Our tendency to be sociable when in a marina or anchorage is paying off. One of the things we both do is talk to other cruisers to find out which way they are going. If they happen to be going the same way as us, great. We can look for them again in the next port. If they are going the opposite direction, we can ask about where they have been and what stops we must be sure to make. We are also very happy to trade information about places we have visited in hope we can enhance their experience. The highly recommended guide books we purchased last summer are lacking in detail. Other boaters are proving to be our best source of good information. Usually rum is sipped during the conversation making the exchange that much more enjoyable.
Kathy and Mike, our neighbors at Turtle Cove Marina in Turks and Caicos, told us to visit Maho Bay at St John, USVI. A dot was placed on the chart as a place to stop. Most of St John is a National Park. Park boundaries include the surrounding waters and bays. The coves have mooring buoys provide by the parks services. The buoys protect the ocean floor from being ripped up by anchors. Buoys are maintained to ensure safety and cost $26 per night (daytime is free). Unfortunately, we noticed most of the boaters do not pay. Payment is an honor system. The Parks Department has made it super easy to pay as coves have a floating dock with envelopes and a money drop. Non-payment is extra heartbreaking considering how little money is allocated to the parks services. We planned ahead and made sure we had cash to put in the box. We discovered they also took checks and credit cards. No excuse not to pay!
Maho Bay looks like an island out of the South Pacific. Palm trees line the beach and mountains covered with greenery soar upward as a backdrop. But, this scenery is not the best part. Below the boat is where the adventure begins. The shallow areas are very grassy. Turtles like grass. We hopped back and forth between Maho Bay and Waterlemon Bay for 5 days. Spending as much time as possible in the water we began to look like prunes.
Being able to visit places like this makes me feel very fortunate. Days like today make even the roughest of sailing passages worthwhile. Sometimes we become overwhelmed by the journey and forget about the destination. We learned we like swimming with turtles as much as swimming with dolphins.