Tuesday, June 27, 2017

5 days of traveling'exploring the virgin islands by inflatable Pt 2

PT 2
A good way to wake up. Coffee on board

A good nights' sleep in one of Jost Van Dyke's finest cabins (a 12x12 cabin with electric and a ceiling fan) And the morning starts with a sunrise typically found in the islands. The day reveals the cabins. Each one is painted differently.
                                                             Cabin in Jost Van Dyke

  A swift departure from Jost Van Dyke and this is the paddle I have not been looking forward to. Crossing back to St John during prime time in the shipping channel. Loads of boats hauling butt across and I'm going right through it. My goal is to make it to  Whistling Cay ( the circled spot on the map) lying just before St. John.
                                                            A moment before departure

    Leaving the bay is the easy part. Once out in the ocean is where I Start falling off the board. 13-18mph winds sometimes gusting to 20+ have their way with me.  It's a constant battle to stay in the direction I want to go. This means I have to paddle only on my right side the entire time.  It ends up being less of a normal front to back stroke and more so a sweep or C stroke. The wind and the chop continuously pummel the side of the board.  This wouldn't be as big an issue  without a fin. The fin "anchors" the board to go straight but there is no straight from the wind and chop. The nose of the board wants to fight to go with the wind. I fight to keep a line across to Whistling Cay.
     The paddle across is mostly uneventful.  Mostly me clinging onto the board, falling off, remounting, and paddling like a maniac to stay straight. I do come across a massive sea turtle.  I followed him a ways but he didn't care for my company much and left within a few minutes. I did manage to get a fuzzy shot of him.

                                                     Imagine, That's just the head!

  5 hours later and I make it across the main open ocean crossing and am getting ready to enter the shipping lane. I float next to a large rock outcropping of a small uninhabited island watching the boat traffic.  It's about 1 mile from the small island across to Whistling cay, a small former outpost. 
      I see a clearing and paddle as fast as I can and get about 1/4 of the way across until I see a large ferry boat coming from the east. I keep a steady eye on it and paddle with a 90% effort cadence.  I get half way across the channel and hear to the west some deep growling engines. A huge Catamaran is motoring full throttle towards me. I'm a blip in the water and he doesn't see me. I am all out in panic mode and 100% paddling at this point. The boat steadily is closing in on me and It seems like death is now a possibility.   No time to die, I paddle like an idiot and see that I'm going to clear the boat just barely.  I get by and have 30 yards to spare. Seems like alot but it's not.

              This was the ferry coming from the East I saw first. It ended up very close to me as well

So Death averted I'm happy to get to Whistling Cay. It was an old Outpost way back in the day when the Virgin islands were colonized. Troops were stationed here to look for invaders coming and they would warn the Government of St. John. 

                    I entered whistling Cay and beached right where you see. The far island in the distance is where the shipping channel extends to. Doesn't look far but it is, trust me.

 To the left you can see Western St. John. The fort actually actually faces the north shore of St. John at Maho Bay.

From Whistling Cay it's a quick paddle to paradise, Maho Bay

I spend a couple hours here joined by strangers from Wisconsin that conveniently have a cooler of beer.  Later I Get a ride from My Friend Chirag back to his house to get cleaned up and relax before the night's activities.
                                       At the St. John Brewers Taproom with Chirag that evening

The following day was supposed to be me paddling to Puerto Rico a distance of about 60 miles of open water. The morning comes and the decision is to abort Puerto Rico. The "Christmas Winds" have arrived and are blowing 20+ mph consistently. On top of which the local paddlers tell me that the area between St. Thomas and Puerto Rico is heavily fished and that attracts lots of sharks. So the easy decision was to play it safe and stay on St. John.  I decide on a North Shore paddle on my last day in paradise.

                                                                Leaving Maho Bay
                                                            Quick stop on a rock beach

                                               Cool Pirate ship on western St. John

                                                                            Cruz Bay
                                                  Cruz Bay, Gear pulled off the board

                                                                Back at the Beach Bar

                                   The next morning I catch a ferry over to St. Thomas with my gear
                              A quick Baggage check in to a Cape Air Flight from St. Thomas airport

                                                    Seems it's a wee bit of a small plane

                                       I arrive in Puerto Rico and later board a flight back to Missouri

  All in all, traveling and living out of 2 bags was a fun adventure. If you have an inflatable sup, don't mind a little sweat, and have an open adventurous mind, you can have quite the adventure. No tour guides. No fancy hotels. No pampering. 
                                                 Just TRAVEL. PADDLE. STORE


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