Blog Schedule

I post on Monday with an occasional random blog thrown in for good measure. I do my best to answer all comments via email and visit around on the days I post.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Tales of Brave Ulysses - Circumnavigation

The north side of St. John, which faces the Atlantic, is cozy and feels protected because it is ringed round with cays and the larger islands St. Thomas and the British Virgin Islands. The north side is greener, lusher and the hills rise from numerous inviting powdery white sand beaches.

Cruz Bay, St. John. St Thomas to the far right, Little and Great St. James center and Steven's Cay towards the front.
Hawksnest Bay, St. John. St. Thomas in distance.
Maho Bay, St. John. Whistling Cay to the far left and behind it, Jost Van Dyke, BVI.
From Annaberg, looking across Sir Francis Drake Channel towards Totola and the British Virgin Islands.
The south side of the island is a completely different story. Here you are faced with the wide open expanse of the Caribbean Sea. Here there are no cays and the nearest island is St. Croix, 40 miles away. Though the water tends to be warmer because the Caribbean is shallower than the Atlantic, it can be rougher. Because the south side is so exposed to the Tradewinds it is very desert-like. Giant century plants, thorny acacia trees, tall organ cactus, and many other cacti as well, cling to the rocky hill sides. And, except for a few beaches, the coast line is rocky, protected by snarly reefs.

Now the F. D. O. was small, only 12 feel long and yet we made several heroic journeys within her fiberglass hull.
Twice we went completely around St. John, a distance of 40 or 45 miles. We were very familiar with the cozy north shore. Many were the times we had trolled around the cays of Lovango, Congo, Mingo, Grass, Thatch, Little and Great St. James, to name a few. These water were home. There are places to land, beaches to explore. And there is water traffic. Boats of every sort cruise the north side of St. John. Ferries cross hourly between St. John and St. Thomas, there are speed boats and sail boats and fisherman. You have the feeling that if something were to happen help isn't be too far away.

But once we rounded East End and passed Flanagan Island, we were alone on a vast sea. We were like solitary explorers, cast-aways searching for a place to land.
We were Jason and the Argonauts. We were Ulysses and his valiant crew. When at last we passed by Chocolate Hole and Great Cruz Bay, saw the islands of Little and Great St. James and Steven's Cay, we knew we were safely home again. We had survived an epic.
The south side of St. John. The white cliffs of Reef Bay and in the distance Ram's Head Point.

Lamashur is one of the few beaches on the south side, and one of my favorites. There is a lonely and wild feel about the place.
We circumnavigated St. Thomas in the F. D. O too. A long journey, of 50 to 55 miles. Surely we were crew on Magellan's ship.


  1. Gorgeous pics! The Virgin Islands (and the Caribbean in general) is so beautiful. I visited there when I was 17, 19, and about 7 years ago.
    Bish, I know you lived there...when did you move to the mainland and do you go back often to visit?

  2. Beautiful pictures. Of course I started daydreaming when I read "powdery white sand beaches..."

  3. Isn't it amazing how "safe" we actually felt in that wonderful little boat? There is also a VERY DEEP stretch of water between St. Thomas and ST. Croix - not as deep as the Puerto Rico Trench, but it's no "little puddle" out there!

  4. Kelly, I moved to the states in 1980. I go back every year for a month or two to visit my family and play in the sea.

    It's easy to day dream on/or about powdery white sand beaches, Adrienne.

    Anne, I don't live there any more, but I visit every year.

    And Erva, was it the boat, or was it Dad who made us feel safe? And Mom too. Because they did not seem afraid, we were not afraid.

  5. Beautiful views. The subject is timely in a way because I'm helping my son with his essay on Open Water Survival.

    Thanks for posting on my Rectangle post BTW--it accidentally got put up too early and I hadn't noticed it until I saw you question, lol!

  6. Ahhh ... bliss ... you've had an amazing childhood. I love all the stories and these pictures are so lovely.


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