One of the good things about cruisers and cruising is that sometimes you get to stay somewhere for a while and make new friends. After a few weeks onboard at Isleta, one of Michael and Margaritas friends, Eva realized that we are sailing instructors and seasoned cruisers, and she approached us about a journey.
Eva is a Linguistics professor at the University of Puerto Rico. She does a presentation every year to a group in the Caribbean about the effects of sailing on Caribbean history. This year her presentation titled Indigenous Caribbean Sailing in Pre- Colombian Times and was in St Croix, at the University of the Virgin Islands, 70 miles away.
Since her presentation was about sailing, she thought it would be a good opportunity to sail there. She asked us to join her on her Beneteau 37, and what else did we have to do, anyways? .
Luckily enough, we had a favorable weather window to get there and back although there was a potential for a large storm surge to push thru ahead of a Tropical Wave. We mutually decided that if we felt it was not comfortable after rounding the east end of Culebra, we would turn back, no harm done. She could always fly from Culebra if she had to.
A beautiful first few hours sail got us into the south side of Culebra at 1900, just before sunset which was excellent timing.
Our departure was set for 0430 the following morning for the remaining 60nm to Green Turtle Cay Marina on St Croix’s north side.
An early morning coffee with a predawn departure and favorable winds was the plan for the day. The swell was definitely there, but it was bearable in Andiarego, the Beneteau 37 on his first open ocean adventure. Yes Andariego is a BOY boat .
We arrived safely just before sunset! And went for a celebratory dinner at the marina restaurant since we arrived with no fish…. but we had fabulous company all day!!
Eva had to be at the university all the remaining day, and Darren and I set out to discover the beauty of Christinastaad.
St Croix, or what Christopher Columbus referred to as St Cruz after discovering it in 1493, was inhabited by various indigenous groups during its prehistory. Dutch and English settlers landed Saint Croix in 1625, joined by some French refugees from St. Kitts. For nearly 200 years, Saint Croix, St. Thomas and St. John were known as the Danish West Indies. By the mid to late 18th century, “at the peak of the plantation economy, the enslaved population of Saint Croix numbered between 18,000 and 20,000, while the white population ranging between 1,500 and 2,000
Invasions wars and governments have had a huge impact on the island, that is now owned by the United States. It still has a large Dutch population and influence.
It’s a beautiful well kept island with lovely colonial building, arched walkways and stone pillars.
Because Eva didn’t have any free time, she sent us on a mission to buy her some Rum, and we willingly obliged. After all, we can’t disappoint our friends, can we?
One of our favorite distilleries was the Mutiny Vodka showroom. Its on the waterfront in an old water tower, very colonial and beautiful. They actually make Vodka out of breadfruit, not potatoes, which was quite original. It was very nice, very smooth tasting, unlike other Vodkas. We enjoyed that stop very much.
By end of the day, we had mission accomplished. With 7 bottles of rum and one vodka to share between us.
With a tropical wave that had formed in the distance, we decided to head back to Puerto Rico the next day again with a stop in Culebra for a nice swim and relax a bit closer to home. It was a quick trip to St Croix and back, but an excellent journey.
We managed a fantastic sail, rotating at the helm for the 10 hours it took us to get back to Culebra, mostly downwind.
The wind piped up a few times, and since Evas boat is not set up to reef (shorten) the mainsail, we had to put it down and sail only with the jib alone for a time. ….Until the wind blew out the stitching on the jib and we had to furl that in as well. Good thing for an engine. Eventually, the wind calmed down a bit, from 30 knots to 15, we took the sails out again, fixed the jib as best we could and got him back to Culebra..
One of the best things about sailing with Eva, is the Mimosas you get every trip! They were most excellent.
We had a lovely, albeit short visit to this lovely island, and we suggest that if you get the time to visit there, it would be a lovely place to visit and check out the rich history and culture of this enchanting island.