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  #11  
Old 06-01-2011
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Having sailed with Billy Ruff'n in the USVI a few weeks back, I can vouch for what he says. The snorkling at Chrismas cove is excellent, and St. John's is laid back and spectacular.

There's a lobster under a big rock at this exact location, IIRC, 10 feet NNW of the most northern rock sticking out of the water, in 6 feet of water. It needed to grow a bit more. Maybe by the time you get there he'll be ready for you.

Regards,
Brad
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  #12  
Old 06-01-2011
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St John is nice

If you aren't looking to sail 30 40 miles there are some great beaches on St John. Maho Bay and Francis Bay have some of the best beaches I have ever seen. For a dinner treat there is a funky cafateria at the camp grounds above Maho. They offer great food at a very reasonable price and the view is terrific. 218 steps to climb from the beach to the campground.

The Rhone is a good dive site, also The Indians at Norman Island
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  #13  
Old 06-01-2011
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When in Jost Van Dyke the Bubbly Pool is a must for 16 year olds and 60 year olds !!!
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  #14  
Old 06-01-2011
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We did a charter a few months ago from Red Hook, St Thomas, to the Spanish Virgins. Despite what your guide might say, the eastern end of Vieques is off limits for anchoring, so one of your better options on Vieques is Sun Bay, which is between Mosquito Bay and Esperanza. Ensenada Honda in Culebra is a good anchorage with facilities ashore, like grocery stores and restaurants. You can anchor close to the lift bridge and be close to 'downtown" Dewey. Among the numerous small restaurants are Mamacitas and Susies are on the canal and the Dinghy Dock, which may be the only place you can get water (via jug) if your guests are taking long showers. Culebrita is a must see. The moorings in the Spanish Virgins are free, by the way.

The reefs east of Culebra probably have more than one boat's bottom paint, so you might consider a handheld chartplotter. We bought a Garmin Oregon 450 and the Eastern Caribbean chart chip and it was right on. This is a pricey setup, but we rationalized it as a backup for our own chartplotter back home. The navigation in most of the Virgin Islands is straightforward, but it's always nice to know where you are and what you are looking at when you are new to an area.

As you head East, you are going "uphill" against the prevailing winds and will likely be motoring, given your time constraints. Druif Bay, also known as Honeymoon Bay, is a nice anchorage, if you need to stop. Christmas Cove was overrun with boats in March, so we continued on to Caneel Bay, St. John, to find an available mooring.

There are many mooring fields along the north shore of St. John, as mentioned in an earlier post. One of our favorites on the north side is Leinster Bay, with snorkeling at Waterlemon Cay and the Annenberg sugar mill ruins a short hike away. There are several trails, one of which leads to a great view of Tortola and the Drake Channel, as well as Leinster Bay.

Alternatively, you might head to the SW side of St. John and pick up a mooring at either of the Lameshur Bays, or--better yet--Salt Pond Bay, which has a nice beach and some hiking trails. The hike to Ram Head is worth it. Snorkeling is good at any of these bays.

If you move past St. John, you may want to skip the beach bar scene with the 16 yr olds and go directly to Virgin Gorda for the Baths, which is a must see, if you can handle the upwind slog. We prefer to take a slip in the yacht harbor, which has a small mall with a decent (for the islands) grocery store. You'll need to check into the BVI at the customs & immigration building just to the north of the yacht basin. You can get water in the marina, which you will surely need. You can hike to the Baths or take a taxi, but bring your bathing suits. Alternatively, you can get an early start and pick up a day mooring at the Baths. You will have to swim in at some point, as dinghies are not allowed on the beach. You and your guests will love this place. Bring a camera, perhaps in a waterproof pouch. You might also check out SCUBA options while you are in the yacht harbor and decide if staying another day for this event is worth the time.

On your way back to Puerto Rico, you could do a snorkeling stop over the Rhone, which has day moorings nearby. Your next snorkeling stop might be the Indians or you might pick up a day mooring at the Caves at Norman Island, which is another must see. You might then proceed to a mooring in Caneel Bay and dinghy in to Cruz Bay to check back into the US. Everyone aboard has to show up for this event (whereas only the skipper shows up in the BVI). There are shops and restaurants and an interesting street scene in Cruz Bay.

From Caneel Bay, you can easily make it back to Culebrita or Culebra. At Culebra you can pick up a free mooring on the west side or anchor in the harbor. Except for the harbor (Ensenada Honda), you will find good snorkeling just about anywhere. Your last stop might be either at Culebra or the western half of Vieques, depending on what you did on the way out and then its back to Fajardo.
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  #15  
Old 06-01-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TQA View Post
If you visit St Johns beware of the restrictions on anchoring in the national Parks areas. Note the contradictions!



Max of 14 overnights a year in the park I believe.

I felt that I was being harrasssed in the USVI on more than one occaision. Benner Bay Christmas Bay and St Johns in each case I was anchored in a reasonable spot well clear of any channel and was told to move immediately [within 10 minutes]
Who was telling you to move? Are you sure you were not in a restricted anchoring area? Where there any boats near you that were anchored? Where they told to move too?
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  #16  
Old 06-02-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FarCry View Post
Who was telling you to move? Are you sure you were not in a restricted anchoring area? Where there any boats near you that were anchored? Where they told to move too?
Not in uniform and no ID on show in two cases. [ Same 'gentleman' ] He insisted I move immediately in both cases. The first time he had me move out of Benner Bay late afternoon with a very bad forecast for the night. We spent a very uncomfortable night with 40 knot squalls in Christmas Cove. When the front came through. The second time was in Charlotte Amalie when he said I was interfering with ferry traffic. There were other boats around me but I was on board so got the benefit of his ire. Possibly justified but there was an adequate channel and the ferries were managing just fine. Nothing shown on the chart in the way of restricted anchoring areas.

The time in St Johns it was a Parks boat and a uniformed ranger. I was at anchor in Coral Harbour and had been in St Johns for 4 days. Initially he insisted that I leave St Johns immediately as he said I had overstayed. It is possible that there might be some reg I was unaware of and the previous owner hadregistered the boat in St Croix but kept the boat in Chocolate hole on a mooring. I discussed this with the ranger and I suspect I might have been delving into an area outside his expertise. Eventually he relented and I stayed on. I did have my bill of sale and St Johns mooring permit which I showed him. He did ask that I visit park headquarters to 'regularise my position'.

In all cases they did not say where I should go to just that I should leave my current anchorage.

The Charlotte Amalie incident was galling because I was anchored in a good spot close to the Crown Marina and getting free wifi when a very polite harbour officer asked me and other boats at anchor to move as there was to be a fireworks display from a barge and we were in the danger zone. I moved but many did not. The next day Mr Stroppy arrived and moved me again! All this before I fitted my best friend Mr Lofrans Tigres.
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  #17  
Old 06-04-2011
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Thanks for all the feedback; that's great. I think that a combination of beach, snorkeling, big city, and inexpensive restaurants might be the ticket. So far, St John seems like the closest match especially given the short time frame. Wonder if we should throw Charlotte Amalie into the mix to add the 'big city'? If so, we could clear in there first and then head over to St John. Which anchorages in St John provide the best mix of good snorkeling, beaches, and inexpensive restaurants? We might have time for 2 or 3 anchorages especially if they were close together. I'm worried about the park regulations and what restrictions they might impose that would prohibit overnight stays.
Pete
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  #18  
Old 06-04-2011
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We chartered from St. Thomas and went over to the Spanish Virgins earlier this year and were told that it is no longer necessary to check in. The Spanish Virgins (which includes Vieques and Culebra) are part of Puerto Rico. Both Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands are US territories: one wonders why there ever was a check in procedure in the past. If you go to the BVI, you have to check in to the BVI and check back in to the US (typically Cruz Bay) on your return.

To summarize: If you are coming from Puerto Rico to the USVI, there is no check in procedure in either direction, based on what we were told by the charter base in St. Thomas this year.

Your inexpensive restaurant options are limited on St. John. There's the campground at Maho Bay and there's the street vendors in Cruz Bay. You can also look at the menus outside the restaurants in Cruz Bay and pick something within your budget. Coral Bay is not worth the detour if you want snorkeling and beaches within your time limits.

You might want to avoid Charlotte Amalie proper, but you apparently can anchor (not moor) to the north of the gigantic cruise ship pier at Havensight. Kings Wharf is supposed to have a dinghy dock, if you want access to the historic downtown area. Another option that is much quieter is anchoring in Druif Bay (also known as Honeymoon Bay) on Water Island. You might take your dinghy into Crown Bay Marina, where you can get pizza for under $20 at Tickles Dockside Pub. You might check to see if it really is dinghy-accessible first, though. You are removed from the downtown Charlotte Amalie scene, but you might take a taxi from Crown Bay. Druif Bay has a beach with what looked like a snack bar and would be a good jumping off point for your return to the Spanish Virgins.


My last point is to let you know that you've been given the wrong impression about overnight stays at St. John. Most of St. John is within the Virgin Islands National Park, within which you will find many moorings available for $15/night. You are not allowed to anchor along the south side of St. John, but you can anchor on the north side (only if you are over sand). That said, there is no reason to anchor unless you are pinching pennies.

Last time I checked, the overnight moorings list includes: 44 in Saloman/Caneel Bays, 13 in Hawksnest Bay, 4 in Trunk Bay, 8 in Cinnamon Bay, 28 in Maho Bay, 29 in Francis Bay, and 20 in Leinster/Waterlemon Bay--all on the north side of St. John. On the south side are: 5 moorings in Little Lameshur Bay, 14 in Great Lameshur Bay and 8 in Salt Pond Bay. You can use these free during the day, but you are expected to pay by 5 PM if you are staying for the night. They are $15/night,unless you have a senior pass that lets you have them for half price. You pay at a floating dock that shows a green flag or you find a box on shore. In many of the bays there are folks who come by in a dinghy (showing the flag) to remind you. They do not collect money but write down your boat name and date. Apparently the Park Service will follow through on deadbeats and will bill your charter company if you don't pay.

The best beaches on St. John are on the north side and you will probably find decent snorkeling at any of them. My favorite is Leinster Bay on the north side and Salt Pond Bay on the south side. I didn't like Hawksnest Bay because of the surge. If you want an affordable restaurant on St John, your options are limited to Salomon/Caneel Bays (dinghy in to Cruz Bay) or avail yourself of the cafeteria at the Maho Bay campground.

The only thing that would prevent an overnight stay is a "full house" on the National Park moorings--and that is only on the south side. Over a period of many years, we've only encountered a "full house" once--in Salt Pond Bay. All we had to do was to move over to the Lameshur Bays where more than half the moorings were empty.

Bottom line: Overnight stays on St. John are encouraged--not prohibited--as long as you observe the no-anchor rule on the south side. Suggest you use the moorings and get a good night's rest.
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  #19  
Old 06-05-2011
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[QUOTE=fallard;737310]$15/night. You are not allowed to anchor along the south side of St. John, but you can anchor on the north side (only if you are over sand). That said, there is no reason to anchor unless you are pinching pennies.]

I am not sure about anchoring being OK on the North side.

I understand that there is a small 'anchor box' off the main harbour intended for yachts clearing in and out.

Elsewhere I thought you must use the moorings unless all are taken OR you are oversize. 60ft+??

Just to complicate things I think that the moorings are free for day use but a fee is required for overnight use.

Perhaps a St Johns regular can give us the skinny.
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  #20  
Old 06-05-2011
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St. John anchoring rules

TQA is correct: you are allowed to anchor only if all the moorings are taken in a bay--but per NPS rules, there is no anchoring on the south side. See the official story at http://www.nps.gov/viis/planyourvisi...oringGuide.pdf.

My previous post was based on the brochure that is provided at the URL above.

Bottom line: Don't plan on anchoring in St. John--at least within the Park boundaries, which is where you want to be.
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