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Captain’s Log: Surprises in St. Croix

Go Sail Virgin Islands

The Basics

The boat: Sweet and Salty, a 2018 FP Helia 44’ Catamaran

Crew: Captain Trevon (instructor) and first mate Stephanie

ASA Students: Ryan and Sam

Courses Completed: ASA 106 (Advanced Coastal Cruising), ASA 114 (Cruising Catamaran), ASA 118 (Docking Endorsement) 

Day 1: Getting Acquainted at the Dive Bar

As anyone who has taken a Go Sail Virgin Island course knows, the process to certification isn’t a rigid one. There’s no lectures, hours of desk work, or mind numbing nights of studying. In fact, your orientation to the course may even start at the bar — like it did for students Ryan and Sam! Captain Trevon and first mate Stephanie greeted Ryan and Sam at the Dive Bar after their arrival from DC to grab some food and discuss the adventure ahead. 

Day 2: Setting Sail 

The crew was eager to get going and by late morning the Sweet and Salty had set sail into the open water. Ryan and Sam started by practicing handling drills under power and then proceeded east through Current Cut. From there, the crew meandered into Pillsbury Sound where they raised the sails and practiced crossing situations into heavy traffic, as well as some tacking. With Ryan at the helm, the group ended the sailing day sailing into Cancel Bay. Ryan and Sam discussed their interest in getting to Gallows Bay on St. Croix the next day so the crew completed the chart work to do so, ate dinner in Cruz Bay, and prepared for the day ahead! 

Day 3: St. Croix Introduces Its First Surprises

The day got off to a humorous start for the crew. Captain Trevon asked Ryan and Sam to practice taking the boat up to the floating pay station. Unaware that the students were doing drills, a couple in a dinghy pulled up. The couple asked if they could bring the crew’s payment envelope up to the pay station since they appeared to be having so much trouble. The group took the encounter in stride and decided it must be time to head out before they gained more of an audience!

With full sails hoisted, the group made their way downwind to the west end of St. John. From there, they set a course of 17M to St. Croix with 12-15kt winds and 2-3ft seas. As Ryan and Sam seemed comfortable and at ease with the sailing trip so far, Captain Trevon decided to give them a few surprises! 

He started with a surprise fire drill. Unphased, Sam and Ryan quickly put out the pretend grease fire on the stove within 32 seconds! Next, Captain Trevon conducted a surprise man overboard (MOB) drill. Sam and Ryan remained calm through the entire situation and passed their surprise tests with flying colors! 

Before Captain Trevon could come up with any more surprises, the crew had reached Gallows Bay on St. Croix. Ryan drove through the channel alongside some sizable traffic and successfully anchored off near the park shore. 

Day 4: Exploring St. Croix

Sam and Ryan loved the Christiansted area and chose to spend their morning exploring along the boardwalk and beyond. In the afternoon, the two students practiced tacking and gybing near Buck Island before heading back to Gallows Bay. The crew enjoyed a salmon dinner aboard and turned in early for an early departure the next morning towards Salt Pond Bay.

Day 5: Big Boats and More Surprises

Captain Trevon started the morning off with a few more surprises for his students. First, he left the chart plotter off intentionally before raising anchor to add a bit of challenge. Then, he added in two more surprise MOB drills. The students continued to perform well and Captain Trevon was delighted when another unexpected test came their way. 

The less than huge “Sweet and Salty” found its way in close crossing situations with both a cruise ship and a large car hauler! The students navigated both situations smoothly and even hailed the car hauler on VHF to confirm he knew their position before they passed each other to the starboard within a couple hundred yards.

The students had impressed Captain Trevon during the eventful morning and pulled into Salt Pond Bay by late morning to enjoy some well deserved peace, quiet…and adventure!

Day 6: Sailing Among the Ferries

Ryan and Sam seemed comfortable with the two close crossing situations the day before, however, for some extra practice the crew headed to Red Hook Bay. Ferry traffic comes from both directions in the area and is a great place to practice maneuvering around other traffic. After both Sam and Ryan were comfortable helming the boat in ferry traffic, the crew set sail for Compass Point Marina for more docking drills. Not only did Sam and Ryan effectively dock the boat in the indoor T dock, they also successfully docked the boat  in a slip along the port side. This helped the students visualize why this is a less desirable side for docking, due to lack of  vision on the helmsman part. 

In the afternoon, the crew sailed to Christmas Cove to enjoy some swimming and pizza. 

Day 7: Saying Goodbye

After plenty of experience docking over the last few days, it was no surprise that Sam pulled perfectly into the fuel dock and Ryan parked perfectly into the slip back at the marina. Trevon and Stephanie said their goodbyes and wished the two sailors good luck with their future sailing adventures!