Over the roar of the crashing waves, a squeal of delight could instantly be heard. The warm sunshine was streaming down as white sea birds followed our course. As the schooner glided on its port side at a 45-degree angle, the multiple passengers (myself included), were hanging on for dear life. Our exclamation was not that of fear, but of sheer excitement and exhilaration. As crystal blue waters passed us on both sides of our Nightwind vessel, we started to right ourselves, and all was calm again.
The Nightwind sailboat excursion was both a relaxing time and a thrilling adventure. Nightwind, located at Sapphire Beach Marina in St Thomas, USVI, is a 57ft sophisticated yet powerful sailboat that can be chartered for a 6 hour day.
Walking up to the schooner on our day of deport, the vessel was much more grandiose than I could have imagined. We boarded the ship with a dozen other passengers and found a seat up by the bow of the boat. We then set sail for the ride of a lifetime. As we left the harbor, the emerald rolling hills of St Croix and St John glistened in the distance. The whitest of white soft, puffy, clouds hung in the sky. The mist of pale, briny ocean spray could be felt on our faces. With a blood red rum punch beverage in my hand, I settled in for a quiet sail.
As we gracefully cut through the deep ocean water, a small island came into view. We anchored and one by one, we entered the fresh water. Some of the passengers dove off the schooner into the crisp, clear water, while others used the ladder. Once in the water, you could see forever. There were multiple colorful fish and even an eel that swam by. We saw two different sand colored stingrays that appeared to be chilling under the ship. We swam under a naturally formed arch over beautiful, untouched reef. We were at Christmas Cove, one of the three stops on this sailing escapade. After an hour at this location, we set sail again, this time for Honeymoon Beach located off St John.
Once we arrived at Honeymoon Beach, we snorkeled, we swam, and we walked on the beach. We drank delicious rum based drinks Captain Rick provided. And we ate. Oh the food, it was delicious. It was quite the spread too. We dined on rotisserie chicken, macaroni salad, potato salad, fresh fruits including pineapple and strawberries, deviled eggs, banana bread, and the most scrumptious triple chocolate cake I’ve ever had. Once we stuffed ourselves, we sailed to our last stop of the day, a small reef just off of Little Saint James Island.
Little Saint James is a small island just west of St John. It was a beautiful location. The sun which had been high in the sky was now starting to set. This was our last snorkeling spot and ended up being the best.
As I donned my snorkel mask and fins, I hit the water to accomplish my quest of the day, seeing a sea turtle. Apparently we came to the right place. The reef off of Little Saint James was swimming with turtles (pun intended). Small green turtle heads poked out of the clear turquoise water every few minutes. I swam over to the location where I had seen a turtle and could visualize a green and brown sea turtle at the bottom of the ocean floor munching on some sea grass. He seemed oblivious to my presence. His giant turtle shell was covered with algae, his powerful flippers cutting through the water with the most grace and elegance. I was mesmerized by this turtle. But alas, it was time to go. We boarded the schooner for our final ride to the marina. At this point the sunlight was dancing off the water as the sun continued to set; we arrived at shore fully relaxed and utterly exhausted.
The wind in our face, the sound of the sails being lifted, the variety of the colorful sea critters, and the salty spray of the clear ocean water made this Nightwind excursion a memory I will never forget. If you are ever in the USVI, check out the Nightwind charter cruise and tell ’em the Baatzs sent you!