Francis Bay,St John,USVI
Wednesday 27th April 2011
Distance run: 17 nmiles
Easter Monday was a quiet day. We took a run ashore to have a look around Cane Garden Bay and to see if we might find a dive shop to buy me some fins for snorkelling. We were very surprised to find that not only was there a shop (well a shack really) but it was open and I bought a very snug pair of fins in dayglo yellow.
After lunch we left the bay and sailed back to Great Harbour on Jost Van Dyke as it is a port of entry for the BVI’s and we would be able to check out there the following morning. We had a lovely sail with 12 knots of wind over the quarter, dropped the anchor and had a quiet evening on board. I tried out my new fins and was amazed at how far you can travel with just a kick or two. I definitely should have persevered with these before now!
On Tuesday morning Steve went ashore to check out at the Police Station. No, he hadn't done anything wrong-that's where you have to clear Customs and Immigration on this small island. We had a good sail to Cruz Bay in St John where we dropped the anchor and went ashore to make first use of our US Visas by checking into the US Virgin Islands. This was surprisingly easy (and free!) and we were soon back on the boat heading for Francis Bay on the North coast, which we had been told was good for snorkelling. We planned to spend a couple of hours there before making for Leinster Bay a bit further along the coast.
On arrival, we picked up a buoy and were soon settled. Much of St John is designated a National Park and anchoring is prohibited in many bays for boats of our size unless there are no mooring buoys available. In Francis Bay there were loads of buoys, at a cost of $15 per night, which has to be placed in an honesty box which is on a floating pontoon in the middleof the bay. Nimue arrived a few minutes before us, and by the time we were moored they had seen and spoken to Rick and Lucy on Flying Cloud who had invited us all for drinks later. Quick change of plan- we would stay in this bay tonight!
Michael & Anne collected us in their rib and we tied it to one of the buoys marking the swimming area from the shore. Then we all went snorkelling. There were a couple of turtles, rays and a myriad of colourful fish, but not a lot in the way of intersting coral. However, as we were swimming, we heard a 'whoop whoop' noise and looked up to see a Park Warden's rib with flashing blue lights (just like a police car!) He told us off for parking the rib on the buoy, said we had to remove it but were not to bring it inside the buoys because it has a propellor. Michael swam over and untied it and after some discussion with the warden we all piled back in and went back to the boats. Later, Rick & Lucy said they had beenin this bay lots of times and had never even seen a warden before.
That evening we joined Rick & Lucy and their guests Arlene and Larry on board Flying Cloud for drinks. It turned out that Arlene had cruised for nine years in the Bahamas and she had lots of useful information, and Rick was very helpful with advice on cruising the East Coast and ICW.
Today we had planned to head round to Leinster Bay, but the weather changed overnight and it is now windy and squally, with the wind coming from the direction we would have to go. Apparently the bay there is less sheltered than this one, so we will stay here today and rethink.