Wednesday, February 26, 2014


After checking out of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) at the west end of Tortola, Motivator made the short hop (9 NM) over to Coral Harbor on the east end of St. John.  There is no US Customs station in Coral Bay, but we were able to check in using the Small Vessel Reporting system (SVR).  I will go into deeper detail about the US’s SVR system in a subsequent posting.

Of course, our first stop after ensuring our anchor was secure was Skinny Legs Bar & Grill.  After the “vacation” pricing in the BVIs, Skinny Legs was a welcome change.  Two-thirds of St. John is National Park and the remaining third seems to have become the home of US citizens seeking an alternate lifestyle.

Although I am usually the only guy over fifty without a ponytail, we enjoy the laissez-faire atmosphere of the small enclave.  Unfortunately, that attitude extends into the anchorage which is cluttered with derelict boats and squatters attached to “private” moorings that leave little room for the occasional transit boat.

After lunch we returned to find that the small fenders we had anchored a good distance behind was actually the “private” mooring for a rather large and dilapidated excursion boat.  Although the captain was courteous, he wanted us to move as much as we wanted out of there.  He started his engine and moved aside on the “private” mooring so that we could pull Motivator’s anchor up. 

Our initial plan after being evicted from Coral Harbor was to scoot over to the west side of the island and into Cruz Bay where we had been before.  However, as we rounded Rams Head on the southeast corner of the island, we spotted an available mooring in Salt Pond Bay.  A quick check of our guidebook ensured it was a National Park Service mooring (see; archived posting, Golden Age Card, March 11, 2013), so we grabbed it.

Sunset from Salt Pond Bay

We found Salt Pond to be lovely.  The well protected little cove with deep water was very quiet.  So, we splurged and stayed two nights paying the park service $7.50 per night for the mooring.

Small visitor behind Motivator

The shore was too rocky for our dinghy, so we swam from the back of Motivator to shore to do a little hiking.  The rocks pictured above would rattle as the surf receded. 

Cruise ship pulling into Charlotte Amalie ahead of Motivator

After enough communing with nature, we left St. John for St. Thomas and the port at Charlotte Amalie.  It is definitely a cruise ship town, but it still retains a certain charm that manages to escape all of the jewelry stores and T-shirt shops.

The Amber Waterfall

Pollie had been waiting all year to visit the amber museum once again, and was very disappointed to find out that it had closed and the collection had been shipped to Germany.  Oh well, she did manage to find a couple of pieces in one of the many gift shops.  

Pirates make good neighbors

When we visit Charlotte Amalie, we like to anchor near the pirate ships’ moorings.  We find that after a hard day of pirating and taking the cruise ship passengers on adventures, the pirates return to shore and the pirate boats are then quiet neighbors.

During the day, after some hurried preparation, the pirates rush off to indoctrinate another load of sun burnt want-a-be pirates.

Our entertainment was more sedate.  We went to the local supermarket for provisions and to Hooters for Internet access.

View from a “dollar safari” at another “dollar safari”

Like many of the islands, St. Thomas has a network of independent busses.  Here they use ¾ ton trucks with five rows of seats mounted where the bed should be.  Driving on the left with left hand drive vehicles allows the curb side to be open for easy ingress/egress and the driver is on the correct side to collect your dollar.

Bus selfie

Evidently there is an official bus system, but like any many places the public system is not reliable.  The “dollar safari” seems to have taken over.  Washington, DC, please take note.

American Yacht Harbor

We rode the “dollar safari” out to Red Hook at the east end of the island.  Approximately 16 years previously we had sat in the same booth using walkie-talkies to direct the cleaning of the charter boat by our son and his cousin.  They had been less than congenial crew mates on our charter so we had them clean the Island Packet sailboat upon return.  We laughed as they could not figure out where we were watching from.

Unfortunately in Charlotte Amalie we had to say goodbye to our friends Jeff and Izzy on our sister ship the Izzy R.  They have been our friends and sometimes travel companions for almost three years.  As we head north back to the states, they have elected to continue cruising the Caribbean.  Fair seas and cheap diesel.

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