Cruz Bay, St John's, USVI
Position: 18:19.177N 64:47.539W
Date: Monday 10th March 2014
On Monday morning we checked out of the British Virgin Islands, settled our bill in the marina (for some reason we had used a lot of water) and sailed down to
St John’s which are in waters of the USA. It was a very gentle journey with very light winds. In fact we motored most of the way. The only place to clear in on St John’s is at Cruz Bay and we arrived there early afternoon.
It was not a good place to stop. It was shallow and packed with boats all either tied to private mooring buoys or anchored much too close to each other. Our pilot book indicated an anchorage to the port side of the fairway which we tried to use. Unfortunately it was quite restricted. It was only possible to use a limited scope and it was too shallow for us. As the boat moved slightly in the wake of passing boats we could feel her keel lightly tapping on the bottom.
We decided to up anchor and move down to the small quay situated just outside the customs office. No sooner were we tied up (and hoping to have a drink before going in to the office) when a uniformed officer (with a big gun) came over to us and told us to hurry up. We dropped what we were doing, collected our papers and briskly walked in to the office. My heart sank when I saw the immigration booths, identical to those intimidating kiosks that we had been processed through so many times before when flying in to the USA.
I have often complained before in previous log entries about the appalling inefficiencies of many of the customs and immigration processes we have been exposed to in many islands in The Eastern Caribbean. The process in St John’s was exactly the opposite. We were whisked through so quickly that we almost lost layers of skin in the process. In less than 10 minutes we had been photographed, had our fingerprints taken, filled in all of the forms and we were finished with passports stamped. We were then directed to the harbour authority lady who asked for $24 for the use of the quay space. No sooner had we paid than we were told that we would have to leave NOW.
We went back to the boat, but before we could even start to release our lines a young woman from a commercial tourist catamaran, also on the same dock, came up to us and in a manner that can best be described as a hysterical scream told us that must leave now as “there were at least 50 other boats waiting to use this space”. We went, but as we left the harbour we saw no other boats waiting to use the dock.
It was ‘Welcome to the USA’ folks.
There was nowhere suitable to stay in Cruz Bay, so we motored the short distance to a the next bay, called Great Cruz Bay, where our pilot book told us that it was possible to anchor. When we arrived we found the large bay to be completely full of private mooring buoys. We eventually anchored in deep water just outside the bay to spend the night there. There was a lot of high speed ferry traffic that created some unpleasant wake, but fortunately these stopped during the evening. The bay was remarkable for the magnificent architect designed houses overlooking the water. There were many different styles ranging from ultra-modern to French chateau but somehow they didn’t seem to clash with each other.