Saturday, 28 April 2012

More of the good stuff

Caneel Bay is home to an awfully gorgeous resort, set amidst the ruins of an old plantation. The main building is low lying, colonial style, surrounded by lush vegetation and tropical flowers. Inconspicuous cabanas, tucked into dense foliage, spread across the hills of the estate, each with a view of the bay. The long stretch of the beach is backed by rolling hills threaded together by a handful of narrow roads that wind about the island. We spent a few leisurely days in Caneel, taking time to explore the neighboring town, too. While there we picked up a hiking trail guide and some informational pamphlets. I'm telling you, we were having a hard time sticking to our preconceptions as we learned more about St.John.
After Caneel Bay we moved a whopping mile north to Hawksnest Bay to find another charming mooring with more stunning beaches. Later that day we were joined by Blue Kai, who had caught up to us after a 3 day detour to visit St.Thomas and together we set out on a short hike that led us to old sugar mill ruins. Rye and Hanna, the youngest crew from Blue Kai spent their time climbing rocks and snapping photos of everything in site while the adults discussed the finer points of cruising. Gabe and I hovered somewhere in between. We usually do. We have become very fond of the kids and we tend to get drawn out of the adult world and into theirs when we're all together. Since reuniting with all three boats in St.John, we have spent most of our time as a group, exploring the island by day and sharing pot luck dinners at night. Gabe's birthday was no exception. We joint forces for a BBQ on the beach to celebrate. Hawksnest Beach has common grilling areas with picnic tables, hidden among the trees. We took over one of those and caroused till dark, at which point we moved the festivities aboard Blue Kai for shots of Yagermaister and cake. Some sang and some danced until the children fell tired into the laps of their parents. The rest of us quickly took cue and retired to our own boats. 
Following morning we were on the move again, this time to Francis Bay at the north end of St. John. We loved Hawksnest because of its setting, but the mooring field was shielded from wind yet exposed to ocean swell, which meant pretty rolly nights. Without sufficient wind to push the boat away from the mooring ball, it was at liberty to smack into our haul as the rolling sea drove us into it. The hollow thuds were pretty hard to ignore the first night it happened. When it became obvious that we wouldn't be able to dodge the ball the next night, Gabe brought it out of the water and onto our deck. It worked, the banging stopped. Still, the swell persisted and even without the assault from the mooring ball we had a few rough nights of sleep. That's one of the reasons why Francis Bay was such a welcome change. It allowed enough wind to push Rodeo away from the mooring ball, but was sheltered from the swell. Having secured the boat we went ashore to check out the beach and the forest beyond it. There we a discovery path led us through the woods and towards mud planes. The path was a boardwalk, raised off the ground to minimize our impact on the soft forest soil. Lookout points granted clear views of the mud planes where curlews waded through wet spots, fishing for crab. Wild deer and chickens could be seen rustling through the dried leaf bedding of  the woods. Mongoose and lizards were hiding in the cool shade of the trees. The island was truly captivating and we could no longer deny it. We were getting smacked right in the face with it. 

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