April 2011

We were sitting on the boat at a favorite snorkeling spot on St. James island in the U.S. Virgin Islands when we heard an excited voice from the boat next to us.  After getting back to their boat one of the snorkelers said to another, “Dude, I just saw a real live stingray in the real ocean. How cool is that?”


During the height of the winter and spring cruising season St. Thomas is ruled by huge cruise ships. About 18 - 20 large cruise ships visit each week and on the busiest days there can be as many as six large cruise ships and all their passengers in the area. Traffic is a snarl and most locals assume that if you are a white North American then you are a cruise ship passenger and you are “hustled” for all types of tourist activities. There are hundreds of vendors that make their livelihood catering to all these tourists and we have enjoyed observing several of these activities. There are a couple of “pirate ships” that sail around the island probably providing cool alcoholic beverages and engaging the participants in lots of screams and shouts. You can rent your own dinghy and travel around to several bays and smaller islands with guides in inflatable boats with outboard engines. There is a large, loud jet boat that speeds through the waters and turns doughnuts in the water as all the passengers scream and shout. Of course there are several parasail boats and one boat with underwater scooters complete with a diving helmet. There are dozens of snorkel boats and we are often in an area where these snorkel boats stop for their guests to experience a one-hour snorkel. It is fun to hear the excitement of the snorkelers, especially the kids, as they scream through their snorkels upon seeing their first underwater sea life.

smooth trunkfish


We have continued to enjoy the U.S. Virgin Islands this month. Ann’s parents, Bobby and Betty, ended their visit on the boat and returned home in early April. Some cruisers that have been good friends since our previous visit to the Eastern Caribbean have decided to head back North to the U.S. this year, so we had to say our good-byes. (Why are they leaving just when we are getting back?)  We enjoyed a fun dinner and evening out with several friends of Steve and Linda on Seaman’s Elixir before their northbound journey. John on Sojourn joined us on-board for a farewell dinner before he started north. We are sad to see them leave, but we hope to catch up with all of them while we are back in Georgia in the early Fall.


gray angelfish


The highlight of the month was a short visit from our daughter Jennifer. It was her first time to visit on the boat and we enjoyed introducing her to several fun cruising activities. Most of our time was spent on St. John where we snorkeled and hiked. We saw a beautiful spotted eagle ray and enjoyed the underwater sea life. Jennifer loved watching all the turtles surface around the boat to “say hello” each day. She was awakened a couple of mornings by fish splashing all around the boat as they ate their breakfast.




st. john deerst. john mongoose








taino indian petroglyphs



On our hikes we saw deer, mongoose, numerous birds, several lizards, and tropical plants. Mongooses were brought by the Danes from India to help control rats who were eating the sugar cane crop. The rat control plan didn't work, but the mongoose is thriving on St. John today. We hiked to the Taino Indian petroglyphs that are found near a fresh-water spring on St. John. It is estimated that the petroglyphs were carved between 900 - 1500 AD. It was surprising to see that these petroglyph designs were very similar to the Taino Indian petroglyphs we saw in Puerto Rico (see February 2011). A national park volunteer at the Annaberg sugar mill ruins on St. John introduced Jennifer to several tropical fruits and plants and we enjoyed eating sugar cane and a fresh coconut.


Ann, John & Jennifer




At the end of the month, we received a call that our new grandson, Calvin Taylor Newman, was born to Ashley and Mike on April 28. Mother, Dad, Calvin, brother Lincoln and sister Ruby all seem to be doing well. Calvin is our 18th grandchild.