Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Spanish & US Virgins April 2006

Spanish & US Virgins April 2006
Originally uploaded by S/V Raft.
Picture: Mocko Jumbies, Carnival Charlotte Amalie St. Thomas USVI

We are now in a holding pattern, waiting for guests. For cruisers, guests are wonderful and we are looking forward to their arrival, but setting a schedule is very difficult for cruisers. We had encouraged Bev's sister and brother in law to come for a visit, and they set the time, May 6th - 20th and as per our rules we set the place. We had had this discussion with them when we were home in March and RAFT was in Luperon. So we told them to fly to San Juan Puerto Rico, as we knew there were affordable flights and counted on this giving us lots of options. If we were anywhere in Puerto Rico, they could get a bus or we could rent a car. We also knew that there was a ferry between Fajardo and Culebra, if we got that far.

If you have been reading our log reports, you realize since we left Luperon, we have been on a fast pace, just because the weather windows were available and longer than we expected. So by April 20th, we are in Culebra with some time to spend, before our company arrives.

We really didn't have any boat projects, not counting brightwork and stainless, but who wants to do that! so we are going to spend the next three weeks enjoying the slow pace. While we are in Dewey, we investigated ferry and air transportation back to Puerto Rico. The ferry from Culebra to Fajardo makes three round trips each day, and at $4.50 return it is a deal. We took the 630 am trip, arrived in Fajardo, walked to the Golden Bagel for breakfast, met another boater who agreed to share his cab and take us to Walmart and West Marine. We shopped and walked, it is a long walk, but we stopped along the way and found the Amigo grocery store, pulling our bundle buggy full of wine, fruits and vegetables, and returned to the ferry terminal in time to take the 3pm ferry back to Culebra.

Another day we walked, another long hike, out to Flamingo Beach. It is a lovely north beach, usually too rough to bring the big boats to, and there a two rusting American tanks, left on the the beach. This is where most of the weekend PR tourists end up, enjoying the beach, picnicking and camping. Local buses and taxis regularly run out to the beach, so you don't have to walk.

We moved RAFT out of the town anchorage to check out the one at Dakity. It was really interesting, the only protection offered is the reef, but it does a great job of shielding the boats from the waves and swells, but allows the winds to keep everything cool. There are complementary mooring balls there and a neat group of cruisers.

After seeing and doing everything there is to do in Dewey, we decided to head off to St. Thomas. We anchored in the main Charlotte Amalie with 3 huge cruiseboats and about 50 other pleasure boats. We were pleased to find out that we had arrived just in time for Carnival. Having seen Junkanoo in the Bahamas, two Carnivals in the Domincan Republic, we were very happy to see another.

Friday was the Junior Parade, for the school kids. This parade was dominated by majorettes, steel bands, live rock music and regal prince and princesses dressed in beautiful gowns riding in open covertables. The kids were very enthusiastic and the quality of the music, excellent. Saturday was the adult parade. Here the very colourful ornate costumed dancers replaced the baton twirlers. There still were steel bands and live music plus Mocko Jumbies. Mocko Jumbies are parade participants walking, dancing and fooling around on stilts. They can be up to 10 feet tall. The history of the mocko jumbie is African in origin, and their purpose is to scare away the evil spirits. This method of removing evil spirits hurt much less than the wacking we experienced in the DR. Every evening the partying continued downtown, with music serenading, quite loudly, the downtown anchorage until 1am each night. We enjoyed the music but it did interrupt our early usual bedtime.

We decided to head off to Christmas Cove, a favourite anchorage at the east end of St. Thomas, so we could get a quiet night's sleep. This is a lovely anchorage with good snorkeling, especially at the south end of the island. Then we continued on east, to check out St. John. Most of St. John is a National Park, and has many rules, as to where you can anchor (very few places) but they do have mooring balls for $15. There are a lot of hiking trails, taking us to the ruins of an old Sugar Mill and School, which dated back to the slave era. Snorkeling was disappointing, as there was a persistent swell and visibility was reduced. Hopefully when we return with Kathyrn and Ron, conditions will be better.

Now having done all our research, we are not returning to Culebra so that we can take the ferry to Fajardo to meet our guests.