Saturday’s itinerary involves a relaxing downwind sail from Francis Bay, St. John to Charlotte Amalie on the south coast of St. Thomas. The purpose of today’s 14 mile journey is to position Cutter Loose for the arrival of Pittsburgh friends Glen and Nancy who will arrive for a visit on Monday. Cutter Loose is at anchor in the harbor near the dinghy dock at the Havensight mega yacht marina.
Each day at daybreak, a new wave of cruise ships discreetly enters the harbor. There are no tug boats or honking of horns. Still half asleep aboard Cutter Loose, it is possible to detect a hint of engine reverberation and an occasional rumble from the cruise ship’s bow thruster and stern thruster. There is sufficient space at the dock to accommodate up to three cruise ships. On a three cruise ship day, the activity in the harbor is at fever pitch. Taxi drivers line up early to beckon the tourists for a lift to the beach or to the retail shops. A procession of excursion boats arrive dockside to collect their passengers for a harbor cruise, a leisurely sail, a dive, a snorkeling expedition or a thrill ride on a go-fast jet boat. By 4 PM, the tourists return to the dock as the ships begin their pre-departure announcements. The late afternoon entertainment on board Cutter Loose involves relaxing in the cockpit, watching the pilots delicately maneuver the gigantic cruise boats ever so slowly away from West Indian dock and into the channel. Many of the guests stand guard along the top deck and outside their staterooms, waving goodbye as they depart. The cycle of arrivals and departures repeats each day during our stay in Charlotte Amalie.
This port is an excellent venue for cruising sailors to meet and discharge guests while attending to laundry and shopping for provisions. The dinghy dock is filled to overflowing with inflatables, runabouts from the larger charter boats and small fishing boats. Nearby is Gourmet Gallery which offers the best fruits and vegetables that we have seen since arriving in the Virgin Islands. Within a 5 minute walk from the dock is The Washboard, the local Laundromat. Pat befriends the proprietor who insists on taking responsibility for expertly folding our freshly washed sheets to perfection.
Glen and Nancy join us late in the day on Monday for a visit to Cutter Loose. They arrive laden with spare boat parts, a fresh supply of loose tea from Prestogeorge for Pat and a thorough update of news from Pittsburgh. During their short stay, we manage a whirlwind tour of some of our favorite places in the USVI and BVI, including a swim and some beach time at Sandy Cay and a stop at Jost Van Dyke to clear BVI Customs. Pat and Nancy take this opportunity to mix it up with Foxy, the legendary founder and owner of the beach bar at Great Harbor, site of the infamous New Year’s Eve celebration. Then it is on to North Sound at Virgin Gorda to enjoy the delights of the Bitter End Yacht Club and Saba Rock. From North Sound, it is a five hour downwind sail to Francis Bay, St. John, where the waning hours of the afternoon are spent swimming and enjoying the scenery at sunset before retiring to the salon for dinner followed by a spirited and competitive game of Rummy Kub. On Friday, it is time to deliver our guests back to Charlotte Amalie in time for the departure of the silver bird to the U.S. We have thoroughly enjoyed our time together with Glen and Nancy, and we wish them safe travel to Hawaii and Spain later this winter and spring.
Cutter Loose remains anchored in the harbor at Charlotte Amalie on Friday night in order to accomplish laundry and provisioning on Saturday morning. Then it is back to Francis Bay for the remainder of the weekend. From here, we are within proximity to Red Hook for yet another visit with Neal on Monday morning. The recently rebuilt wind instrument has been working intermittently for the past few days. It is best to rectify this problem before leaving USVI and BVI, and our remaining time here is short before pressing on to St. Martin. In the meantime, we enjoy a relaxing weekend of boat chores, reading, swimming and walks on the beaches that surround Francis Bay.