This photo-filled blog shares some of our adventures since our last update two months ago. Our 60-day resume of fun included four individual day charters, four term charters totaling 20 nights, seven phenomenal hiking days, three hull cleanings, several hours of remote nuclear work and countless boat projects for Nate, and 15 bartending shifts for Sarah. We also spent many entertaining days with cruiser friends and even made a few new friends!
If you recall, when we arrived (broken) in Jamaica, we met a trio of cruising men and shared drinks and stories on their last night in port (our first night). Nate kept in touch over the months and we spent a few raucous days on St. John in their company, swapping more sea stories and attempting to drink the island dry. We very much enjoyed the reunion and it reminded us how small and fun this community can be! We met wonderful new cruising friends, Brent and Jess (Seektoseemore – Instagram), and spent many hours crashing the Westin pool and hitting happy hours in their company. We made some new friends via a day charter and we continue to enjoy time with Jay (Willow flew home for an extended period) as he lives and works “next door” in the bay.
On our charters, we’ve frequented the British Virgin Islands almost every trip, visiting and revisiting our favorite places. Our top five favorite spots are The Baths, The Indians (for snorkeling), Cooper Island Beach Club, evenings and mornings in White Bay (once the Soggy Dollar crowds dissipate), and Nate particularly enjoys Foxy’s entertaining speeches/songs. We’ve taken countless photos and here are as many of them as I can upload successfully for your enjoyment. No apologies from me for all the photos of rocks… that’s only half of what I have! Rocks are awesome.
We filled our non-working days with determination to explore every bit of St. John. Our favorite hike (and my favorite day on island in four months) was Reef Bay Trail. We borrowed the work truck to drive the five miles up Centerline Road to the trailhead atop a beautiful “gut” (as they call valleys on island). We donned our gear and began the breathtaking descent down the forested valley towards the ocean. A few miles in, we jaunted off to the right to visit spirit-filled site of the petroglyphs carved by the pre-Columbian Taino and their ancestors around 900-1500AD. The place had a presence like no other and we are so grateful we were able to visit the site while the petroglyphs are still visible. Weathering has taken a major toll on their detail and we suspect in a few decades, they will no longer be discernable. We rejoined the main trail and continued towards the beach. We enjoyed another two short spurs to visit the ruins of the Par Force plantation and the former Reef Bay Great House. Our trail ended at the Reef Bay Sugar Mill – an incredible site to see, the ruins from the early 1900s represented a site where the “sugar industry died twice.” First, in 1861 when the Danish abolished slavery, the mill became inoperable due to lack of manpower and secondly, in the early 1900s after the new owners attempt to revive the industry by installing steam power to crush the cane. The Reef Bay Sugar Mill was the last operating sugar mill on the island. Due to its location, accessible only by boat or hiking, the ruins remain impressive to the occasional visitor. We ascended back up the valley, full of awe and wonder, and added extra moments of appreciation for the island’s beauty when we stopped to catch our breath and turned to back to see the sea and mountains of progress below us.
In addition to the Reef Bay Trail, we tackled Ram Head Trail via Salt Pond Trail, catching the trade winds and gorgeous views of the Caribbean Sea. We’d sailed past the point several times and were pleased to enjoy the outlook from the higher vantage point.
After a busy week of celebrations on the island (St. John Emancipation Day and American Independence Day) enjoying the sunrise “parade” of Jouvert and later the formal Carnival parade, we had a short charter which introduced us to a new area on the island.
As soon as we dropped our guests off, we decided we’d sail the Lady back to Waterlemon Bay on the north side of the island to really discover the area. Our day was filled with exploration of the Leinster Bay Trail, which led us around the bay along the rocky shore to the iconic Annaberg Sugar Mill ruins. We continued on to discover the Annaberg School ruins before doubling back on the trail towards our starting point. Once we returned to the beach, we mustered the energy to climb the steep Johnny Horn Trail to discover breathtaking views of Lady Sun Dream in the bay from the ruins of the old Danish guard house. According to See St. John, “this small fortification was built on this strategic location, called Leinster Point, because it overlooked two critical passages, the Fungi Passage, between Whistling Cay and Mary Point, and the Narrows, which separate Great Thatch and St. John. The guardhouse was equipped with cannons and manned by 16 soldiers.” The guard house was soon dwarfed by the impressive Murphy Great House another sweaty, sunny 10 minutes up the trail. The view felt like a postcard.
We returned to the boat for a quick dip and some lunch, then sailed back around the point to spend the afternoon and evening in Francis Bay (a location we take almost all charter guests, but never truly get to enjoy ourselves). We endeavored the short loop of the Francis Bay Trail with tired feet and then awarded ourselves with a cold drink at Maho’s Paddle in Tiki Bar. We settled in for the night with a long game of Monopoly and a good night’s sleep.
The following morning, after Nate changed the engine belt, then battled with said belt when it decided to melt and scare us in to believing the alternator had died, we cautiously puttered over to Cinnamon Bay to continue our hiking adventures. We visited the sugar mill ruins and greatly enjoyed the sounds, scents, and sights along the forested loop through the old plantation grounds. We popped up to the Rustenberg Estate ruins to top of our two days of ruin-hunting and trail-hopping.
Smattered throughout the formal hikes, we’ve utilized the roads to take four long walks near our mooring to find new views, drool over all the villas and mansions, and see the many bays around us from hilltop perspective.
Our almost four months on St. John are unrivaled and we are so grateful for our experiences here. With heavy hearts, we will complete our final term charter this week and then we will bid each other farewell. Nate will deliver the work boat to Grenada on August 1st and then plans to continue his travels aboard Lady Sun Dream, possibly staying on St. John another season. I will return to the States to resume my career. We love each other dearly, but recognize it is time to pursue our different dreams. Our memories will last a lifetime and we will never regret our shared once-in-a-lifetime experiences. I hope you all continue to follow Nate as he gets back on track to circumnavigate the world (and encourage him to keep you up to date with his adventures along his journey). I thank you all for your support of our past nine months on Lady Sun Dream – with 241 days at sea in the books and forever in my heart.