St John

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bryan k
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Re: St John

Postby bryan k » Tue Jun 20, 2017 6:55 pm

Coda1850 wrote:Hey, Doug - do you recognize the bay? & we did go sailing/snorkeling but it was our least enjoyable thing there. The sail out was kinda fun to watch the guy sail with all those ropes & whatnot... we hit up 3 snorkel spots but didn't even pop off the boat for the 3rd spot. The sail back in was kinda boring (are we there yet!?, lol). It wasn't bad or anything - it was just more fun doing our own snorkeling from all the beaches. We had to try it but wouldn't do it again if (when?) we go back. The largest fish we both saw was up by that 1st rock on Trunk Bay... it had to be 6'+ long. It was bigger than me :oh

Bryan - that basically describes how ridiculous the place is. (& that donkey is a she!)


The beaches we went to were:
Salt Pond Bay
Little Lameshur Bay (that's the pic with the ruin by the ocean)
Francis Bay
Trunk Bay
Cinnamon Bay

^ in that order. I'm rambling but that place is amazing.


Feel free to ramble. It looks awesome, and it sounds like you had an amazing time. Probably not my cup of tea, though, because it also looks humid. I live in my personal paradise here in Phoenix.

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Re: St John

Postby DougE » Tue Jun 20, 2017 10:50 pm

jasonfish11 wrote: See any sharks?


In all the time I was living in the islands and sailing all over the US and British VIs, I cannot remember seeing any sizeable sharks. It's not like the Bahamas (or even Florida), where sharks are a dime a dozen. Not that there aren't sharks in the Virgin Islands, they just aren't something that are prevalent in many harbors. The waters all around The VIs are very deep (thousands of feet), while the waters around the Bahamas are very shallow relatively speaking. Reef sharks, (black tips, white tips, etc.) like shallower waters with lots of reefs, something you'll find much more of in the Bahamas. Don't get me wrong, sharks are everywhere. But it is rare to see them in the Virgins unless you are diving in an area loaded with larger reef fish. What I did see everyday were large barracuda at many of the regular places I took charter guests snorkeling, as well as just about anywhere and everywhere else around the islands. I have some good stories about those ugly guys, one in particular who had a reputation among charter captains for giving their snorkeling guests a good scare. But that's a whole 'nother long-winded, albeit interesting, post I'd have to write......on a golf forum.

Coda: I am familiar with all the places you mentioned. I used to take my day-charter guests to Francis Bay, Maho Bay, Cinnamon Bay and Trunk Bay three or four days a week. I took my week-long charter guests all over the BVIs, but usually stopped on the way back for the final night in either, Lameshur Bay or Coral Bay. I have sailed into just about every bay on St. John at one time or another over my time there. Only those that were too shallow for my 9' draft sailboat, or those without good holding ground (for anchoring) were not visited. There are some fabulous harbors on St. John, and most of the other islands to the east in the BVIs. I miss those days. :wah

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Re: St John

Postby jasonfish11 » Wed Jun 21, 2017 7:00 am

Interesting. I never thought of that (deep water) but it makes sense. I originally was wanting to be a marine biology major in hopes of studying sharks, but decided I wanted to be able to feed a family. You do see your fare share in FL and the Bahamas specially when spearfishing.

makes me less interested in going to the bvi (or Eastern Caribbean). Lol. I'm probably one of the few people who like swimming with sharks. Actually I plan to swim with a white shark w/o a cage before I die (hopefully more than a couple min before I die). But my wife is vetoing that until my son is in college.
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Re: St John

Postby DougE » Wed Jun 21, 2017 8:15 am

jasonfish11 wrote: Actually I plan to swim with a white shark w/o a cage before I die (hopefully more than a couple min before I die). But my wife is vetoing that until my son is in college.


I think your wife probably means "finished with"[/size] and it's been completely paid for! :lolz

Speaking of Great Whites, I had a very large one following my boat one evening for about a half an hour. I'm not positive it was a Great White, as the sun had already set and dusk was waning, but it was clearly obvious that it was at least 12 feet. It definitely wasn't a reef shark of any sort, since it was off the Continental Shelf, just north of the Gulf Stream between Newport and Bermuda. Could have been a very large Tiger if not a White. We had been BBQing off the stern rail and food was being tossed into the sea. This guy stayed about 30 feet off the transom as we went into the night. Once it was completely dark, we couldn't find the large fin with a flashlight any longer, but I noticed the crew making sure they were harnessed on for the night, as was my policy for after dark anyway.

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Re: St John

Postby jasonfish11 » Wed Jun 21, 2017 8:29 am

My parents had a small whale shark following their sail boat one night on their way back from the Tortuga's.

Unfortunately for them it was too dark to jump in and have a swim with it.

Oh and she might have said out of college lol
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Re: St John

Postby DougE » Wed Jun 21, 2017 9:09 am

Whale sharks don't like cold water. North Atlantic ocean waters, north of the Gulf Stream in June are usually in the low-mid 60s. Whale sharks like mid-70s and above. I have only seen one whale shark and it was well south, between Bermuda and the Caribbean, somewhere along I-65 a couple days out of the Virgins.

(FYI, I-65 is a delivery skipper's nickname for the 65* meridian of longitude, roughly followed from Bermuda to the Virgins. During late October and early November there are so many yachts making the trip south from the Northeast that it's like a highway. It is not unusual to see 6 or 7 other boats each day along that meridian, whereas normally, during the rest of the year (except in April and May when many of those same boats are making their way back north) seeing another boat that far out at sea is often the big excitement for the day. Charlotte Amalie in St. Thomas sits at about 64.5*W and Bermuda is at 64.4*. Hence the I-65 moniker.)

Isn't this a golf forum? Sorry. Can't help myself. Offshore sailing is still in my blood. Always will be.

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Re: St John

Postby jasonfish11 » Wed Jun 21, 2017 9:32 am

Yeah I realized when you said where you saw the shark it wasn't likely a whale shark (unless it was a very lost whale shark).

My parents saw the one behind their boat off the coast of Naples Fl heading back to St. Pete from the Dry Tortugas.

My parents are in the process of selling their business so that next year once they start collecting SS they can just take off and spend a couple years bouncing around the Caribbean. They keep saying they would only go for 6 months or so at a time, but seriously I'm expecting them to call me 6-8 months in and say "Hey Jason can you go down and sell the stuff in our house? We are going to sell the house. I'm not sure we will make it out of the Caribbean in the next couple of years."

I read about someone planning a trip to circumnavigate the world in 10 years. That plan was shot when they spent the first 10 years in the Caribbean just because of how much they enjoyed it.
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Re: St John

Postby jasonfish11 » Wed Jun 21, 2017 9:46 am

DougE wrote:Isn't this a golf forum? Sorry. Can't help myself. Offshore sailing is still in my blood. Always will be.


Haha, maybe you and I should start a "Doug & Fish in the drink" for water related topics.

I've never been a big "sailing" person but I grew up on power boats, fishing, diving, & anything water related. When I was 7 or 8 my dad threw a tank into the pool handed me a screw driver and a new filter cover and asked me to fix the filter in the bottom of the pool. Given how shallow it was and how small I was my oxygen consumption wasn't very high. I came up to the surface 3 hours later.
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Re: St John

Postby DougE » Wed Jun 21, 2017 10:26 am

jasonfish11 wrote:I read about someone planning a trip to circumnavigate the world in 10 years. That plan was shot when they spent the first 10 years in the Caribbean just because of how much they enjoyed it.


Yeah, if I had a dime for everyone I ran into who was planning on sailing around the world, stopped in the VIs and never left, I'd have at least 3 or 4 bucks! It's the common MO for many who have big dreams but have never been to sea. They leave the safety and security of land on an ill-prepared boat, find out how terrifying things can be when a storm or two hit at sea, are lucky enough to make it to the islands somehow without being killed, drop anchor and then never leave. Many because they are too afraid to go back to sea after the often unpleasant experience of getting there, and others because it gets too comfortable drinking morning to night and living the low-stress island life.

Oh, the stories I could tell about some of the characters I've met down there.

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Re: St John

Postby DougE » Wed Jun 21, 2017 11:38 am

Got all excited talking about my old life. Went and found a few pics to reminisce over. The first one is of me "getting there" just before a gale set in. The seas are starting to build. (Actually this pic was from one of my trips back to the states from the Caribbean, somewhere north of Bermuda, but south of the Gulf Stream. It used to be one of my old Oob avatars. You may remember it.) The other pics below show a small snippet of my "job" and "workplace" in the Caribbean.
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Me at helm as gale is starting to build.jpg
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Midday Siesta on Peter Island.jpg
Midday Siesta on Peter Island.jpg (51.43 KiB) Viewed 482 times
Navigation planning for tomorrow's adventure.jpg
Navigation planning for tomorrow's adventure.jpg (51.29 KiB) Viewed 482 times
Lkg out at DAKOTA at anchor in the BVIs.jpg
Lkg out at DAKOTA at anchor in the BVIs.jpg (37.02 KiB) Viewed 482 times
My baby DAKOTA in the BVIs.jpg
My baby DAKOTA in the BVIs.jpg (50.58 KiB) Viewed 482 times
Charter guests enjoying what they paid for.jpg
Charter guests enjoying what they paid for.jpg (78.38 KiB) Viewed 482 times
Relaxing while the guests are on shore.jpg
Relaxing while the guests are on shore.jpg (67.88 KiB) Viewed 482 times
Another Sunset at Sea.jpg
Another Sunset at Sea.jpg (31.17 KiB) Viewed 482 times

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Re: St John

Postby jasonfish11 » Wed Jun 21, 2017 11:50 am

How long is the sail from Bermuda to the BVI? Also I assume coming back (with the stream) is quicker, but who the hell cares about coming back lol.

My parents are pretty slow (imo) so I'm not sure how to judge their sail times.
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Re: St John

Postby DougE » Wed Jun 21, 2017 12:39 pm

It's no quicker in either direction really as you sail pretty much perpendicular to the Stream when headed to or from New England. It's about 350-400 miles north of Bermuda where you enter it. The Stream current moves south to north as it comes up the southern US coast, only a few miles offshore, until it gets to the Hatteras area, where it makes a right hand turn and moves out to sea between Bermuda and New England, running toward the Azores and Europe for the most part, west to east. There are all sorts of clockwise and counter clockwise eddies that spin off which can help or hurt your sail depending on where you enter them. In mid-summer there is usually a long "meander" which can run north to south for 100 miles. It is very advantageous to enter the meander on the proper side (as well as any eddies). It can save many hours of time, but you have to know how to find it. As a racing sailor, I always knew how and where to find the meander and any advantageous eddies. It is a major part of navigating/winning a Bermuda Race. You play every positive current you can.

But again, this is well north of Bermuda and would not affect anyone coming from the Carribean to Bermuda or vice versa.

On a boat like mine (nearly 50', bluewater performance sailboat), I could make Bermuda from St. Thomas in about 5 days or so, on average, depending on the wind and sea conditions. Usually under 4 days from Bermuda to Connecticut.

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Re: St John

Postby jasonfish11 » Wed Jun 21, 2017 1:15 pm

DougE wrote:It's no quicker in either direction really as you sail pretty much perpendicular to the Stream when headed to or from New England. It's about 350-400 miles north of Bermuda where you enter it. The Stream current moves south to north as it comes up the southern US coast, only a few miles offshore, until it gets to the Hatteras area, where it makes a right hand turn and moves out to sea between Bermuda and New England, running toward the Azores and Europe for the most part, west to east. There are all sorts of clockwise and counter clockwise eddies that spin off which can help or hurt your sail depending on where you enter them. In mid-summer there is usually a long "meander" which can run north to south for 100 miles. It is very advantageous to enter the meander on the proper side (as well as any eddies). It can save many hours of time, but you have to know how to find it. As a racing sailor, I always knew how and where to find the meander and any advantageous eddies. It is a major part of navigating/winning a Bermuda Race. You play every positive current you can.

But again, this is well north of Bermuda and would not affect anyone coming from the Carribean to Bermuda or vice versa.

On a boat like mine (nearly 50', bluewater performance sailboat), I could make Bermuda from St. Thomas in about 5 days or so, on average, depending on the wind and sea conditions. Usually under 4 days from Bermuda to Connecticut.


Wow that is lightning from my experiences w/ sail boats. I knew my parents were slow but it takes them 3 days to get from St. Pete to the Dry Tortugas. At the speed you are talking about sailing would be much more bearable to me. They were talking about sailing down through the Okeechobee locks up the coast to Norfolk and hanging out here a month one summer. But said it would likely take them 4-6 weeks of sailing to get here. Although they like stopping a lot, so they'd probably stop in Jacksonville, Savannah, and both S and N Carolina to get some "shore time" and play golf.

I had to look at a map and I forgot how far east the eastern half of the Caribbean is. I always feel like the Caribbean and Bermuda are much closer to the east coast than they are.

I know the gulf stream can really help/hurt if you're in it. We broke down on the way to the bahama's one year about 45 miles off the coast of West Palm Beach and when SeaTow got to us a couple hours later we were about 20 miles north of where we broke down.
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Re: St John

Postby jasonfish11 » Wed Jun 21, 2017 1:39 pm

What would be the smallest (well equipped) boat you'd feel comfortable making that trip in? I've heard of people circumnavigating the world in 28' boats, but that seems crazy to me and I feel it would be borderline too small for a trip where you aren't in close contact of land for more than 24 hours. My parents have a 36' something which I feel is the smallest I'd consider, but just curious on your thoughts.

I could ask you a million other questions because when I get to retirement I'd love to start sailing down there from Virginia (if I could convince my wife 10 days of sailing is worth spending 6+ winter months in the Caribbean).
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Re: St John

Postby DougE » Wed Jun 21, 2017 9:22 pm

So much depends on the boat. Some 50 foot sailboats are not built for the rigors of offshore bluewater passages, while some 28 footers are. Also, obviously, just having a good boat is only half the battle. Having the experience is just as important, if not more so. My 48' Swan was considered to be a boat built to go anywhere in the world. If your parents have been around sailing for awhile, they will know what a Swan is. I know a girl who sailed around the world alone at the age of 14 in a 26' Contessa, which was custom built for her and the challenge. Her trip became a world record at the time for youngest female to sail solo around the world. Though she knew how to sail, she certainly wasn't an experienced yachtswoman when she left New York Harbor on her 25,000+ mile journey. Tania Aebi. (Look her up. She's an interesting woman. Her book about the trip was written along the way, Maiden Voyage)

In my opinion, 36 feet is about the smallest production sailboat I would take hundreds of miles out to sea. Most boats can handle sailing coastal waters, but deep sea, bluewater passages are not normally something a typical production sailboat should be used for. Purpose-built offshore sailboats (like my Swan) are really the smarter way to go. Interestingly, the minimum length sailboat that can be entered in the Newport/Bermuda or Marion/Bermuda Race is 36 feet. The average size is well over 40 feet.

Frankly, when things get rough at sea, no boat seems big enough. However, for the most part, a 36' well founded boat built for bluewater conditions (not coastal sailing) should be able to handle most everyday gales, provided, the captain and crew know what the hell they are doing, which sadly, is not always the case.

Personally, after many bluewater passages between the Northeast and the Caribbean, and over 125,000 miles under my keels, at this point in my life, 50 feet is about the lower limit of what I might consider going to sea in today. I'm done being uncomfortable at sea. Now that I think about it, maybe even 60' is my minimum. And only if it is something built like a Swan.

I'll stick to golf. It's challenge enough for me these days. Though, all this talk about sailing the Caribbean has gotten me to thinking about what a great sailing life I once had and all the great places I visited and things I accomplished along the way. I have to admit, I do miss it sometimes. Like right now.

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Re: St John

Postby jfurr » Wed Jun 21, 2017 10:08 pm

Cool stuff, Cap't Doug.
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Re: St John

Postby jfurr » Wed Jun 21, 2017 10:23 pm

I have a friend who does some kind of sailing/racing. He's always driving way far away and taking a boat or picking up a boat or something. Also rum drinking seems to be pretty important LOL. He's at some Duluth yacht race right now. That's MN, correct?
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Re: St John

Postby sjduffers » Wed Jun 21, 2017 10:56 pm

jfurr wrote:Cool stuff, Cap't Doug.


Yup. Really enjoying all the stories and knowledge. I was once on a sailboat needing to be moved from one northern coastal town in Normandy to another coastal town in Brittany (France), just for fun as I didn't know (and still don't) much about boats: the trip took a couple of days with an overnight stay somewhere along the way (so coastal sailing as you put it). It was lots of fun, and also quite rough, as far as I remember it. And I fed the fishes too... :facepalm
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Re: St John

Postby jasonfish11 » Thu Jun 22, 2017 10:05 am

Nice stuff.

My parents have a 36' catalina which they basically use for island hopping, but are capable of making much longer trips. I'm not too knowledgeable on sailboats but I do know that as for sailing experience they have plenty to make trips to the Caribbean, not to mention 20+ years of offshore boating experience.

They currently go on their sailboat for 1 month after tax season. The reason I figure they can't only spend 6 months in the Caribbean is because they will likely take 1-2 months to get outside of the Bahamas. I envision them taking 3 days to get down to the tortugas/keys. Spending 1 or 2 days there. Bouncing over to the bahamas somewhere. Then taking a couple weeks to a month to wonder their way to the Turks & Caicos. Then from their making their way to Dominican Republic on their way to Peurto Rico and eventually the virgin islands. Then doing the same on the way back.

Maybe instead of going around Florida they cut through Okeechobee then sail over to west end in the Bahamas.

I just don't see THEM making a round trip in 6 months lol. To me that is super slow lol.
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Re: St John

Postby Coda1850 » Thu Jun 22, 2017 11:53 am

Well - it was Coral Bay where we stayed. The wife picked the place & the "spot". She nailed it on both. Being on the "quiet" island & also out on the other side, less busy, area of the quiet island was perfect for us. Cruz Bay - we wouldn't have liked anywhere near as much. We had plenty of restaurants near us. Our favorite was Indigo Grill. The Triple B was a nice breakfast spot right & it was at the bottom of the mountain we were on. That's where mama & baby donkey hung around. We did some boozin' at Skinny Legs & Indigo Grill a few nights. Both were just down the street a couple minutes. There was another restaurant about 10 or 15 minutes away the wife really liked. I forget the name but the food was good & they had some live music the night we ate there. Ocean view too.

I bet we go back, some day.
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Re: St John

Postby DougE » Thu Jun 22, 2017 11:54 am

I know many cruisers who have sailed long distances in Catalinas. They have a good reputation as a somewhat affordably-priced, middle-of-the-road production boat. It is a very good company, with a long history of building decent looking and coastal cruising sailboats. And though there have been many who have taken their Catalinas to far off places around the world, personally, I would not feel safe at sea in a major storm in even their largest model. They are just not built for that level of wind and sea conditions. Their rigging is undersized and their construction assumes they will be coastal cruising, maybe in rough seas, but not 20-30 foot seas for days on end, hundreds or even thousands of miles from help. That can quickly take a toll on any boat, let alone one not built for those conditions.

For sailing to the Caribbean from any Florida port, as long as you know what you are doing (as it sounds like your parents do), have the boat properly prepared to go to sea, pick the right time of year, have a complete understanding of the projected weather ahead, while you closely monitor any changes in forecast, 99 times out of 100, the Catalina will get you there safely. The Gulf Stream can be rough when the wind kicks up, but you should know the forecasted direction of the wind before heading off into it. When leaving FL, if you have a strong Norther, you don't cross the Stream. Wait until something more southerly fills in, or there is no wind. Turn on the motor and power through it while it is docile. After the Stream crossing, island hopping down to the Turks and Caicos is like coastal cruising, with the exception of your everyday tropical squalls, which during the day when you can see them, can be sailed around most of the time. At night, without radar, a little harder, but I will assume your parents have radar. Most boats making passages these days are equipped with radar.

From the T&Cs, they will have a lot of hard sailing to windward, which can make for some lumpy conditions when the wind gets up over 25 knots. Could be uncomfortable for a few days, but if they are going to the DR first, it will break it up. Most boats go straight from T&Cs to PR and then onto the VIs. Since the trip is all to windward, it can easily take 3 full days in a 36 footer to reach Puerto Rico. It's probably about 350-400 miles to San Juan from T&Cs, as the crow flies, but going to windward will add many additional miles. The tradewinds can get/be a little stronger if you try to make the trip after mid-December. So, I would recommend a November crossing, after hurricane season settles down and before the Christmas winds kick up in the eastern Caribbean. From San Juan, it is just a hop, skip and a jump to St. Thomas, albeit all to windward, and then into the BVIs for some of the most beautiful anchorages in the Caribbean. Oh man, why did I ever leave? :facepalm

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Re: St John

Postby DougE » Thu Jun 22, 2017 12:03 pm

Yes, Coda, Cruz Bay is not where you want to stay if you are looking for peace and tranquility. Busy harbor. Lots of boat traffic in and out. No beach to speak of, and party central on St. John. It' can be a fun night out there, though.

I had to clear in and out of there whenever I went over to the BVIs. But sshhhh!, I didn't always do so! :wink:

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Re: St John

Postby jasonfish11 » Thu Jun 22, 2017 1:18 pm

Yes northernly winds in the stream SUCK. We have had that happen on one trip to the bahamas.

We were crossing to the bahamas one year and unexpectedly the wind switched to being 15-20mph out of the North when we were about 1/2 way there. Seas went from 2-3' to 8-10 very quickly, with 12' seas in the rips.

We were on a 28' boat with a single engine, although we had another 28' with dual engines as a buddy boat. The last half of the trip was not fun. The betram we were with took a pretty big shot when it nose dove (what's the past tense of nose dive?) into one wave and ripped about 1/4 of the bow railing off.
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Re: St John

Postby jasonfish11 » Thu Jun 22, 2017 2:18 pm

BTW this is really making me miss being out on a boat every other weekend or so.
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Re: St John

Postby CeeBee » Thu Jun 22, 2017 6:53 pm

Amazing stuff guys. What I don't get Doug, is why you gave up the island life for Connecticut and Maryland. Methinks you may be severely ill.
Tee it up!


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