03 May 2009

Coral Bay, St. John

Coral Bay, St. JohnAnchored in Coral Bay
St John Island
U.S. Virgin Islands

  • 1189nm to Charleston, SC
First a big shout out to Mom Larson who is home recovering from knee surgery. We hope you are up and mobile soon!!

We left St Thomas motoring up the west coast and returned back to St John for a short 5 mile motor upwind to Maho Bay on St Johns east coast. We grabbed one of the National Park's mooring balls and spent the afternoon swimming off the white sand beach and explored inland. Maho Bay is just a quarter mile south of Cinnamon Bay where we had been moored weeks before on our last trip around St John. And most the island's east coast is part of the National Park.
This coast is very unique as the bay is lined with white sand beaches and not a resort in site! There are many turtles to be spotted and porpoises swimming by to say hello. Just down the bay at Cinnamon Bay the National Parks have a campground. There are camp sites, tents, and tiny cottages just feet from a perfect beach. And is one of the cheapest places to stay in St John.

Just off where we were moored is Maho Bay Camp , a private eco lodge which has 114 tent cottages on platforms on a steep wooded slope. All the cottages are connected by stairs and walkway's and walking around involves going either straight up, or down. We did manage to climb the 118 steps for a cold beer from their small store.

Our motor from St Thomas was not all drama free. When we motored out the engine was sounding louder then normal and the temperature gauge was reading a bit high. So after a good nights sleep I climbed into my favorite space in Sandpiper... the 'engine room'. I pulled off the impeller plate and found only two fins left on the sea water pump's impeller, and the broken off fins were jamming the intake. In the last four years I have become quite an expert at rebuilding this pump all over the world as it seems to love to self destruct quite randomly. Once finished we ran the engine and all was well, so we cut loose our mooring for a seven mile motor sail upwind around St John's east coast to where we are presently anchored in protected Coral Bay.

Along the way we tried to catch dinner, but ended up with a four foot barracuda. Once we got our lure back, it was released. We were in Coral Bay over a week ago, but only had the chance to stay one night. We are hoping to spend the next week here to check out this end of St John. Cruz Bay where we had been staying on St John's west end, and is just a few miles away. But compared to Coral Bay, it is in another world. Cruz Bay is where all the islands' ferries arrive, and is the main city on the island. Coral Bay is more like out of some salty sailors novel.

Most all the boats in Coral Bay are on moorings permanently and there are many colorful characters living out on their boats. We are a bit of an oddity here as most the boats here have never even left St John. They would consider a trip to the BVI's, just a few miles away, a major passage. Many of the boats here are as old as the people that live aboard them and I am sure only a small percentage of them could ever leave the harbor under their own power. But Coral Bay does have its charms. Ashore by the dingy dock is Skinny Legs bar/restaurant where the bar is full of boat people getting their daily tot of grog. And the people working behind the bar are the boat people that have jobs.

One of the cast of characters you are guaranteed to find perched at the bar is 'Pirate Bill'. Bill looks something out of 'Pirates of the Caribbean', being about 80 years old with long white hair and a beard. Pirate Bill wears a necklace of five Spanish doubloons he proudly wears and told us when he was younger he swam down and found them when he was working salvage in his younger days. Pirate Bill asked Amy where she was from and after she told him we were from California, he said "I used to live in California in the forties." He then stated to us he hadn't worn shoes in over twenty years!

In the evening when business slows down everyone stops talking and all watch the bar's TV before heading back to their boats. Skinny Legs is more of a cruiser family room than a bar for the local folks. But even if you are just dropping in for their famous burger, you are more than taken care and instantly part of the family.

Sandpiper's plans are to stay here at least till Friday where we hope to have decided what we are doing next. Hurricane season is rapidly approaching.

Stay Tuned!!
Tom and Amy

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