Friday, March 15, 2013

Exploring St. John’s


If you want a beautiful place in the Caribbean to visit without a passport—I highly recommend St. John.  It is very beautiful here.  And aside from all the boats—It is quite remote.  There are a lot of tourists, but way less than a lot of other vacation places.  There aren’t any giant resorts here, so there are less people.  Cruise ships come every day, and they thrive on tourism here. But the cruise shippers take the day trips, or even just stay on St. Thomas, leaving St. John to those of us who venture to it.  There are hundreds of charter boats for the day, the week, the month here.  It’s hard to find live aboards like us, because there are soooo many chartered boats at each anchorage.  Most of them are sail boats, but there are several large mega yachts too.  They are fun to watch and admire.  The sailboats, because they are on a weeks vacation, move around every few hours, trying to fit in all that the Islands have to offer.  We sit at an anchorage for at least a few days (unless weather drives us away), so we watch the other boats come and go all day.

Most of St. John is a US National Park.  This means a Junior Ranger Badge to earn for the kids.  So we headed into the park office located in Cruz Bay for packet info and to find out what else we should see and do in the park.  IMG_1551

IMG_1538The next day the winds shifted and surge started coming into our peaceful anchorage.  That meant it was time to move on.  And with the wind change, we could now head to an anchorage on the north side of St. John.  We pulled into Francis Bay, but found it was still getting a bit of north waves into it, so we went a little further east to Lienster Bay.  There we found it more calm and peaceful.  We decided to take a look at picking up a mooring ball rather than anchoring.  We had been told, and all the park info we read said the mooring balls were only for boats up to 60 feet in length, and we are at 65 feet.  As we pulled up to the mooring ball we found it marked for a big boat, 61ft – 100ft.  We were excited that there were mooring balls just for us to use.  During our stay there we saw lots of boats, under 60 feet pick up those big boat balls not knowing they are taking up a mooring for a larger boat.  There are only a few of those mooring balls around, so I was sad to see other boaters not paying attention when they could choose a different mooring.  I also hope the park will update their info so the word will get out and other large boats will know there are moorings available for big boats.  The park would like to go anchor free as it can damage the coral and sea life below.  However, they are not doing a great job of getting helpful info out.



IMG_1517Leinster bay was a good spot to go ashore and visit the Annaberg Sugar Mill Ruins and Windmill.  The park as volunteers stationed there most days to answer questions and share in some of the traditions of the Island.  A lady was baking the type of bread that was made in the 1800s.  Down by the garden there was fresh coconut to sample.  IMG_1493

IMG_1521From Annaberg we followed the road to a short trail that took us out to the beach on Francis bay.  We could see the beaches on both Maho and Cinnamon Bays from here.  It was quite picturesque.

We stayed at Lienster Bay for a few days and had fun snorkeling the area.  Benjamin and I swam from the boat about 50 yards towards shore where a lot of day trip boats brought people to snorkel.  We saw lots of parrot fish, and lots of sea cucumbers.  On the way back to the boat David came by in the tender and picked us up.  He took us over to Waterlemon Cay nearby and I snorkeled there for a bit while he took cold Benjamin back to the boat.  I then made the long swim from there back to the boat to find that Calvin and Isabel were now ready to go snorkeling.  So back to Waterlemon we went in the tender.  Madison soon joined us and we explored the area more.  We saw some beautiful stands of elkhorn coral.  I saw a turtle pop its head up, but couldn’t find it in the water.  We saw lots of different fish and LOTS of spiny sea urchins.   After snorkeling we got out our fish ID book to look up what we had seen.DSCN3631_thumb[1]DSCN3639_thumb[1]IMG_1532

We also celebrated Benjamin’s Birthday while at Lienster Bay.  Benjamin is now 5 years old.  The kids enjoyed their day off of school to celebrate.IMG_1689

At night we enjoy checking out what fish are swimming around the boat.  With a bright flashlight we can often see tons of tarpon off the side of the boat looking to eat.IMG_1770IMG_1647

Gorgeous sunsets every night.

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