With the new toilet installed, we turned our attention back to the important things. With Dué in town, we had willing dive partners, and we took our dinghies down to the Swirling Reef of Death. Which, it turns out, was named by a young kid, and is actually just a pleasant, gently sloped area of the coastal reef. Highlights include sneaky hinds, peacock flounders, and several pairs of juvenile drums. Also, the rarely seen wild Jazzfish.
We also got to hang out with some other cruisers. Here’s a group dinner at Lost Dog.
Dué was kind enough to host a dive from their mothership, and we took their boat on a short jaunt up the coast to dive Armageddon and the Butler Bay wrecks. No pictures of Armageddon, as we’re still getting comfortable with how deep the camera can go, but it’s an aptly named site: giant piles of beams, circled by schools of barracuda and black-tipped reef sharks. Very cool site, though we wished we’d had nitrox for a longer bottom time. The wrecks we did take photos of, so here are some boats in various stages of overgrowth, plus some turtles, barracuda, and garden eels in the sandy patches in between.
We also shared a mini-van rental, to pick up groceries and do a bit of touristing. Jazz was super amused when she realized the rear view was definitely designed for child management. We loved this weird carved tree, and the big art Deco church. Leatherback is a must, of course, and we had a surprisingly good time at the Mutiny distillery. Cruzan, however, is sadly still closed. And since we had wheels, we figured we’d end the day at Sand Castles, where we had a very nice bread pudding. The world should have more caramel in it.
We also got some logistics taken care of, of course. Laundry is a necessary evil, and the laundromat here isn’t terrible. With everyone on their way out, we had to teach Captain how to print exit papers on the new printer from our pallet. He spent the rest of his time alternately napping and glaring. We cleaned Villa’s bottom, to make sure we would have a nice fast passage south. We got some veggies from a local farm, which included something called a chocolate pudding fruit; surprisingly aptly named, though it doesn’t really taste like either of those things. We took a first step towards our soon-to-come autopilot overhaul, rigging up a mount for the new, beefier hydraulic pump, and watching some videos on how hydraulic fittings work. And, maybe most importantly, we did a good bit of shopping.
A couple of Frederiksted things: this dancer statue, and the giant bait ball that lives under the dock. That dark area? That’s not grass, it’s a really dense school of fish.
This is probably also the place to talk about Jazz’s collection of Virgin Island car art. While Mario, Sexplosion, and Whip Cream are all excellent, the one that has become a meme for us is our favorite: “WHY YOU VEX y FUCK”. Truly everything about that car is marvelous.
Right after Dué left for Curacao, another boat of cruisers showed up. Caterpillar joined us and Make Way for a dinner at Ci Bo Ne, where I won dinner hands down by ordering the paella. On the way back, we found a traveling colony of bees had decided to stop in the park by the pier. Captain did not find that story amusing.
We’d loved the Frederiksted pier so much that we dove it again as a night dive, which was absolutely incredible. We spent 90 minutes in about 30 feet of water, watching super active morays and sleeping parrotfish. And we got a fantastic ten-minute color-changing light show from a huge octopus, who skulked around, alternately blowing up like a balloon and shrinking down as it hunted, seemingly oblivious to our lights and presence. We seriously regretted leaving the camera at home.
That dive was so good that we had to go again, so we hit the pier again and had another really stellar dive. Instead of just going along the pillars, we started with a detour to the pilings to the south, which are also lovey and teeming with fish. We have to have seen at least a dozen scorpion fish, half a dozen turtles and porcupine fish, and lots of other exciting critters.
That felt like a good note to end on, and we were feeling ready to leave for Bonaire. But St Croix wasn’t quite done with us; more on that in the next post.