Christmas Cove

January 16, 2012

THE problem with spending time at a place called Christmas Cove is that you end up singing that damn Christmas Island song all the freaking time.  Even Becca’s singing it, and she hadn’t the slightest clue what it was before Christmas Cove.

The Cove is great, though.  It’s on Great James Island, a small, deserted island just off the eastern side of St. Thomas.  The cove is bisected by a reef and small cay, and there are a handful of free  moorings on either side of the reef – allegedly, they’re free because the national park service administers them but doesn’t collect fees, as the island isn’t technically in the park.  You’re allowed to stay for up to 10 days on the moorings.  The moorings are inevitably full during the day, but several usually free up by mid-morning when folks move on, or in late afternoon when the day-trippers return home.  There’s also room to anchor both beside and behind the moorings.  The island protects the cove from most of the ocean swell and breaks the wind a bit, but the ferry wakes can be a bit rolly during the day; it’s not the calmest harbor, but sure beats Caneel Bay, where we rocked and rolled incessantly in the north swell and ferry wakes.

The snorkelling here is fantastic.  The water is incredibly clear, as there’s no development on the island, and there’s a shelf running parallel to the shore under which schools of hide.  We’ve seen several eagle rays, impressive large black rays with white spots.  While they are magnificent under water, their wings gracefully flapping as they glide along under you, the most dramatic sighting was from the boat, when we saw one of them launch itself out of the water, wings curved up, and flop back with a great splash.  We have spotted several large sea turtles from the boat as well, though none under water.  There’s a school of little spotted fish under the boat that have that odd pyramidal shape, with their mouth at the top of the pyramid, like puffer fish.  They gave Becca the willies until we reassured her by pulling out the marine fish guide and identifying them as smooth trunkfish.   Oh, and by informing her that puffer fish are only poisonous to eat.  Philip and Becca also spied cuttlefish and a small moray eel.

We came here to get work done, though it’s progressed sporadically at best.   Philip seems to have gotten the watermaker to work, but for some reason, it’s not filling the tank; we’re still diagnosing.  Becca has been working on finishing the liquor shelf she built in the bilge by expoying the plywood.  I’ve put in a great deal of time on the dodger top: after several afternoons of sewing in a hot boat, I expect to finish it today.  Finally!  (By the time I post this, I should have snazzy pictures of the finished product.)

The best part of Christmas Cove, though, has been spending time with Hannah and Paddy, who treated us to not one but two delicious dinners on their boat, insisting on hosting as a thank-you for my dramatic rescue of Paddy on our first day here.  Who would have thought that we could have made such dear friends through the blog?