Today all was well in the world. The weather was good, the sun shone and the local pilot was so excited about our visit that he even came out earlier than scheduled. Later on we realized that it had most likely to do with the fact that the other ship, the Silver Wind, never showed up and our earlier arrival maybe gave him the day off. But whatever the reason was, we were docked by 07.45 and docked with the nose out as we swung on arrival. Thus when we leave tonight at 20.00 hrs. it is a matter of minutes before we are outside again. Ships which sail at 17.00 or 1800 hrs., normally dock sb. side alongside, nose in, and then swing in the harbor when there is still day light. Day light is important as the inner bay is full of anchored yachts and not all of them switch on their anchor lights after dark. They should but there is nobody to police it and yachtie’s are very concerned about conserving power.
Thus we had Charlotte Amalie, the town and the Havensight Shopping Mall all to ourselves. Also St. Thomas suffered from the strong hurricanes of last year and the roof of one of the warehouses, the one right under the bridge, had not been repaired yet and we could see all the liquor still stacked inside. The packaging had faded and deteriorated in the torrential rains and followed by the beating sun but the bottles were still in good shape. I suppose it must still be caught up in insurance negotiations so repairs have not been affected, as the liquor shops should be wealthy enough to be able to absorb the cost. A roof is not so expensive and duty free liquor is dirt cheap. Although it looked like that the top shelves also had two pallets with Johnny Walker Black and Blue label and that might be more expensive. I wonder what they will do with the liquor? Sell it for a discount as “hurricane stained” or have it go down the drain. …………….. that would make Scotland cry!!!
Charlotte Amalie is bit of a strange name for a US port and that has to do with the fact that it is not really a US port or island it all. It used to be Danish in times gone by and named after the wife of the King of Denmark in 1691. Before that it was known as Taphus, which was derived from the Dutch word Tappen or pouring beer. So even 300 years ago the island already made its money from alcohol. In 1917 it was bought by the USA but very little changed as the town remained a free port. It started to become a tourist attraction when Cuba closed in 1961 and American Tourists needed another main focus point for their vacations not too far from home.
I have mentioned liquor a few times but nowadays it is less important than in the 80’s and 90’s. Then the Holland America ships in port used to run a complete tender service to get all the liquor on board that was bought by the guests. Now the emphasis is more on jewelry and electronics. Holland America has been coming to St. Thomas since March 1928 when the good old Veendam nbr. II (Capt. Watze Krol, voyage 44B) made the maiden call during a 14 day West Indies cruise from New York. That is now exactly 90 years ago. A pity it is not a 100 years, as that would have been a real milestone. ………… Maybe that is why we are in port all by ourselves; as a birthday present.
Tonight we will leave at 20.00 hrs. and that is not really an evening call. The company is not that interested in scheduling an evening call here as late at night the place is still not very safe, although it has improved greatly in the last few years. But sailing away after dark is very nice with all the houses against the hill lit up, Blue beards Castle clearly visible and then at the entrance the Morning Star Beach Hotel giving a nice final view of the port.
During the night we will slowly sail towards Gustavia on Saint Barthelemy which is part of France. Thus tomorrow we are in Euro country although they take dollars as well. We have to anchor here and run a tender service as the port is very small. Last time I was there was with the Prinsendam, on arrival it turned out that Mr. Abramovich had parked his yacht on my anchor spot (his yacht had about the same length as the Prinsendam) and just stayed there. The harbor master was quite happy with that as the Prinsendam paid $ 15,000 for the port call and our Russian friend had already guaranteed $ 100,000. It was Boxing Day and he was having breakfast with the rest of the Jet Set. I was not going to pay that much for breakfast, even with 700 guests. So I sailed on to Antigua and made the shop owners happy there. We will see what happens tomorrow as I have no idea where our friend Bram is at the moment.