Sailing in St John

As part of our vacation in St John, we scheduled a day sail in St John with Sail Safaris which was the highlight of our trip. Here are just a few of the reasons why we can highly recommend Sail Safaris for sailing in St John:Dell Rose - a beautiful 39' sailboat

  • the "Dell Rose" is a 39' Benteau Oceanis 393 that is a beautiful modern Class A ocean sailing yacht that's comfortable, fast, and roomy
  • the skipper (Han) and first mate (Samantha) are knowledgeable about the islands, experienced sailors, and perfect hosts
  • access to the boat is easy and convenient
  • it gave us a different perspective of St John and sailed us to places we wouldn't have gotten to otherwise enjoy
  • it was peaceful, relaxing, and adventurous
  • the beer was cold, the food was good, the snorkeling was excellent, the wind was blowing, and the scenery was stunning
  • the price was competitive and well worth spending those hard earned dollars

In other words we had a blast and hated to see it end.

Sail Safaris offers a variety of St Thomas sailing and water adventures - we signed up for the full day sail on the beautiful and sleek 39' Dell Rose. Han, our skipper, and Samantha, the first mate met us on the beach in the center of Cruz Bay where we piled in their dingy for a minute ride to the Dell Rose moored in the middle of Cruz Bay harbor. Within a few minutes of boarding, the sails were raised and we (Mrs Texas Outside, my brother Scott and his girlfriend, Melanie, and another couple from the east coast) sailed off the mooring buoy to start our fun sail. I've sailed for too many years to count and I don't think I would have risked putting the sails up, trying to manage the fluky harbor winds, and avoid the boats in the small crowded Cruz Bay harbor. I would have started the engine, yelled at the first mate, ignored the passengers barrage of questions, and most likely have clipped another boat or run over a mooring line. Which was just the opposite of what Han and Samantha were able to do - a very impressive start!

Our first mate, Samantha

My first question to Han was "where are we headed?" and the answer was "wherever the wind takes us that looks fun, scenic, and has some good snorkeling." And for an hour or so we sailed north around the west side of St John and enjoyed the deep clear blue Atlantic Ocean, jagged rocky cliffs, beautiful hills dotted with a scattering of big villas (one of which was Kenny Chesney's perched near the peak of a tall hill) and some stunning beaches.

Sailing in St JohnSailing along the coast of St JohnScott & his girl friend exploring Dell Rose

Whistling CayOur first stop was just off the rugged cliffs of Whistling Cay and I bet my brother that Han would not be able to sail to and catch the mooring buoy off of Whistling Cay on the first try - I lost my first Pina Colada! Perfect - this guy is good and knows how to sail and Samanatha doesn't miss snagging the mooring line! Whistling Cay is a Snorkeling in St Thomas small island located just off Mary's Point on St. John. The snorkeling is very good around the rocks and underwater canyons on the western tip of the island because the flow of water through the Fungi Passage and the Narrows attracts fish of many shapes, color and sizes. The underwater boulders, rock formations, canyons, steep grooves, arches and walls, covered with spectacularly colored corals, sponges and tunicate's are fascinating to explore. We also saw an awesome school of menacing black squid.

From Whistling Cay the Caribbean Trade Winds took us downwind farther off the St Thomas shoreline and around and though some smaller cays and rugged rock outcroppings - beautiful. Hans and Samantha sailed between the small Lovango and Congo Cay (which is home to a huge boa constrictor that no one knows how it got there - they don't swim) and some of the most stunning water we have ever seen. Crystal clear and three shades ranging from aqua to deep sky blue. The water was so clear it looked like it was 5 feet deep - I was sure that at any minute I would hear the keel striking coral or getting stuck in the sand. Just off shore was another mooring buoy that I was sure Han would miss this time - wrong. Now I'm down a Pina Colada and a Margarita.

Congo Cay in USVISmall island we sailed bySnorkeling with Sail Safaris

Lunch is servedWe snorkeled off the shore of Lovango Cay in water with 50' to 90' visibility and loaded with coral of various shapes and sizes including stunning purple fan coral and a wide variety of colorful fish. Amazing how hungry and thirsty you get after snorkeling for over 30 minutes. When we climbed back on board Dell Rose, we were handed a cold beer and sat Samantha trimming the sailsdown to a great lunch. After lunch, it was back in the water to explore another section of the rocky shoreline. It just doesn't get much better than sailing with Han and Samantha and from our perspective it is one of the best things to do in St John.

We tacked back north between the islands and headed toward St Thomas where Han and Samantha sailed along the coast, into the stunning Caneel Bay and the resort founded by Laurance Rockefeller, and in and out of some of the other coves and beautiful beaches of St Thomas.

Actually Han had the easy job of giving us some interesting information about the islands, the history, the culture, and more as he casually and confidently steered Dell Rose toward our next destination. Samantha, on the other hand, had was raising and lowering the sails, tending the jib and mainsail, snagging and unhooking the mooring lines, and fetching beers - I got tired just watching her scurry all over the boat. While we sat there enjoying the scenery and sipping a cold beer, Samantha made sure the boat was well trimmed and we were maximizing our speed. When I was sailing my crew was never that efficient and all she did was say "stop yelling at me and telling me what to do." It's hard to find a good and talented first mate - lucky Han!

One of the many beautiful St John beaches Small island near St John

Scott at the helm of Dell RoseI had been dreading the moment that I knew would eventually come - "anyone want to sail Dell Rose?" I knew my brother Scott would immediately jump at the opportunity and try and impress his girlfriend with his sailing skills, which from my perspective are severely lacking, if they were even there in the first place! When he took the helm, I considered putting on a life jacket and my flippers and mask and jumping overboard; calling my life insurance agent to make sure I was covered for accidental drowning or beating my brother unconscious if we ran aground and ran out of beer; or I thought about hiding out in the head below deck which was the wrong place to be if he ran into the sharp coral or somehow sunk the Dell Rose. When I noticed that Han stayed close by, I said a prayer and remained seated with white knuckles!

My brother and I used to race Hobie Cats in California and in several races he ran into the marks, bumped other boats, took risks that were a tad scary, flipped over too many times to count, yelled at his crew, and sailed the wrong course a number of times - always thinking he was winning the race. It wasn't too long before he couldn't find any one that would crew for him more than once or had heard about his reputation and were always busy when he called asking if they wanted to crew for him.

While Scott sailed I kept a hand on the dingy line as it followed us closely! And when he headed straight to a rocky outcropping sipping a cold beer and singing a sailing song, I was happy to see Han suddenly more alert and say "thanks Scott, but I'll take it from here!"

Scott at the helmThe dingy was waiting if Scott sank the boatRocky Outcropping

As we approached the harbor which has some very fluky wind and lots of moored boats, I doubled down and bet Scott that Han would drop the sails and motor between the boats to his mooring. Wow, I couldn't believe it but they sailed in and Samantha caught the mooring line on the first try. Down a Lime 'd Coconut drink. We thanked Han and Samantha for a fantastic St John sail and ask him to drop us off at the Beach Bar so I could pay off my debts.

In addition to a day sail on the Dell Rose, Sail Safaris' offers a number of other adventures:

  • Sail St John with Sail Safarissnorkeling and sailing charters on a high performance catamaran
  • Beach Cats (17' Hobie catamarans) that you can sail on a guided tour to some uninhabited islands, fantastic places to snorkel, and where you can sail onto some hidden beaches
  • day or longer sails to the British Virgin Islands including Joyst Van Dyke which is home to the infamous Foxy's and Soggy Dollar Beach Bars
  • Hobie Wave rentals
  • a variety of snorkel trips as well as sailing lessons

Beach cat sailing with Sail SafarisSail to remote beaches with Sail SafarisSail Safaris Fly Girl catamaran

Bottom line - a fun, informative, and scenic sail with great snorkeling, cold beer, and a perfect skipper and first mate. Can't wait to get back and do it again! If you're planning a trip to St John, give Sail Safaris a call and book a trip with them. It just doesn't get much better than sailing in St John.

About Texas Outside

Texas Outside has been alive & well since 1996 - that's ancient by today's internet standards! Texas Outside was originally developed by Lone Star Internet which is an Austin based web development company with an excellent reputation & client base. In March of 2006, we purchased Texas Outside & made a commitment to add new, exciting, & informative content on Texas outdoor activities & fun things to see & do.

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