My name’s Eric McKenzie and I’m a friend of Shane’s from Missouri. I sailed with him once before up the East Coast in 2011 before he started his chartering business. I was excited to come see him at work, see the improvements he made to the boat, and play in the Caribbean as well. As soon as I stepped on the boat I started noticing the improvements he’d made to it. The hard top over the cockpit added more protection from the elements. The new cushions in the salon looked great and were extremely comfortable. Speaking of comfort, the new mattresses in the cabins were more comfortable than my bed at home. I also liked his newer, more simple, waste disposal system. The next morning I was able to see how good the new paint job and decals on the outside look too.
The first morning we walked around the marina and snuck a peak at the new “Black Pearl,” for Disney’s new Pirates of the Caribbean movie scheduled to come out in 2014. We then hopped back on the boat and headed out for the Spanish Virgin Islands.
Our first stop was the extremely small, sandy island of Palaminto. When I think of an island in the Caribbean, this island is exactly what I picture, and it absolutely made my day. As soon as the anchor was set, I jumped off the boat and made a bee line for the island. When I stepped foot on shore, I can honestly say that I was the only person on the island for that moment. Then John and Tommy joined. It was a beautiful white sand island in crystal clear water that had maybe three trees on it and was small enough you could walk the entire circumference of the island in about 5 minutes.
The next morning we raised the main sail, let out the jib, and set sail for the island of Culebra. Being a powerboat guy, it was a pleasant and relaxing experience gliding across the water using nothing more than wind power. No engines polluting the sound of the wind and sea. No exhaust fumes drowning out the fresh air of the open ocean. Just the sensation of the wind, waves, and spray of the sea. I found it all relaxing enough that I spent some of the sail napping. I also loved the views along the way of the many tall Spanish Virgin Islands scattered across the horizon reaching for the sky as if they were mother nature’s skyscrapers of the sea.
We spent our evening at Culebra on a beautiful beach with a very odd, out of place, piece of scenery on it. An old Sherman Tank. Shane explained the history of the multiple tanks scattered throughout the island. They were placed on the island by the U.S. Military for bombing practice that came to an end in 1975 due to opposition met by Culebra locals. We then ate at a local restaurant called The Dinghy Dock, which also happened to be where our dinghy was docked. I thought the food was great and the owner of the Dinghy Dock came out from the kitchen and kept us company during our meal.
The next morning we headed for the island of Culebrita. I thought this island was absolutely gorgeous. There were several reefs where we moored and with the sun being out, where the reef, sand, sky, and crystal clear water all met, they formed the perfect combination of blues and turquoise that all came together beautifully to make an absolutely breathtaking sight. We snorkeled around the reefs for quite awhile then went on an awesome hike across the island to a couple geologically formed pools of seawater known as the Jacuzzi’s. It was neat to sit in and around the pools and watch the intensity of the surf of the ocean crashing into the rock walls of the island. We then snorkeled the other side of the island and found a group of Spotted Eagle Rays which I thought was an awesome experience because I’d never seen any in real life before. After supper, I took my pillow and blanket and went out and laid on the trampoline to take in the view of the stars. It was clear outside with a ton of stars lighting up the night sky, along with a few bioluminescent creatures lighting up the sea below. An absolutely magical experience that I took in until I ended up falling asleep, right there on the bow, until the sun woke me up the next morning. After breakfast Tommy and I hiked up to an old abandoned lighthouse at the highest point of the island. Getting a bird’s eye view of the entire island was absolutely amazing. After hanging out at the top of the lighthouse for awhile we then headed back to boat to set out for the U.S. Virgin Islands.
I have enjoyed the U.S. Virgin Islands as well while we were here but enjoyed the Spanish Virgin Islands the most. I loved the isolation that came with the Spanish Virgin Islands. To be able to go all day without seeing another person besides those on your boat and to be the only boat in the bay at night was a rare experience being in such a small, modern world today. The sights that the Spanish Virgin Islands hold would be hard to match as well. My advice to anybody making a trip down this way, is give the Spanish Virgin Islands a go. They’re too good to pass up.