With a week to kill before the Flemmings arrived, we decided to take a run down to St Croix (pronounced Saint Croy) with the Marsdens on 4 Coconuts. We had a great 30nm sail and arrived in Christiansted in the late afternoon to discover that the island was celebrating St Patrick’s day with a parade the following morning. Since the island was originally settled by the Danes and sold to the Americans in 1917, I am not sure where the Irish connection was, but this parade is famous throughout the islands and is almost a mini Carnival. As Alex observed, it seemed like just another excuse for adults to dress up in funny costumes and get drunk in the middle of the day….
The anchorage at Christiansted was not very comfortable so we sailed around to the open roadstead at Frederiksted, which was the best-kept secret in the islands. A ten-mile long white sand beach, good docks, and a quaint town was a pleasant change from the chaos of the capital.
We rented a car to tour the island and immediately headed for the Cruzan Rum plantation. Our guide was one of the perkiest islanders we have met and you three were continually high-fiving each other when you would answer her questions. Cruzan was purchased by Jim Beam in Kentucky and all of the bottling and distribution is now done in the US, and the finished product is shipped back to the Caribbean for sale; similar to the mercantile system, but in reverse. When we visited the Makers Mark distillery in Kentucky we had learned that in the production of Bourbon, they could only use the oak barrels once and then they were shipped to the Caribbean for rum production, which could reuse the barrels up to five more times. These were barrels that we saw in St Croix.
This out of the way island had not been on our radar, and only through circumstance did we discover this little gem.