Christiansted, St Croix
Sat, Sun & Mon – 1st, 2nd & 3rd March
Before we arrived in St Croix we were told that visiting Buck Island for the snorkelling was a must-do event and were also advised that getting the necessary permit can take at least 5 days. So, following research, Sarah thought she was being incredibly smart by contacting the US National Parks Service in Christiansted and asking if she could apply via scanned emailed documents although they do not provide this facility on their website. She received a positive answer....then she received another one from someone else - definitely a case of right hand and left hand not knowing etc. Then we were requested to forward our customs clearance but that is purely a stamp (in a rather crowded passport), no paperwork is provided. We fulfilled these stipulations but nothing was heard.
So on arrival at Christiansted we hot-footed it to the Parks office, discovering that the woman who normally deals with it all was having family problems, so we were handed over to another officer. It transpires that despite extensive and specific instructions on the website, much of the required overnight paperwork still has to be instigated! So we handed over the original documents and they processed it and assured us that we would hear by email very shortly . That was Friday. By Monday afternoon failing to enjoy the delights of a change in swell direction in the anchorage, we were keen to go elsewhere! So we went back to the office where eventually we are sort of granted permission: there is no paperwork, and it will “probably be OK to stay overnight” as they have us on their system. It doesn’t inspire you with great confidence in the organisation, but what the hell, it is Buck island we are here to see!
We enjoyed a lovely wander around the town early on Saturday morning to complete Rob’s daily photo requirements for project365. In fact we were informed that the “merchants don’t open up till about 10.30-11.00am depending on what is happening on the island”! So it was very quiet around the streets. We visited the few stalls open at the market and bought some really expensive but locally grown produce and had a great coffee and cake at the Twin Town Coffee shop. (Highly recommend this.)
After that we spent the rest of the day and Sunday doing various boat jobs: finally tracking down the nasty niff in the bilges to some strangely leaking soft drinks cans - they hadn’t burst but just oozed out. Sarah went up the mast (as all the trip boats zoomed past with their cruise ship clients, which made it more than a little bouncy) to discover that the swage on the staysail halyard had failed, firing itself into the mast fitting but she managed to wrench it out, so that will hopefully be replaced when we return to the BVIs next week. Rob did some engine maintenance. All the usual fun stuff of the liveaboard life!
Our return trip into town on Monday also took in more photography - this town is just a delight - and Sarah attempted to settle down to some serious sketching of the town’s resident chickens and roosters. They knew better and all hid in a very thick hedge in a car park, so sketching was done on the hoof whilst chasing fowl into the open, then every so often one of them would get nosey and just pose at her feet.
Some new photos posted at http://www.rhbell.com/photographs-2014.html