Shore leave

We follow other sailing blogs and often laugh that whenever cruisers come to the end of a long passage they race off the boat to get checked in and hunt for their favorite thing, whether it’s ice cream or a tropical drink or even just some fresh fruits and vegetables. We always said we’d just want to sleep!

Haha. We have joined the race crowd. At least I have. We picked up the mooring at Caneel Bay, St. John, and while Jack futzed with the boat and checked out the neighbors and the incredible view I changed my clothes, washed my face and gathered the ship’s papers we need for check in. All the while I’m saying, “Come on! Come on!”


Jack finally took his cockpit shower and we launched the dinghy for the first time in two weeks. We dinghied around the point to Cruz Bay and completely missed the channel leading to the Customs Dock and tied up instead near the ferry dock. That meant we came ashore disoriented and not knowing which way to go to check in, but dazzled by the little hub of colorful activity. We eventually found our way to Customs and got checked in, then stopped in the National Park Service office to get our Senior Pass which will give us 50% off the mooring fee and free entry to all a National Parks. Unfortunately the volunteer at the desk couldn’t help us and suggested we come back later when a ranger was there. In the meantime we asked where to get a good lunch. She looked at us funny.

“It’s 10:30,” she said. I looked at my phone in surprise. Sure enough. We’d been up for hours and it felt like late afternoon to us.

“Sun Dog Cafe,” she said, and pointed down the street to a collection of shops called Mongoose Junction. We’d heard about it on the online cruising guide.

Generally speaking we prefer to patronize local and independent businesses and eschew any kind of developer-created shopping district, but we fell in love with Mongoose Junction because of the design and architecture.




Sun Dog wasn’t open yet but the waiter invited us to sit down and use the wifi. We logged on and quickly sent our arrival announcement and downloaded our two weeks’ worth of email. The waiter brought us up to date on the news highlights and when the cafe opened we both ordered pizza and a Dark and Stormy.

Sun Dog’s wifi is limited to one hour so after lunch we wandered around town looking for ice cream and wifi. We found the ice cream at an open air cafe/bar. As the proprietor scooped our ice cream I asked if she were a native of St. John.

“No,” she said. “I’m from St. Lucia.” I asked her what brought her here and she gave a big heavy sigh and rolled her eyes.

“I was in love.” We laughed and I told her “Me too! That’s how I ended up where I did.” And she looked from me to Jack and back again.

“You’re lucky,” she said. We agreed and waved goodbye.

We wandered back to the National Park Service Office and found the ranger now on duty. She explained the Senior Pass and how to pay for the moorings, then I asked if she was born and raised here. She said no, but she’s been here for a very long time. And what brought her here? She sighed and I knew the look.

“A man.” she said. “He left. I stayed.” And she laughed, “I got the better end of the deal.” We agreed with that.

As we headed back toward the main road I told Jack I wanted to go back to the ice cream cafe and when the lady saw me climb the steps she raised an eyebrow to see us return so soon.

“I just had to tell you,” I said, and I told her she had a soul sister at the Park Office. She threw back her head and laughed, then told us she’d been married for 20 years and had five kids when her husband left her.

“He’s a dog!” I said.

“He’s more than a dog,” she said and just then her phone rang and we left her to it.


For the rest of the afternoon we ambled from park to cafe to park again, taking in the charming little town and logging online whenever we could to get reconnected with the world.



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2 Responses to Shore leave

  1. TomG

    A whole day to yourselves, letting slide worries about winches and water filters. Good on ya! St. John sounds like a calm and wonderful place.

  2. sounds good..I hear that the otehr side of the island has the greatest beach

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