US Virgin Islands

We set off from the Bitter End to head to the USVI’s – but diverted just before we got there and went back to Jost Van Dyke again! Spend several days there at the Bubbly Pool – a rock pool with incoming wooshes of water! We enjoyed a lovely afternon there – and then went back the following day for a follow up!  We met a lovely couple there – who might help us through the Panama Canal when the time comes…

After nearly four weeks in the British Virgin Islands, we moved over to the American Virgin Islands, which is largely National Park and therefore they don’t allow anchoring except in a few places, so we have to use the mooring balls which are plentiful and low(ish) cost.

Saint John turned out to be our favorite stop so far with beautiful beaches and great walking trails. The difficulty we had was that they are rather strict about how and where you can land a dinghy – so we were forced to land on a beach and lift her to above the high tide line. All well and good – since our new dinghy’s sole redeeming feature is that she’s light – but the problem is sand and water… You can’t land on the beach in your walking shoes – they’d get wet, so we go ashore in sandals and they get wet and covered in sand, which makes for hiking in them rather tricky and a somewhat extreme exfoliating experience! I did give in one time and retrieved sneakers and socks – but really eliminating all the sand off one’s tootsies was not an easily accomplished task.

One walk we did was up the hill to view some ruins that we could see from Toodle-oo! That trail then continued up another hill so we followed it… Now as all Balme’s know, all good walks end at a pub. Unfortunately, this one ended at a bus stop in the middle of nowhere. All we could do was back-track all the way back down – at least that was easier than the up part in the extreme heat and humidity of the forest.

Another walk took us to a ruined sugar mill – it had been quite a large enterprise once upon a time. The whole of the Virgin Island group’s economy was based on sugar production – up until about 1800 – but you’d never know it now – not a sugar cane plant spotted once! Since this was a short walk, we decided to extend it and went via yet more ruins, right over the top of the island to Coral Bay on the other side – where fortunately a pub awaited! 3 pints and a burger later, it was a rather more difficult return walk!

The beaches in St. John are great – and the snorkeling too. I got some nice GoPro footage that I’ll try to upload – though unfortunately, when we went to the best spot, the battery in the GoPro had died…

We’d been watching weather for our passage across the Anegada Passage to Sint Maarten – and unfortunately our weather window arrived a little earlier than we would have liked – but the next opportunity to make the eastward passage would likely not show up until some time in January so we left Saint John on December 15th and arrived in Sint Maarten the following morning, having motored almost the entire way.

We did do a little fishing and snagged this beautiful Mahi Mahi… We were looking forward to cooking him up but the process of preparing him requires bleeding him (hang him upside down in the ocean for a little while… well I managed to drop the slippery slimy thing into the water – no dinner tonight!

We are anchored in “The Lagoon” on Sint Maarten in just 8ft of nasty looking water, with 100ft of rode out, with wind gusting upto 35 knots and likely to remain like this for the next week! Not very relaxing!

The Mahi Mahi that got away!

The Mahi Mahi that got away!

Toodle-oo! from the Ruins (Far Left boat...)

Toodle-oo! from the Ruins (Far Left boat…)

Steep climb...

Steep climb…

Cinnamon Bay

Cinnamon Bay

Our Beach - Cinnamon Bay

Our Beach – Cinnamon Bay

Lets climb to that Ruin!

Lets climb to that Ruin!

Photogenic Bird!

Photogenic Bird!

Insect Home ( About 2 ft diameter mud ball!)

Insect Home ( About 2 ft diameter mud ball!)

Sugar Factory

Sugar Factory

Pretty flower - Pretty Bug!

Pretty flower – Pretty Bug!

Toodle-oo! from more ruins

Toodle-oo! from more ruins

Money Grabbing Boobey

Money Grabbing Boobey

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