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Staving Off Starvation

Staving Off Starvation in St John

My husband Matt and I love adventure travel. But for our mid-September wedding anniversary, we keep our plans decidedly low key. We typically spend a long weekend at my family’s cottage in the midwestern part of the U.S. We sleep late, take long walks and cook indulgent meals while sipping lots of wine. Certainly our most memorable wedding anniversary to date occurred when Matt and I were living on Tortola and decided to celebrate our eighth anniversary by sailing around St John. Though our St John “circumnavigation” was not a particularly ambitious itinerary for us (a total of 35 miles in 5 days), it was quite ambitious by the standards of our wedding anniversary getaways.

St John is a mere one nautical mile from Tortola at its closest point, yet we rarely went to St John. There’s so much incredible cruising right in the BVI, plus St John’s anchorages can be quite crowded in high season—particularly the anchorages on the island’s north side, closest to the BVI. And, of course, one has to clear immigration and customs on both sides. However, St John’s hiking trails are among the best in the Caribbean, and friends had raved about the island’s southern anchorages, which we had never visited.

While Matt prepared our sailboat at Nanny Cay, I did the provisioning. Simple, yet luxurious is my mindset when I shop for our annual anniversary weekend, and I filled my grocery cart with specialty ingredients, including: steak, excellent cheeses, fresh ingredients for salads, and wine and champagne. I also pulled wahoo (which I had caught) from my freezer and packed in-season star fruit and limes from our Tortola rental property.We spent our first night moored in Caneel Bay, a short dinghy ride from Cruz Bay and our favourite USVI bar, Woody’s. We had our fix of fried food and fruity drinks at Woody’s always-popular happy hour. The next morning we were up bright and early—waking to the boat rolling from the onslaught of morning ferry traffic between St Thomas and St John. From Caneel we sailed to Little Lameshur Bay. Conditions were ideal for visiting the southern shore of St John, as the very light southeasterly breeze—while not ideal for sailing—made for comfortable anchorages. To our surprise, we were the only boat in the anchorage. We enjoyed a leisurely pre-dinner swim, then fired up our grill and ate a delicious meal of Fish Tacos (BVI P&Y August 2009), yellow rice, and a tomato, corn and avocado salad. We capped the evening with stargazing on the foredeck.

Our next stop was Salt Pond Bay, which we chose for its proximity to great hiking, specifically the Ram’s Head trail. More than half of St John’s land is designated a national park, and dozens of excellent hiking trails crisscross the island. I’ve hiked throughout the Eastern Caribbean, yet Ram’s Head remains one of my most memorable hikes, with its striking vistas and sheer dropoff at the top. After working up an appetite, we returned to our boat for a leisurely brunch of Cinnamon Crepes with Bananas, Brown Sugar and Crème Fraîche, exactly the type of food we like on our anniversary weekend: indulgent, but not too complicated, and certainly not something we make on a daily basis. Once again, we spent the afternoon napping and snorkeling in a bay we had to ourselves.

The next morning we continued sailing counterclockwise around St John until we reached Watermelon Cay. We had picked up moorings in this north coast anchorage numerous times, using it as our “staging ground” prior to entering the BVI. That is, we would arrive at Watermelon Cay late afternoon and depart at 7 the next morning to clear customs in Sopers Hole. This time, we reserved an entire day for snorkeling, hiking and exploring via dinghy. In the evening we sipped rum cocktails and dined on grilled steak and Island Coleslaw (BVI P&Y December 2009) as we savoured the final night of our trip. For the third peaceful night in a row, we were the lone boat in our anchorage.

September, the lowest of the low season in the Virgin Islands, seemed an ideal time for a relaxing anniversary trip cruising in St John. To our delight, that’s exactly what we found.



Cinnamon Crepes with Bananas, Brown Sugar and Crème Fraîche
Crème fraîche is a popular ingredient in French cooking. Find it at Rite Way or the French Deli. Sour cream can be used instead, although it is not as rich as crème fraîche.


3/8 c flour
1/2 c whole milk
2 Tbl sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 egg
2 medium bananas, sliced thinly
6 Tbl crème fraîche
2 Tbl brown sugar

1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a blender or beat well by hand. Ideally, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or overnight.
2. Heat a small non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with a bit of butter. Pour 1/4 of the batter into the pan and quickly swirl the batter to evenly cover the pan. Cook for about 1 minute, then turn the crepe over and cook for another 30 seconds. Remove from pan, then cook 3 more crepes in the same manner.
3.Divide bananas, crème fraîche and brown sugar among 4 crepes. Serves 2.

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