Thursday, May 4, 2017

YOLO still in STX April 2017

Yes, we're still here in Christiansted, St. Croix, USVI.  The pottery shards above are over 200 years old!  I found them snorkeling off the beach in Frederiksted or digging through dirt around old forts or other inhabited places from the Danish occupation back in the late 1700's to 1800's. These shards are from the 1760-1840 range, according to the research I've done. The shards are called 'chaney', a mix of China+money, a word coined by the children of bygone eras who used to collect the shards and grind them into round shapes and use them as pretend money amongst themselves. Chaney hunting became my favorite pasttime during the last few weeks here. My buddy, Kellie, is addicted to the treasure hunt and would pick me up and drive me all over the island, often with our snorkels, and we'd always come away with handfuls of the stuff.  I love the hunt for treasure!
Karen in front of one of the most beautiful bougainvillea hedges I've ever seen.  All the flowering branches filled the space and the hedge lined an old wealthy plantation property that now belongs to one of the richest persons on the island.  This hedge had the most evenly-filled color of any I've seen and it was full color for a very long frontage.

The aluminum dinghy we now use exclusively.  Our AB inflatable dink blew a huge gash in Dominica and this is now our only transport to land.
 The new inter-island ferry at its birthplace in Cane Bay.
 That's Kellie, my chaney-hunting friend.  She was so much fun to spend time with. She moved here from IA with her hubby on a 3-year work contract, but she has her days free most of the time, so we got to go places all over the island.
 This is the Millennium Memorial that was built for the year 2000. It marks the sun's solstice for 2000 at this, the farthest eastern point in the United States.  The four stone towers point in the four directions of the compass and at the solstice in 2000 the sun shone through a little slit in the center column onto the sundial floor.  The memorial looks like two "M"s, standing for 2000 in Roman numerals and the Millennium Memorial. Pretty clever.  Kellie and I were going to hike down to the beach from here, but our friend warned us that the parking area here is a prime target for theives (it's way out at the end of the island where there are no homes) and we shouldn't go there with anything in the vehicle.  We were told to take nothing of value and leave the windows down as a sign there is nothing of value in the car to avoid break-ins.  We had our snorkel gear in the car and decided to pass on the hike and not take the risk.
 Kellie and Karen at the Millennium Memorial
 This view is a beautiful palette of blues when seen in person.   The view looking back from the east end of the island along the north shore.  That's Buck Island in the distance, a National Marine Park.
 The pretty hedge outside a vast estate.
 You can see how evenly spaced the color is in this bougainvillea hedge.  That's hard to do unless you have some great gardeners. I was impressed.
 This is the caterpillar of fenders that Jason set up for me to use to tie the dinghy alongside YOLO at night if I couldn't lift it into the davits.  Jason had to fly home as his mother was in her last days, but I had to stay on board YOLO.  These fenders kept the dink from banging into the boat when the tide changed.
 One of my hauls of chaney and old glass bottle bottoms.  The top of a jug was given to me by Steve from Gallows Bay Marine. He had lots of chaney and bottles and wanted to get rid of a plastic tub of it so he could reuse the tub; Kellie and I relieved him of the burden and gained some cool stuff. A win-win.
 Another day, another haul of the pottery shards and glass.  The thick old glass looks black, but if you hold it up to the sign, you can see it is really green or brown.
 An old chimney stands alone in a field. Perhaps from an old sugar mill or processing plantation.  Kellie and I thought we might find some chaney here, but the grass and weeds made hunting impossible.  You couldn't see the dirt.
 This is the new inter-island ferry from St. Croix to St. Thomas on its maiden run.  It looks like two catamaran hulls with an airplane fuselage set on top.  A funky design, but it works!  It took the owner over a year to get all the certificates and approvals to actually launch it for passenger traffic.  At $50 each way, it's about 1/2 the price of the seaplane, the only other option between the two Virgin Islands, so this is a welcome addition to the transportation scene.
 A view at Fort Christianvaern, here in Christiansted.  All the government-owned building in the historic area here are the same creamy yellow so you can spot them readily.
 A view from the fort across Gallows Bay towards the Customs dock and Gallows Bay Marine, one of my favorite hangouts.  The owner, Steve, is a hoot, very friendly and generous and grows arugula, basil and rosemary behind his store, which I gathered regularly.  He provides free wifi and free coffee for people he likes (me included).  He sells beer for only $1/can, making it the cheapest on the island and locals hang out here, calling the marine store "the best bar on the island!"  He also sells marine and fishing supplies at prices that beat the marina store nearby.  With his location just outside the gates for the new ferry, he opens early and has been enjoying a huge boom in business with the early ferry traffic and the local fishermen who also head out at the crack of dawn. Good on him! The St. Croix Marina just changed hands and is destined to become a mega-yacht destination, so he may be the best deal in town for many things.
 A view from inside the fort looking westward across the mooring field for local boats.
 Looking out towards where YOLO is anchored off to the Northeast of the point where the fort is located.
 They take good care of these historic buildings here.  This is the inside court of the fort.
 That's Kellie digging through the dirt looking (and finding) chaney near the fort. We'd just been to an exhibit on the historical value of chaney at the fort and decided to look across the creek from the fort just to see.  If I'd been a fort dweller and had broken china to dispose of, I'd probably throw it out across the creek.  Lo and behold, we found tons of the pottery shards there but had to keep a low profile as the fort still maintains that this land is "disputed ownership".  If the gov't owned it, they should clean up the trash and homeless living debris from the land.
 Another haul from snorkeling off the beach by the fort in Frederiksted.  The ships of yore used to anchor off the fort on the west end of the island here.  Now the cruise ships dock here. The china and porcelain and pottery were often brought from Denmark for locals or as ballast in ships. If it was broken, the local inhabitants didn't want to pay the tax on it and threw it overboard instead. Others claim the crockery was tossed overboard and replaced with more valuable rum, sugar and molasses by the ship's owners for the return trip.  Whatever.....lots of old stuff is still found washing ashore onto the beach here.
 The blue and white is the most often found chaney, as the Danes loved their Japanese porcelain designs back in the late 1700's.  Much of the chaney is the whitish 'creamware', but the bluish tinge to the pottery and porcelain makes is part of the group referred to as 'pearlware'. The plain pottery, as in the dull grey-brown and orange/black tiles above is often the old slave pottery.  Not as pretty, but still sought after for its age and historical value.  I'd spend lots more time hunting chaney if I had more time here!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

YOLO in St. Croix, USVI Feb 2017

We left Dominica and headed straight up to St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands.  We skipped all the islands along the normal cruiser's route as we'd been there before and didn't want the hassle of clearing in and out for just a day or two at each place as we island hopped our way home.

We anchored in Gallows Bay at Christianstead and took the dinghy to the boardwalk.  This dinghy provides good advice for all--"Sit Down and Shut Up".

The old Customs House near the fort on the waterfront.
 The Scale House where they used to weigh their goods before shipping them to other parts of the world back in the 17-1800's.
 A double rainbow over the anchorage at Christianstead.  We get a lot of rain here.
Seaplanes come and go daily here, so the anchorage space is limited farther in from the reefy entrance here.

 These are long green tendrils of seaweed that grow on the rocks near the boardwalk here.  They float like long green hair in the lapping water here.
 Fort Christianvaern, built in the 1700's by the Dutch.  Their lasting architecture has been restored here and is quite impressive.
Stacks of old cannonballs inside the fort still.

 This strutting cock seemed to want us all to notice his brilliant colors.
 The boardwalk along the shore in Christianstead.  Note the old sugar mill.  They dot the island here from the days of sugar cane processing and rum making.  Cruzan Rum is still made in the VI.
 We came to the boardwalk to watch a dog parade but soon learned that the paper had misprinted the date and the parade had been the previous week.  New locals, Clare and Kelly had brought their new rescue puppy, Ro, to watch and we ended up yakking for hours.
 Ro was the center of attention with all passersby, but soon got tired and just flopped down for a rest.  We gave her 1st Place for the best dog of the day.
 Old cannons at the fort.  Our boat is way off in the distance there.
 We got a permit to anchor overnight at Buck Island National Marine Park, a few miles off the coast here.  The sandy beaches and clear water were such a nice change and we snorkeled every day for the five days we stayed here.  There is an underwater snorkel trail here at the other end of the island, too.
 Jason stopped to talk to Chris and Deb, members of the yacht club here and they invited us for the Sunday brunch at the yacht club.  We moved YOLO from Buck Island to Teague Bay to join them.
 The old church tower is part of the historic waterfront here.  All the historic buildings are the same yellow color now and owned by the government.
The inside of the Scale House with the old scale in the floor.

YOLO in St. Croix, St. Patrick's Day, 2017

St Patrick's Day is a BIG deal here in St. Croix.  We are not sure why, but it is one of the biggest celebrations here and everyone gets into the party and parade mode here. This leprechaun was dressed in proper togs for the event.
A single old lady walking her bike, covered in green streamers was an entry in the parade here.
 A disturbing aspect of the parade was the contingent of young local girls who followed the massive speaker trucks blasting music at painful decibels.  They bend over and shake their bootie for all to see.  They even get next to each other and mimic doing it doggie style in the streets.  What kind of momma raised these girls??
 Karen in the green sparkly mask a float threw to us.   Strings of beads and candy also winged their way to us, but no booze samples.
 This swashbuckling pirate was dressed to the nines for the parade walk.  Love those boots.
Only one mocko jumbie in this parade, but lots of dancers in groups. The old Dutch architecture makes a nice background just a couple of blocks off the waterfront.
 This colorful phoenix had quite the wingspan.
 One of the few men in costume in this parade.
 Standing in front of a hat store, I wonder if the watermelon rind style is for advertising???
The St. Croix (STX) Jeep Club had one of the biggest entries in the whole parade.
The animal welfare float was decorated like a dog. 
 Moving music was popular in the parade, too.
 The Lost Dog Pub had given out lots of green T-shirts with their name on it and this was their float entry.
 This was the only boat entered in the parade.
Some big green butterflies in tutus.  Oh my.....
 A lot of dark faces in the parade, but when it was done, we moved the block or two down to the waterfront and found it full of mostly Caucasian drinkers and revelers partying on the boardwalk.  This lass had an interesting costume.
 This man was dancing with his capes in front of the Heineken beer barge tied to the boardwalk.
 Guinness, the archetypal Irish brand was in view today, too.  The barge had a live musician who played great music and many instruments.  Kirt Schindler is quite popular here.
 A man in all green and another with the Irish flag draped over him.
 Plenty of green hair and clothes of all sorts.
 Karen on St. Patrick's Day.  We only had three beers each the entire day.  We found the $1 beer vendor and sucked down a few cool ones until they ran out of Presidente and Coors Light.
 The costumes of the dancers made people watching a wonderful pasttime for the day.  It was great weather, too.
 Jason and Karen in Brew STX, keeping in the shade while watching the crowd drinking and dancing.
 A colorful (mostly green) crowd along the boardwalk in Christianstead.
 The man in the green cape was giving away shots of Fireball whiskey, but the bottle had a Go Pro camera attached to it and he captured each person with their mouth wide open.
 The rainbow-winged angel had plenty of feathers in her costume.
 The signpost on a corner of the boardwalk. Pretty colors, but Higgins Lake wasn't on the sign.
 Looking back down the boardwalk towards the music barge and the crowd listening and dancing after the parade.  Notice the old sugar mill in the background.
This little kid was doing hula hoop non-stop without even thinking about it.  The parade bogged down to a stop and he was keeping himself entertained.
 The blow-up leprechaun was resting on this vehicle in the parade.  Can't say they spent lots of money on their float decorations.
 This guy was amazing.  He would get into the hoop and twirl himself around in it.
 A live leprechaun calling out greetings and instructions to the dancers.
 This lady motorcycle rider had a green fish scale outfit on that was like a second skin.  And those gold six-inch stiletto heels must've been hard to shift with.
 These guys were banging on brake drums on their rolling instrument.  At least they looked like they were having fun.
 Big booties doing the shake.
 A two-fisted drinker.  Priorities went to the drinking this day.
 Kids got to sit on this Irish donkey for pictures.  Cute.
 I liked this lady's feathered tricorn pirate hat and the parrot on her shoulder.  It wasn't real.
 This takes all green to a new level.  The green man must've been hot.
 Even the Pope showed up...Oops, it's just another St. Paddy's Day dress up man.
 The guy on top of the Heineken barge looked like he could be dangerous.
We stuck around in St. Croix to get medical stuff attended to. It's the first time we've been able to use our medical insurance in years.  Not nearly as much fun as this St. Patrick's Day celebration!