Saturday, March 26, 2011

Christiansted, St. Croix!

Tall ship at the wharf with old Christiansted buildings in the background
After a good night's sleep, we pulled into St. Croix Marina this morning bright and early, took on some fuel and took a slip for a night or two. (Decadence after being on the hook the last month!) We cleared in with the USVI Customs folks (CBP) by phone first thing this morning, being good Local Boater Option folk…how nice that the LBO system works in the USVI as well as at home in the USA! After clearance, we took our folding Dahon bicycles and rode to town, and went along the promenade/boardwalk to explore and see a bit of the town. It's very Danish in architecture here, which is quite lovely!

Many of the shops here are tucked inside carefully restored or rebuilt stone buildings that date back to the 1800s. There are lots of National Park Service historic sites, including Fort Christiansvaern, within walking distance of the waterfront. The Fort was never used in battle, but its promenade and battlements have a great view of the harbor! The old West India and Guinea Company Warehouse, the old Danish Customs House, and the old Government House are all renovated and in service as businesses today. Love the history!

One of the old Danish structures now in use as a waterfront establishment
View of downtown from the water
We found a place to eat lunch on the waterfront boardwalk and then checked out the local dive shop….only to discover that Justin, off the ill-fated yellow trimaran from Turks & Caicos, was working in the shop! Small world!! Happily, he is doing well, as are his friends from aboard, Roz and the rest of the crew, although it sounded like quite an adventure for them to get from T&C via DR & PR to St. Croix. So, we caught up a bit in the store and he also clued us into a great laminated map of the local dive sites here. We had no idea how much good diving is around here...and there is a plethora of sites to choose from. SO….the agenda for St. Croix is diving, diving and more diving! 

After lunch we spent several hours cleaning the boat and washing off the accumulated salt from the long passage. We then treated ourselves, and hopped out in the dinghy to a very nearby dive site. Truly, I didn’t realize that the diving here was so good!! We were happy to discover that local lobster regulations allow taking lobster while on scuba, with snare or by hand. (No Haiwaian slings though, or spears of any kind.) So, away we went! At the first dive site, we found a cache of three lobster under one ledge, and after enjoying a leisurely dive amongst the gorgeous encrusting corals and barrel sponges, we returned to the same ledge and flushed out the largest. I distracted it while Ron came from behind and grabbed it, no snare necessary! Ron held it all the way back to the boat, and it struggled all the way back, too! But…we got it! 

He was a good 2-3 pounds. Yum!
We walked off the pier and had an easy dinner at the Golden Rail Bar and Grill right there at the marina. There was live music by a very talented guitarist which we enjoyed until he stopped singing and started talking....after asking the audience for requests, he then totally rejected just about every request, trashing every musician folks asked for, from the Grateful Dead (“I hate the Dead! I don’t play their crap!”) to Jimmy Buffet  – so  really, why ask all of us for requests? The boy would do better to simply play... but you have to laugh! Ah, the oddballs and independent souls one meets while cruising!! It was early to bed after a long day of diving!

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