Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools
THE Ultimate Cruisers' Planning Tool
Sections
You are here: Home / Countries / US Virgin Islands / US Virgin Islands: St. Thomas is Open for Visiting!

US Virgin Islands: St. Thomas is Open for Visiting!

By Joan Conover — last modified Feb 23, 2018 10:10 AM
This report shows that the Island has made a great recovery after hurricame Irma which hit it in November 2017.

Published: 2018-02-23 00:00:00
Countries: US Virgin Islands

Here is another great article from www.caribbeancompass.com keeping cruisers updated on what's going on in the Islands, in particualar, St Thomas.

This report is by Joan Conover after recent visit to the island.

In early December 2017 we sailed our Morgan 511, 'Growltiger' into Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, USVI to anchor at night — which is not recommended. Luckily my husband, Greg, and I were able to avoid the many white buoys (moorings? Wreck warnings? Who knew?) in place around the marked anchorage locations.

At dawn we proceeded to Crown Bay Marina, where we found excellent cruising support with a slip, clean fuel and water, Tickle’s restaurant, a well-supplied Island Marine store, hot showers, and laundry facilities. The marina had suffered damage from vessels breaking loose and hitting some of their docks during last September’s Hurricane Irma, but most were now open for use and, while electricity was still not available at the slips, new electric stands were being installed. Free WiFi is available at the slips (with an extender) from VIYA. This company has provided complimentary services to all the US Virgin Islands as their contribution to hurricane recovery. It’s greatly appreciated by all!

View over crown Bay, St Thomas © Joan Conover

The new management includes Manager Larry Imhoff, the friendly face of Eustacia, and a personal friend, Dock Master Jamie Steinbergen, of the sailing vessel Kittiwake, a long time Seven Seas Cruising Station member. She was making sure vessels arrived in their slips safely, even helping us with our less than graceful exit in bad side winds. The Crown Bay dinghy dock is open (tenders over 20 feet should be registered with the office).

During our week in the marina, we watched yachts come in daily for fuel and some to stay for a night or so. For boats just dropping off or picking up crew, talk to the office for availability. The fuel area is one of the better designed on the island; call the marina office, hail on VHF 16, then chat on 11, to obtain permission to come into the inner harbor. This is critical as the larger ferries and megayachts can take up the entire entry coming in and out; scheduling of use of the fuel area is also needed with up to three vessels possible within the turning basin.

The large Pueblo supermarket, a couple of short blocks away, was very well stocked, with fresh fruit, meats, frozen vegetables, breads and almost every item found in USA supermarkets. We saw no major difference from last year’s stock.

The Pet Paradise, a full service pet store, is open, with a full assortment of pet foods and other pet items, and full grooming services — and our dog’s favorite treats. The AT&T office has standing room outside for the large number of customers and extra security guards; evidently cellular service is in high demand. The beauty parlor is open and while they have walk-in services, the business is brisk and there could be a day’s wait for salon services. The Mail Stop is open, as is the ice cream shop with its lifesaving morning cup of coffee. Yogi is back, with his black van taxi service. He gave us a warm welcome, and his spot (with the posted roadside Yogi Taxi sign) is back in it usual place near the dockside ferry landing in Crown Bay. Nice to see all our friends survived the storm!

Across from the marina entrance, Elephant Bay had a large number of anchored vessels including cruisers; this area seemed to be the preferred anchorage at that time. We saw three damaged hulls aground the west side of Hassel Island, and others on the east side. Water Island also had several vessels aground. While harbor channels, such as the cut between Crown Bay and Charlotte Amalie Harbor, have been cleared by the USCG, there are likely sunken objects scattered underwater in the deeper areas, some marked by buoys.

Touring the island in one of the little open truck taxis (US$25 per person for three hours) from Crown Bay to Hill Top, Red Hook, Bolongo Bay and back to Charlotte Amalie, it was clear some areas were hit harder than others.

Brewers Bay looked untouched and there were at least two anchored cruising boats taking advantage of the calm waters and white sands. At the tourist attraction of Hill Top, looking over the sea toward St. John and the BVI was beautiful, but sad. There were no white sails, no boats on passage — just the sea and the islands. It was back to the 1950s.

Continuing toward the east side of the island, a view of the Charlotte Amalie harbor was a reminder of recovery. Yacht Haven Grande Marina was open and the docks looked undamaged. However boat traffic was light, and we saw few filled slips. The fuel dock was operational, and the agent mentioned they had electricity and water. Again, there were very few anchored or moored yachts seen, and the harbor had a lot of new wreck-marking buoys. It was as empty as we had ever seen for cruising boats, but several large cruise ships were tied up at Havensight.

Overall, at waterfront level Charlotte Amalie showed either little external storm damage or a tremendous amount accomplished to get things back to pre-hurricane shape.

Continuing on the taxi circumnavigation of the island, on the northern coast we found Coki Beach and the Coki Dive Center open and active, local roadside stands are open, the beaches are clean and white, the fish have come back to the coral, and it’s life as usual under the sea there. Peter Jackson of Coki Dive Center said things were pretty much normal except for a slight downturn in customers. Coral World did not seem to have much damage, although they were not open.

The town of Red Hook seemed almost back to normal, Barefoot Davis was even playing Friday nights at Tap and Still! The local docks at Red Hook took a major hit, but the American Yacht Harbor marina had some slips available and an operational fuel dock. We saw some yachts anchored at the end of the docks; evidently the other areas of Red Hook were limited for anchoring.

Farther to the west we came to Benner Bay, looking worse than Red Hook, with greater damage to the docks, sunken vessels and missing buildings in the mangrove areas and channels. However, the Independent Boat Yard, a working yard, was actively helping with recovery. We stopped to observe them aggressively righting boats with cranes, and helping to get the cruising vessels that had been knocked off cradles back in place. Unlike some other boat-salvage efforts, the staff of IDBY carefully lifts boats without mast removal or invasive cutting. There was a strong focus on helping cruisers quickly get their boats back together and into the water. The carpenter shop was severely damaged, but the little restaurant, CaRiGa’s, had just reopened that day, serving meals and drinks. With cruisers working on their vessels, the yard was busy. The local Budget Marine store was open, with little damage visible.

The channel to the marinas was in the process of being cleared: a crane appeared to be lifting out debris and boats. With the number of wrecks around, this area should be entered only with great caution until officially cleared.

Sadly, the mangrove swamps are gone. Mud and debris fill the waterway where green plants existed last summer. Just twigs of mangrove twisted trunks are sticking out around boat carnage; a large cat hull floated midway between two arms of mangrove isles and various vessels showed emergency patches to hulls. From the path of wind and wave damage, from the southeast to the northwest up the bay, this must have been Ground Zero for Irma’s eye wall. It was difficult to see the carnage, remembering our visit just last spring and seeing large numbers of beautiful vessels. But given the amount of damage, lack of electric power, the denuding of the mangrove areas, the atmosphere was still upbeat and busy.

At Christmas Cove just to the east of the Benner Bay marinas, a single vessel was seen at the anchorage where ten or more boats would usually be moored or anchored. The single mast in a formerly crowded mooring area was telling. In fact, few sailboats were seen underway anywhere, except for larger charter boats taking groups out for day sails and events.

Based on our trip around the island, we found businesses open, with some limitations (mainly lack of electricity), especially the major tourism areas, which were very busy with cruise ship passengers. Several enclaves existed for cruisers, such as Crown Bay Marina, and Yacht Haven Grande, and American Yacht Harbor. Elephant Bay and Water Island beaches were open for anchoring and at Water Island, Coki Beach and Red Hook the small beach bars are back in service.

The locals have faith that the cruisers will return to help their economy recover. We met friendly people everywhere who all had the same message: “St. Thomas is open for visiting!”

Report by Joan Conover

Countries
Albania
Algeria
American Samoa
Angola
Anguilla
Antarctica
Antigua & Barbuda
Argentina
Aruba
Ascension Island
Australia
Azores
BIOT (Chagos)
Bahamas
Bahrain
Barbados
Belgium
Belize
Bermuda
Bonaire
Bosnia
Bouvetoya
Brazil
British Virgin Islands
Brunei
Bulgaria
Cambodia
Canada
Canary Islands
Cape Verdes
Cayman Islands
Channel Islands
Chile
China
Christmas Island
Cocos Keeling
Colombia
Comoros
Cook Islands
Costa Rica
Croatia
Cuba
Curacao
Cyprus
Denmark
Djibouti
Dominica
Dominican Republic
East Timor (Timor Leste)
Easter Island
Ecuador
Egypt
El Salvador
Eritrea
Estonia
Falkland Islands
Faroe Islands
Federated States of Micronesia
Fiji
Finland
France
French Guiana
French Polynesia
French Subantarctic Territory
Galapagos
Gambia
Georgia
Germany
Gibraltar
Greece
Greenland
Grenada
Guadeloupe
Guam
Guatemala
Guinea-Bissau
Guyana
Haiti
Hawaii
Heard, McDonald & Macquarie Islands
Honduras
Hong Kong
Iceland
India
Indonesia
Ireland
Israel
Italy
Ivory Coast
Jamaica
Japan
Jordan
Juan Fernandez Islands
Kenya
Kiribati
Kuwait
Latvia
Lebanon
Libya
Lithuania
Macau
Madagascar
Madeira
Malaysia
Maldives
Malta
Marion & Prince Edward Island
Marshall Islands
Martinique
Mauritania
Mauritius
Mayotte
Mexico
Monaco
Montenegro
Montserrat
Morocco
Mozambique
Myanmar (Burma)
Namibia
Nauru
Netherlands
New Caledonia
New Zealand
New Zealand's Subantarctic Islands
Nicaragua
Niue
Norfolk Island
Northern Marianas
Norway
Oman
Palau (Belau)
Panama
Papua New Guinea
Peru
Philippines
Pitcairn Island
Poland
Portugal
Puerto Rico
Qatar
Reunion Island
Romania
Russia
Saba
Samoa
Sao Tome and Principe
Saudi Arabia
Senegal
Seychelles
Sierra Leone
Singapore
Sint Maarten
Slovenia
Solomon Islands
Somalia
South Africa
South Georgia & South Sandwich Islands
South Korea
Spain
Spanish Virgin Islands
Sri Lanka
St Barts
St Helena
St Kitts & Nevis
St Lucia
St Martin
St Pierre & Miquelon
St Vincent & the Grenadines
Statia
Subantarctic & Southern Ocean Islands
Sudan
Suriname
Sweden
Syria
Taiwan
Tanzania
Thailand
Tokelau
Tonga
Trinidad & Tobago
Tristan da Cunha
Tunisia
Turkey
Turks & Caicos
Tuvalu
US Virgin Islands
USA
Ukraine
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom
Uruguay
Vanuatu
Venezuela
Vietnam
Wallis and Futuna
Yemen
Add/Update Your Business
If you would like your business to be listed, or the details are wrong, please update your business