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Lockdown in the US Virgin Islands

March 28, 2020

We sailed from Antigua making brief stops in Nevis and St Kitts. From there we had a 30 mile beat up to St Barts through heavy seas. When we arrived, the forward head was flooded due to a bad seal on the forward hatch and all paper products were reduced to sludge.

St Barts is French and the port of Gustavia is beautifully maintained with lots of shops and restaurants. But it is the most expensive island we have visited so far (e.g. USD $25 hamburgers). The harbor is large but with so many boats it was difficult to find a place to anchor and we settled for a spot just outside the channel. During the night there was a wind shift and we were awakened early in the morning by the harbor police asking us to move and make room for an approaching barge. We headed a mile up the coast to picturesque Anse du Colombier and enjoyed some peaceful snorkeling and hiking.

We had long anticipated visiting St Maarten for the Heineken Regatta, the largest sailing regatta in the Caribbean with boats participating from all over the world. We arrived early and decided to head over to Anguilla where we found the anchorages limited and expensive. We made a day trip to highly touted Prickly Pear Island in hopes of doing some diving but found only sand and rocks. We headed back to St Maarten where we could watch the racing boats arrive and enjoy great food in a festive atmosphere.

St Maarten has a large lagoon that is accessed via a lifting bridge and a 56-foot-wide channel. The bridge has scheduled openings and we enjoyed many happy hours at the Sint Maarten Yacht Club watching the “parade of boats” entering and leaving the lagoon. A lot of the racing crews donned costumes and hammed it up for the spectators. Just two months earlier a super yacht took out the bridge operator’s shed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFqBEs7UQAg

We very much enjoyed St Maarten and its well-stocked chandleries. We hooked up with friends on Viridian and Greg, a racing enthusiast, knew may of the boats and crews and educated us on who to watch and what to look for. We took our dinghy out to the starting line of the first race and watched the near collisions as boats jockeyed for position. At the end of each race day everyone headed for the regatta village for food, entertainment, and drinks.

I was BBQ’ing on the back of the boat one night with the flood light on when a school of tarpon showed up. Their eyes glowed orange in the light and appeared a bit frightening until I realized what they were.

We left St Maarten well vaccinated against COVID-19 with countless rum drinks. Our first stop in the British Virgin Islands was Virgin Gorda and we headed to the north end of the island which is noted for its bars, restaurants, and water sports. It was quit sobering to see the lasting effects of hurricane Irma that struck a direct hit in 2017. There was only one restaurant and one bar open and it was unclear if any of the other business would rebuild. We got an unexpected surprise one evening when hundreds of flamingos passed in front of a full moon and landed in the adjacent lagoon.

The BVIs provided a pleasant cruising ground with islands clustered close together. We often sailed between anchorages with only the jib to stretch out our passages and stay relaxed. We enjoyed snorkeling and did a scuba dive on the shipwreck Rhone.  We particularly liked The Bight on Norman Island with its secure anchorage and two functioning restaurants; a nice one for our 49th wedding anniversary dinner and a raucous Willy T’s for a good time. We spent our last night in the BVIs at Willy-T’s in the company of the Yachting Week participants who are real party people with dancing on the bar, body shots, and ….  We felt this would be a good time to start our quarantine period.

We checked out of the BVIs as the harbor was closing for COVID-19 and moved the 6 miles to the US Virgin Islands. We had called ahead to make sure that we would be allowed to check in. We completed the formalities on St John and headed to Francis Bay on the north side of the island where we have been in quarantine ever since. The bay is filled with boats doing the same thing so there is no visiting other than standing off in a dinghy. We are fortunate that we are in a beautiful marine park with good protection. We busy ourselves with boat projects, puzzles, cards, and sunsets.

We have changed our cruising plans and have contracted to have the boat shipped from St Thomas to Vancouver, BC, sometime in April, although timing is somewhat unpredictable with the virus restrictions. We plan to cruise Canada this summer and Alaska next summer.

St Maarten, Heineken Regatta

Diving

 

St Barts, BVI, USVI

From → Travel

One Comment
  1. Carolyn McDonald permalink

    Glad to hear you are safe!

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