This must be heaven. Just 5 miles from Christiansted and its like another planet. Buck Island is part of the National Park system and closes at sunset. For three of the four nights we were anchored off West Beach we were the only boat there. Local boats would come over for the day, half day, a couple of hours, but when the sun set, we were on our own. Aahhhh...
Quickly we fell into a rhythm. In the mornings we set out by dinghy for the lagoon moorings on the east side of the island. The snorkeling was wonderful, but the reef had been destroyed in several places -- either by storms, or bleaching, or both. Huge stands of coral on the eastern reef were broken. Still lots of fish though, especially huge schools of blue tangs and surgeonfish, the biggest parrotfish we'd ever seen, and very menacing barracuda. More about them later.
After exploring the east, we moved around to the moorings on the north side and went 'into the blue' -- the deeper water. There the coral seemed healthier with interesting sculptural patterns, creating windows to swim through from the shallow to the deep. One morning we turned just as a large stingray was headed out to sea and John got some wonderful photos. Another day as we were headed out, a shark watched us as it basked on the sand under a rock ledge. We were safe, but scared. But maybe not as unsettled as when we swam back to our dinghy and getting into the boat, the handle of the camera separated from the body, and our shiny metal camera went down to the bottom. It was only 12-15 feet down, so we were able to recover it, but not before one large, evil-looking barracuda became very interested in it as well!
Afternoons we would kayak or read, or do nothing. One day we hiked up to the top of the island for the excellent views. Everywhere we looked, gorgeous water. How could anyone ever leave here?
By the second day we were noticing who came to the anchorage. Several folks came every day. We met the Ferris brothers who sailed out each afternoon. Tom and Charlie invited us onboard and we talked and talked. They were snowbirds who lived in St. Croix half the year, then returned to the mainland (Tom to MN and Charlie to Chevy Chase, MD (small world...)) Next day they came back (with Wendy, Charlie's wife) and we had them on Anhinga. Another wonderful lazy afternoon of conversation in the beautiful Buck Island breeze. They told us they had never met anyone who lived on a boat before and were interested in every aspect of this strange life we've chosen. After almost two years onboard we had forgotten how foreign this all could seem to most of the world.
Buck Island, St. Croix: 17d47.155'N 64d37.716'W