Happy New Year everyone! Hope that you all had a blast bringing in the new year, we sure missed being there with all of you!
We’ve been on the move and as busy as ever and have lots to share with you.
Last we let you hanging we had just arrived in St. Croix, USVI. First stop for us was in Christiansted.
Christiansted is one of the two main towns in St. Criox. The anchorage has a bit to be desired it was rolly on the east side of Protestant Key (the small key in the middle of the harbor) and anchoring on the west side of the key it was really loud with the seaplanes coming and going all of the time. So as you can imagine it was not a great place to anchor but it was a cool town to visit.
Christiansted is full of history. The streets are lined with some of the oldest structures that we have ever seen. Maybe because of all of the bricks it kind of reminded me of San Juan except the bricks in San Juan were blue, here everything was built out of yellow bricks.
Seven flags—Spanish, Dutch, British, French, Knights of Malta, Danish, and, finally, the Stars & Stripes—have flown at different times over the island, influencing the island’s distinctly 18th-century European architecture. Measuring 28 miles long and 7 miles at its widest point, St. Croix is the largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Because it is so far from the other Virgin Islands most cruisers don’t make it here. We had not originally planned on coming here either but because the weather had been not been right for us to sail to St. Martin we were still ready to explore somewhere new.
When we first anchored and went in to clear in with Customs we ran into some old friends that we had originally met in Luperon, DR. Our friends Alicia and Kyle along with their dog for the sake of security they now call “the brown one” were here in Christiansted. They had their boat hauled out in the boat yard and were working on it. It was awesome to see them again! We cleared in and made plans to get together later that night. They also treated us to a fabulous Christmas dinner, thank you so much for the great company and food! Turkey was a BIG treat for Rachel and Brian!
The second day that we were in St. Croix we decided to check out famous Buck Island. Just about a mile and a half off the north coast of St. Croix you will find an idyllic little island called Buck Island. Buck Island Reef National Monument was first protected by the US Government in 1948 to “preserve one of the finest marine gardens in the Caribbean Sea”. Then in 1961 it was established as a National Monument by President Kennedy. The park was expanded by President Clinton to include much of the water surrounding the island, an act which was not well liked by the local fisherman. The powder white sands of this beach has been voted one of the world’s most beautiful beaches by National Geographic.
Wow, this island is beautiful! We anchored just off of the white sand beach and went to shore. We found a walking trail that led us up high to reveal an incredible view of the Caribbean Sea and the surrounding reefs.
After taking in the view we we sailed over to the east side of Buck Island where we picked up a mooring ball and jumped off the side of the boat to explore the underwater water world. The snorkeling here was great! The reef here was lots different than what we had expected. There were tall coral walls surround with a variety of fish. Rachel had heard that we would probably see some sharks and she was excited. We did see lots of barracuda but no sharks…maybe next time. We had our fun for the day and headed back to Christiansted to anchor for the night.
As we were entering the harbor we saw some familiar boats. We recognized two boats from Culebra that we knew! Way too cool, our friends David from Peregrine and Frank and Denise on Here and Now were in the harbor! What a surprise to see them! It is always great to run into friends when sailing in new places.
We had great time catching up with each other and made plans to rent a van for the day to take a trip around the island. Thanks Frank for toting us around and sorry that I was a back seat driver at times…it’s scary to get used to cars driving on the “other” side of the road!
One road stop we made was at a popular tide pool along the north side of the island. This was one of the main attractions that Rachel had wanted to visit. She had done her research and it was about a 45 minute hike that one reviewer on Tripadvisor had written that her 5 year old hiked “no problem”. Alright it was not that strenuous but I could not imagine many 5 year olds hiking this trail. It was beautiful though!
As we were making our final approach to the tide pools we passed by a family that was hovering over a girl that was laying on the ground that looked a bit like ground beef. The teen-aged girl was bloody and bruised and her mom explained that it was “a bit rough” to go into the tide pools. We offered what assistance we could which was not much other than some water and bananas that we had and they explained that they had help on the way. We headed down to the pools to see what it looked like.
Yup, definitely too rough! As Brian and Rachel checked the pools out from a closer view point they came across a memorial for someone that had died there….yikes this place seemed very dangerous! Yes, I am a mom but I had to take in to account that Rachel was also an adult so I let her make her own decision if she wanted to try to get into the pools or not. Thankfully she also decided that it was not a great idea and we just took pictures. Whew! Later we did some further research and apparently lots of people have died here and even one person was swept out to sea never to be seen again. Not sure if we would have hiked to this attraction if we had know it was this dangerous ahead of time. Needless to say Rachel left a review of her own!
We had fun exploring and an awesome time seeing all of our friends again but New Years Day was coming up and we heard that the only place to see fireworks was at Frederiksted, the second largest town on the island and on the west end. I love fireworks and can not imagine New Years Eve without them so we headed out that way.
We had a fabulous News Year Eve and following days too! We made new friends with some fellow sailors that were in Frederiksted and we got to see the St. Croix Carnival Parade (aka St. Croix Crucian Christmas Festival Adult Parade).
The parade was awesome! The costumes were beautiful the music was crazy and we had a great time!
The highlight of Frederiksted for me though was finally finding Chaney. For those who don’t know, chaney is shards of fine china which can mostly be found along the beaches and on plantations here in St. Croix. How did these miniature works of art come about? Well here’s a little history. First of all the name, a word made up by local children who used to smooth and round out these shards and use them as play money, combining the words “china” and “money” they became forever known as Chaney.
How did Chaney get here? Well, one explanation is that aboard passenger ships originating from Europe passengers found many of their luxury items, mainly their dinnerware had broken during their journey. China plates, tea cups, and urns being some of the items taxed upon weight caused these broken pieces to be thrown overboard in order to avoid paying the taxes. The second explanation is rather simple, while washing fine china after a meal some items began to chip or simply break. Since there was no trash pick up in those days, garbage and other trash was tossed out the kitchen window.
Another very historic explanation came during the slave rebellions and the infamous ‘Fireburn’ in 1878. The slaves in desire of their freedom looted and burned these finely-appointed plantations and many of the items were destroyed.
When I first heard that we were coming to St. Criox I was so excited because I really want to find some chaney. We had met a fellow sailor in Luperon that had shown me hers and told me that she had found it in St. Croix. Ever since then I had wanted to find some!
When we first arrived here we snorkeled all over and looked everywhere for it but could not find any but Frederiksted was the cure for that! I’m not going to say exactly where we found it but if you know me and send me an e-mail I’d be happy to share the location so you can find some treasure too!
Wow, lots to share! Going back to our title “You May Say She’s a Dreamer”.
Remember Rachel dreamed that we would see dolphins and we finally saw them? Well, the first night that we anchored in Christiansted she said that she had a dream about a crazy starfish…next day there was a big starfish under the boat, it was the only one that we saw! Then when we were having a hard time finding chaney she had a dream that we both found a big bag full…and guess what, we did! Now we’re really hoping that she has those winning numbers come to her in her sleep after all she is three for three in her predictions!
OK, enough for now…off to explore St. Martin and take more pictures.
Miss you all take care –
Jennifer, Brian and Rachel