Keen competition, top-notch race organization, rum-and-reggae parties, and the unbeatable attraction of winning a Rolex entice sailors to race in the International Rolex Regatta each year. But when racing’s done, you can relax and enjoy:
A Sampling of Anchorages
Christmas Cove, St. James Island:
Anchored along the shores of this Robinson Crusoe-like island, every day seems like a holiday. Sailing the short distance across Cowpet Bay from the St. Thomas Yacht Club, look for little Fish Cay in the middle of Christmas cove (N.O.S. Chart #25647). Approach and anchor either to the north or south of Fish Cay where there’s good holding ground, a sandy bottom, and about 15′ depth of water. It’s too shallow to sail between the island and Cay. When anchoring north, go far enough east toward Great St. James Island to steer clear of the current that runs through Current Cut. Though the beach is gravel, snorkeling is great, especially when the seas are calm enough to permit exploration around Little St. James and Dog Island.
Secret Harbor, St. Thomas:
Known also as Nazareth Bay (N.O.S. Chart #25647), most sailors don’t notice this serene anchorage, hence the name “secret”. When approaching from Christmas Cove, sail towards the left of the white buildings of the Secret Harbour Beach Resort. There is good anchorage in the west side of the bay, in about 20 feet of water – steer clear of the east side of the bay which is filled with coral heads. Moorings are private. You can’t bring your boat into the hotel dock since the area is very shallow, but do dinghy into the dock for a swim at the beach and a meal at the café. A dive shop is also located here.
Caneel Bay, St. John:
Anchoring in Caneel Bay is the best way to see Cruz Bay, St. John’s largest town. Cruz Bay has that back-to-the-1960s feel that is embodied in art galleries, comfortable clothes shops & veggie restaurants, plus plenty of new Millennium services. Caneel Bay is within the Virgin Islands National Park waters, so park rules apply when sailors are in this area. When entering, don’t anchor in the channel, don’t go inside the line of buoys off the swim beach and don’t stop in the path of large cruisers coming in to tie up at the Caneel Bay Resort’s dock. Tying up at the dock is not allowed, but bringing in a dinghy is OK. Anchor, don’t moor, since all moorings are for hotel boats only. Use N.O.S. Chart #25647 or #25641.
History and nature are the two words to describe the best of sightseeing on St. Thomas. Step back in time in downtown Charlotte Amalie—the town was founded by the Danes in the late 1600s and is full of colonial era architecture. Visitors can enjoy a historic walking tour of Blackbeard’s Hill, full of pirate-era charm. For a panoramic view, visit Mountain Top where you can enjoy a banana daiquiri and look out over the Atlantic Ocean to the north and British Virgin Islands to the west.
Back at the water level, see marine life including sharks and stingrays, up close at the Coral World Ocean Park.
Shopping & Dining
For necessities, St. Thomas provides a number of marine-related businesses from sail and engine repair to parts replacement. There are also several places to provision, bank, fuel, rent cars and more.
On the fun side, St. Thomas is known as the shopping Mecca of the Caribbean for good reason. Not only are there fine shops island-wide—on Main Street at the Charlotte Amalie waterfront, the new Yacht Haven Grande, Havensight Mall, Tutu Park Mall, and Red Hook—but the Virgin Islands are duty-free ports. Look for good buys on cameras, electronics, jewelry, and liquor.
Delicious dining ranges from casual to white tablecloth and includes American, barbecue, seafood, Mexican, German, Italian and eclectic. During Rolex, as well as before and after, do make reservations. This time of year is prime tourist season.