We’ve been hanging out in the St. Thomas area for a while, including Red Hook, Christmas Cove, and Charlotte Amalie (the big city- pronounced: Uh-mall-yuh) , and Crown Bay Marina. First, we were doing boat-living chores and things getting ready for a week-long visit from my parents. Then we came back for their departure and more boat-living-type stuff. All-in-all, I’ve enjoyed the Charlotte Amalie harbor. There’s lots to see and do. I was surprised to find out that most everything around the harbor shuts down at 5:00pm, but that suits us just fine! We did most of the chore-type stuff from the eastern side of the harbor, tying our dinghy to the dinghy dock that services Yacht Haven Grande Marina, right by the Cruise ships docked at the West Indian Company Dock or, sometimes, tied to the dinghy dock at Crown Bay Marina much further west . Sometimes we could take care of business by foot. Other times, we used the $1 “Safaris” or the $1 VI Tran buses. We did most of the tourist/sightseeing things from the northern side of the harbor, tying our dinghy up to the public landing right by the U.S Coast Guard Station. This is what I call the historical district. That may be what it’s really called . This is where the cruise ship passengers shop for jewelry and souvenirs, but it is very interesting to me because all the shops and restaurants are in beautiful centuries old buildings.
SOME ST. THOMAS HIGHLIGHTS:
Pretty scenes, of course, that crop up everywhere in the Caribbean
Sunday service at Nisky Moravian Church not far from Crown Bay Marina-This photo is a view from outside through a shuttered glass window(reflecting trees) looking into the building and through to the stain-glassed window on the other side.
Lunch in Charlotte Amalie at Tap & Still with one of Mark’s high school classmates, Brian Ostrander, and his wife, Christie—They live here in on St. Thomas.
Watching the comings and goings of the cruise ships– this one is anchored since there are 3 others tied up to the West Indian Company Dock. Shuttles carried people back and forth to the historic district all day.
A cruise ship employee took this picture of us as we were walking through the cruise ship dock area to get to lunch with the Ostranders. He thought we were passengers, and we didn’t correct him .
Three ships taking turns leaving the harbor
The dinghy dock we used to visit the east side of the harbor was right next to the cruise ships docked at the West Indiana Company Dock!
When we first entered the Charlotte Amalie harbor we came through East Gregerie Channel between Water Island-to the west, and Hassel Island-to the east. Then we curved east and went through a narrow cut between St. Thomas and Hassel Island. I was intrigued by the ruin that I saw on Hassel Island at that point. I was glad we got to do some sightseeing and hiking on this island over a couple of days to learn all about the history of that ruin and others on Hassel Island.
Fortunately, for us, we met Vince Palancia, Lead Hassel Island Guide, of The St. Thomas Historical Trust soon after we set foot on the island on our first day of touring. He was happy to take time out from his mowing to answer any questions we had. I imagine he was gratified to know someone was benefitting from his hard work on this historical site! We made sure we thanked him!
Following, are a few more pictures from Hassel Island:
View back toward St. Thomas from Hassel Island
Creque (pronounced: Creaky) Marine Railway
Looking towards Water Island, a seaplane buzzing past a tour catamaran loaded with passengers coming in for a landing
Hiking onward and upward
Looking west past Water Island to Crown Bay—2 cruise ships there
Looking east towards Charlotte Amalie—4 cruise ships there!
Nancy Lu is right behind the big, dark-colored, pirate-looking sailboat
Fort Willoughby Garrison House
Prince Frederik’s Battery, Fort Willoughby
Turks Head Cacti
Hiking even higher—Cowell’s Battery
I’m using every ounce of editorial skill that I can muster not to include 50 more pictures and explanations of the history that we learned. If you’re interested, there’s enough info. here to start you on a Google search. I really enjoyed our self guided tour of Hassel Island!
The most fun and interesting discovery on Hassel Island came from some boat-business we had to do, instead of sight seeing. We had a local sail maker, Manfred Dettrich, cut down the size of our storm jib. He lives and has his shop in a ruin of a great house that he has preserved just enough to be useful to him. For example, he has used sail cloth to serve as a roof. The place is a FEAST for the eyes.
Having the storm sail cut down in size was, hopefully, the last step necessary in implementing Mark’s idea for our improved rig for sailing to windward. We tried his idea out with the soft shackles that he made as we sailed to St. Thomas from Culebra. That’s when he found out that our storm sail is just to large to work with this sail plan.
On the way from Culebra to St. Thomas
After testing it out after we got back to Nancy Lu from Manfred’s shop on Hassel Island, Mark thinks it’s going to be perfect! An added bonus, in Mark’s opinion: Manfred, removed the big florescent orange square that was on the storm sail.
ANYWAY, it has taken even more self control than before to only post a fraction of the pictures of Manfred’s shop/ home and grounds!!
Here they are:
19th Century Cistern with artistic embellishments made by Manfred
Well hello, Mr. Peacock—you’re pretty!
There’s sooo much to look at!
The sail maker at work in his ruin-turned-shop
You can see the roof fashioned of sailcloth.
Mark is helping Manfred flake (fold) the sail.
Mr. Dittrich invited me to have a look in his living quarters. His artistic touch is everywhere!
Hello, Mr. Parrot!
This is the view of the Charlotte Amalie harbor from Manfred’s “back yard”.
WHAT?!?! How did a piano get there?
Closing the transaction
Happy, and ready to try it out!
I can’t quit taking pictures!
I don’t know what stone ruin those vines are covering. The vine reminds me of Kudzu from the American-south.
Believe me, I had MANY more pictures!! I couldn’t get enough of Manfred Dittrich, Sail maker’s, place! It reminded me of my Papaw.
We sailed over to Christmas Cove for a couple of days so we had access by dinghy to Red Hook to do some provisioning before my parent’s got there and enjoy the lack of hustle and bustle that is Charlotte Amalie.
This is a dinghy-tour-group getting ready to go snorkeling…we had to save our snorkeling for another day…work to do!
After a couple of days, we sailed back over to the Charlotte Amalie area where we had made arrangements to pick up my parents…more about that in my next post!
After Mama and Daddy left, I was a bit melancholy which I expected, but we enjoyed a visit with one of the first cruisers that we met in The Bahamas in 2011, Bill and Laurie on S/V Manana, and the historic district of Charlotte Amalie for a few of days.
I really enjoyed Blackbeard’s Castle Historic Walking Tour. I would recommend it at $12.50 per person, kids free! It really has nothing to do with Blackbeard other than a fun, dramatic talk about him at the beginning of the self guided tour—there’s no Blackbeard’s Castle (I know, I don’t get it, either), but the tour DOES include: 1) a walk up the spiral steps of the 17th century Danish look-out tower, which protected the harbor as well as Fort Christian below 2) a dip (for as long as you like) in two swimming pools up by the tower (kids would love that) 3) a walk-through at your leisure of three historic 19th century colonial homes with docents at the ready to answer any questions and 4) a walk down the “99 steps”, just one of the “step streets” that offered access in the old days to different levels of the mountainside city.
OK, THE PICTURES:
We skipped the talk so we could get up the tower without the wait in line, savvy, huh!
View to east from the tower—two of the cruise ships at the West Indian Company Dock
View to the west towards Crown Bay—more cruise ships
I wanted to get my money’s worth so I took a dip in the swimming pool.
The first historic home we visited
One of the most beautiful things about this house was the original mahogany floors.
More of Villa Notman
…Too much interesting history to write in my blog….
…Reminded me of Grandmama, Mammaw and the project I did while we were home during hurricane season.
The docent at Haagensen house told me that they let a homeless man live in this building that is part of an archeological dig next door to Haagensen House. AND Mr. Haagensen built the West Indian Company Dock in the 1800s—the cruise ship dock of today!
Mark visited with one of the docents while I ran back up the steps to go look at an outdoor kitchen that I had missed!
The stones behind this waterfall at the Hotel 1829 (named after the year it was built) are amber stones from all over the world.
The “99 Steps” go by the Hotel 1829. There are really 103 steps. They are an example of “Step Streets” built from ballast in Danish ships way back when.
We ended our outing with a treat from Bumpa’s and some people watching.
Other sights we saw on other days:
We mailed a birthday card to our nephew and our first-born and a little goodie for our grandbaby from this historic building that houses the post office.
Danish Fort Christian
We’re moored in Caneel Bay at St. John, now, looking forward to spending the day with our friends Ronald and Sandra from S/V Sandra Louise. They’ve gotten jobs and have been here since we left St. John last June. We were planning on getting together yesterday, but it was blowing like stink, so we couldn’t make the dinghy trip around to Cruz Bay to meet them. That’s how I got this post finished—a blustery day well spent!
2 thoughts on “ST. THOMAS TIMES—JANUARY 26 TO FEBRUARY 19…MORE OR LESS”
Y’all’ve posted some pretty amazing stuff over the years, but those photos and observations about [and from] the Manfred Dittrich sail shop are my favorites so far. That guy must be one cool character…
Wow! St. Thomas and St. John must be very very different than when we sailed thru. No cruise ships and few tourists then. All the islands were very remote then. Looks like they are doing a pretty good job handling the ships. I remember visiting several of the old places.They were open to just going in and we would wonder how they could keep someone from just coming and taking things. We were the only ones at everything we visited. I am thrilled they preserved those houses and such. It is hard to keep the jungle and humidity from just erasing everything. It was quite interesting to see your pics. It made me think of the two lifestyles of your sail worker and his creativity today and the old house and such that you showed us. Both centuries you captured, real adventurers and creative in surviving on talent and hard work. The piano skeleton was beckoning to someone to use it well.
I have decided I must wear a hat much more in the garden in the sun. I had to take a cancer off the top of my head and…lo and behold, Jean calls and she has the exact looking same thing and will be off to the dermatologist this week and likely surgery like me! Just way to twinzy! My suggestion to Mark…Find trendy, fetching hat like Kathy does with a wide brim to wear more often…Or you will be like Dale, paying lots to dermatologists ! 🙂 C