US Virgin Islands

December 28th

Red Hook Harbor I booked a day long sailboat trip on Fantasy, a boat owned and operated by Pat and Brian Heath. We had to get to the Red hook harbor by 9:30am. We of coursed showed up early (9am). So we walked about a little and noticed the sailboat out in the harbor amongst all the other boats. When we went to the street, we found all the shops were closed. I noticed the Cafe Wahoo which was recommended to me, I decided that that would be a good place to eat dinner tonight. We had no change to call them so I walked in (their door was open). And asked if I could make reservations. No problem. The man there was quite nice and couldn't get to the reservation book because it was still locked up, but he took our names. The reservations were for 5:30, as early as they opened. Our boat would get us back by 4pm and we decided not to go back to the hotel first, so didn't want too much time in Red Hook before dinner (Red Hook is not that big).

Joel and Daphne Then it was back to the flagpole to wait for our dingy ride to the sailboat. Brian picked us up. Brian is a nice guy but very quiet. Pat greeted us as we got on the boat. She is obviously the loquacious one in the family.

The other four passengers (the boat only takes 6 out each day) arrived a bit late. They were a family from Philadelphia. I really wish I could remember their names, but the only name I remember is Ann.

Pat gave us the rules of the boat, how to hang on and what drinks she made. I had a Bloody Mary. I asked for very little alcohol. When she handed it to me she kidded me about putting a lot of vodka in it just for me. She has my husband's sense of humor. When asked what her recipe was (since it was quite good) she said it was a family recipe over a hundred years old. So we just knew it was from a mix. Her rum punch is indeed homemade and very good. Much lighter than the hotel fare.

We went out to the front of the boat and sailed off. Joel was having a fabulous time with our new camera. I was having a great time relaxing on the boat. The surf was up today so the ride was fun. Unfortunately it meant the snorkeling was not so good. Heavy surf kicks up the sand from the bottom and lowers the visibility by quite a bit.

We went out to Drake's Passage, about two miles from Jost van Dyke, and were told that we had crossed the invisible dotted yellow line between US and British territory. On the way out, the father of the other family took control of the helm. He looked like he was having fun getting a sailing lesson. I thought about asking for one, but I was enjoying myself up front, occasionally getting a splash of salt water.

Caneel Bay panarama
We came back around to St. John and anchored in Caneel Bay. The bay was fairly protected, so it was a good place to stop with the surf. We were told about Caneel Bay, a ritzy place with no phones, no TV and no air conditioning. You pay about $550 to $1500 per night. Very exclusive. Our travel agent tried to book us there but they wouldn't take reservations for less than seven days. We were sure that Harrison Ford would be able to stay for less time if he wanted. We were told that lots of famous people stay here. It is certainly secluded and the beach was just lovely.

Pillar coral We snorkeled out of the boat to the bits of reef along the shoreline. There were lots of beautiful fish. One very large porgy was hiding behind a fan coral. I dove down to get a better view of him. There were lots of the usual fish that we saw in other spots that we snorkeled in. Of note there was a large school of 18" bar jacks. I think they are very lovely fish with their black and blue stripes, and I love to see them so large. We also saw a great barracuda there. I almost missed him since the visibility was so low and he blended in well with the sandy bottom. He was quite fat about 6" in diameter and just over 2' long. He looked at us, and then ignored us. He was not very curious for a barracuda.

There was a beautiful specimen of pipe coral growing from the bottom. The coral is very lovely when you are close to it since it has little tentacles that wave with the water and since the water was a little pushy they fluttered quite nicely.

After snorkeling, we swam back to the boat, then on to the beach. We didn't have our towels with us so sitting on the beach just held no appeal, but we floated around. Joel had brought our camera across in our Pelican case, so he started taking photos. I floated on my back in the water, soaking up the sun.

Sunset at Red Hook We saw the dingy coming back to pick up the ones that didn't want to swim back. We put our flippers back on and headed back toward lunch. We were getting quite hungry. We had curried chicken and salad. And, of course, rum punch. Yum. Then we had about a half an hour more in the bay before we had to go home. I was feeling lazy and just laid down to be rocked by the waves. It was relaxing.

Our trip back was just as nice and I was sad at the end of our sail. I decided I really like sailing. I love the rock of the boat. I've never really liked power boats, they go so fast they crash into every wave, but a sail boat doesn't crash, it just rocks and isn't jarring.

Back at the harbor we had a while to kill before our reservations. We walked along the shops and went through a few. I found a print I liked, but we didn't want to carry it around, so thought we might come back later. But later we forgot and I was sad that I hadn't bought it.

At 5:30 we stepped into the Cafe Wahoo. Its decor is nothing to write home about but it sticks out into the harbor. The views from our hotel resaurants are much better. But the food here is wonderful. We ordered the conch fritters which were excellent. For our meals we had the rare Yellow fin tuna and the Wahoo. They were both to die for. Then came dessert, it was a perfect key lime pie, my favorite. I'm glad we ate out from our hotel one night. We get so tired after a full day neither of us gets up the energy to go out, but the Cafe Wahoo was quite worth it.


(Note: I wrote a lot today because Daphne was too busy sunning herself on the deck of the sailboat. But Daphne added her own commentary about the sailing trip a few days later.)

Today we went on a sailboat, the Fantasy out of Red Hook.

We left the hotel early after eating a bagel from the hotel store. We got to Red Hook at 8:45 but the boat did not leave until 9:30 so we hung around the dock. Daphne saw the Wahoo restaurant, which she heard was good so she made reservations while we waited.

We were told to go to the dock and I expected the boat to be tied up but it was not at the dock; it was moored in the harbor. At 9:30 the captain, Brian, came over in a little dingy and took us to the boat, but just us. The other guests were late.

At 9:45 the other four passengers showed up, a family from Philly. They are staying at the same hotel and had trouble getting a cab. Then we were off. We used the motor to get out of the harbor and then put up the sails. Our hosts, Brian and Pam, had us sit on the deck for the ride over to St. John. I kept the camera out and took lots of shots of the scenery and boats as we made the trip.

We sailed over to the north side of St. John. We sailed up to 2 miles from Jost van Dyke in the UK Virgin Islands before turning the boat around and coming back to anchor in Caneel harbor. The sail out was very overcast and we were concerned for the snorkeling but after the boat stopped, the sun came out.

We anchored in the harbor with dozens of other small sailboats and went overboard with our snorkel gear. We snorkeled for 45 minutes or so on the North side of the harbor before swimming for the beach to relax in the shallow water.

The snorkeling was OK. The water was murky because of the high wave action. The reef was nice and the fish were plentiful but it was not quite as good as Waterlemon Cay.

After snorkeling for a while, Daphne and I swam back to the boat to drop off the underwater camera and get the digital camera in the Pelican box. We then swam to the beach. The other people from the boat were already on shore soaking up the sun. Pam had used the dingy to bring over their towels.

After using the camera for a while and trying out the panorama mode, Daphne and I frolicked in the shallow water, which had a beautiful sandy bottom. Then we swam back to the sailboat for lunch.

Lunch, spread out on a small table in the back of the boat, was Chicken curry and salad. After eating we hung around on the boat, being too warm to bother getting in the water again.

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