note that the CBP ROAM app won’t work for US Permanent Residents when entering US from a foreign country – they need to fingerprint and photograph you (For USVI to Spanish Virgin Island/Puerto Rico entry it works fine).

Formalities are quickly handled when you have your CBP Form 1300 Vessel Entrance Form and CBP Form I-418 Crew List filled out in advance, signed and dated.

Continuing our research, we vote Cruz Bay Landing as having the 3rd best bushwacker.

We motor past the near-deserted 40 mooring ball field at Caneel Bay and along the north shore. Winds are a bit gusty at Francis Bay so we secure a mooring at the more-protected Maho Bay. I paddle ashore to explore the funky new Maho Crossroads beach bar/food truck. Lots of casual seating, shade, and games.

By sunset there are 10 boats on the 57 moorings balls in Francis/Maho Bay. Mooring fee ($26, or $13 with the Senior Pass) is on the honor system and paid at the nearby floating pay station. Last night supper is a hodge-podge of leftovers and we clean the boat and pack our gear.

Day 12 – We’re underway at 6 am for the 2-hour motorsail to Crown Bay Marina to refuel when they open at 8 am. We arrive a few minutes early and call Channel 11 for clearance and we’re welcomed in to refuel 120 gallons at $4.02. We have 64 combined hours on the engines (@1.4 gph) and 56 hours on the generator (@ 0.6 gph). Our trip log is 256 nm.

I leave the Med-mooring docking to CYOA staff. A quick debrief, some last-minute Caribs, good-byes to CYOA staff and a reminder for them to take the frozen Mahi and (incongruously) a case of leftover Carib, and it’s on to an 11:15 am taxi for a 1:50 pm Delta flight. Airport lines are short. For weekday departures, I’m finding arriving 2-1/2 hours prior to departure is sufficient. Thankfully both flights home arrive early. To avoid DIF, planning for the next trip is well underway.

Hope you enjoyed and found some useful tidbits in this trip report!
Posted By: Maria_and_Steve

Re: USVI/SVI/BVI Trip Report - 06/05/2019 10:16 PM

Very nice detailed report. Thanks! smile
Posted By: finnman

Re: USVI/SVI/BVI Trip Report - 06/09/2019 12:25 PM

Great report. We are considering St Croix and the SVI for a future trip. Have recently chartered twice with Virgin Islands Yacht Charters out of Compass Point Marina and love the convenience of a St Thomas operation. Thanks for taking the time.
Posted By: ugo

Re: USVI/SVI/BVI Trip Report - 09/14/2019 05:18 PM

thanks! great report.
Over the years we had done most of those stops...except STX...and it brought back so many pleasant memories.
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