Buck Island Bonanza

Trip Start Mar 30, 2007
Trip End Apr 28, 2007

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Friday, April 13, 2007

We came into town fairly early this morning to go to the post office. A very nice man was in there posting some fishing rods ( why and where I cannot say ) anyway he later turned out to be the captain of the katamaran that was to take me out to buck island, where they say the snorkelling is amazing. I went to the shop with B and E and paid the rest of my fare and then we went down to the wharf, where there is a webcam, phoned hartley, and spent the next few minutes messing around in front of the webcam. B and E are past masters at this and so we struck poses that made it look like we were dancing to hartley !
Then I went to board the katamaran, before you get on they make you take your shoes off, no explanation , no nothing. So being the sheep that I am I did it without question, stepped on the Kat and seered my feet ! Sit anywhere they said so I did. ' Ma'am you might not want to sit there as the sail might be swinging that way ' Marvellous, scorched feet and the impending danger of being cracked around the nut with the boom. And people do this for fun?!! This entry is really for Sam but desparate housewives everywhere to read on, it would definately be advisable for Hartley to turn the other way. So here goes -  well if there had been aline up of captains to choose from I would have chosen 'Austen ', With the complete sea dog tan, sparkling white all american smile, wrap around sunglasses and wait for it, and I do believe this is the ' piece de resistance' - adorning the ankles that reside above his amazing monkey feet are plaited leather anklets - one on each foot! That doesn't sound good to you ? Well , I can tell you it's really good ! We won't mention the absolutely stunning blond bird that is his sidekick. Not only is she amazingly good looking, she happens to be very nice as well. Believe me I spent 4 long hours looking for a flaw and never found one. What is horrifying to me is I saw a photo of myself just today and that then put her up into the angelic realms !! And I relly don't like that in a person. It's just plain greedy having good looks nad a nice personality!
It took about an hour to sail across to Buck  Island , skirting along the northern shore of St. Croix. The kat is sialed right up to the shore and a kind of step ladder is put out for you to get off .  When I say the kat was taken right up to the shore it was actually 6, critical feet, short, so you got off in about 3 ft of water, meaning you absolutely HAD to get wet right from the get go. ' For goodness sake ', I hear you all cry ' You're on a snorkelling trip , of coursr you're going to get wet ' But the only reason you are able to say that is bevause you are sitting smugly in your lives back home and I'm having to negotiate my way of the kat with snorkel, mask and fins ( notice I don't say flippers any more, that's so european ! ) and the only way I can think of doing it ( on my own remember ) is by putting it in my rucksack. Brilliant brainwave on the face of it, but not so brilliant when you're stepping into the aforementioned 3 ft of water ! LUCKILY I remembered just in the nick of time, and hitched it up just exactly like I knew what I was doing, and hopefully keeping the shameful truth of my total water activity inadequacy right away from the lovely accomplished Asten ! The beach we were dropped of on was the one featured at the end of the Shawshank Redemption where he's walking along in his paradise. On the film it says it's somewhere else but on the credits Buck Island St.Croix is credited. We are left on this beach for around 40 mins, to try out our snorkel gear, before sailing to the other end of the island to snorkel amoung coral  reefs. I was done practising after about 5 mins as there were no fish to see AT ALL. Beautiful clear calm waters, but, NO FISH! ' Great trip this is going to be' I thought. But honestly speaking, taking the kat across was just so idyllic, that even if there hadn't been a single fish it wouldn't have mattered. So we sailed to the other end of the islandand the boat was anchored in the open water, fairly close to the shore. No beach here, just snorkelling straight off the back of the boat.. The gorgeous girl, I believe she may have been called Bailey, led us on a trail around the reef, and I know I am really using up my superlative type credits but the coral was truely AMAZING. Really big, not that colourful but so BIG. I realised that the coral I'd seen in the past was only chicken feed , this was the real McCoy. There was even one that swished in the surf, something that I was always in awe of when Jacques Cousteau went diving on the TV when  I was a child.Some of these corals were 6 ft tall or round or whatever. They could even have been bigger because you can lose perspective in the water. There weren't huge shoals of fish, but the ones that were there were pretty and fairly big and weren't all the usual suspects ie. the bluey flat ones or the yellow striped ones. My favourite was the parrot fish, which was every colour under the sun, but not in a mad parrot kind of way, more of a subtle change in the sunlight produced more colurs , like, ' ooh look theres red on it , ooh look I can see orange' etc but it was mainly an amazing bluey purple irredescant ( lot of trouble trying to spell that , been typing a few hours now !! )  colour. And it swam by sending out little fins, like fans, horizontally from it's body. Iwas having great fun watching it and swimming along with it, it was probably 6 ft below me, when it looked directly at me and gave me a really toothy grin. BIG TEETH. I still thought it ws pretty, but now thoughts were running through my head about whether it was carniverous or not, and that surely it didn't have teeth like that just so that it could give tourists starry smiles, and whether they would use tehm to take an inquisitive, probably quite substantial ( they were big teeth ) nibble from unsuspecting tourist snorkellers?! So there I left my rainbow friend, with all those questins hanging in the air, and swam back to the kat. When I looked on , most of the others were alrealy on board. I got on and again much to my surprise did not make an absolute arse of myself ! ( only the trip home to go and I will have executed an 'adventure tour' with my integrity intact when it could so easily have turned into ' The Jackie Hartley Circus Time' Rad dad dada dada da da daa da( <- two fat ladies and a big banana ) ( Hartley maybe the only person who understnds that reference so please feel free to phone him day or night and ask for an explanation! ) Anyway as I'm settling myself into my place on the kat, the last couple get on and Asten says that was good because he was just about to blow the conch shell ( everyone remember how to say 'conch' ? ), our signal to come aboard. So that means I have been snorkelling for a full hour. Am very proud of myself. On the way back a bloke from New Jersey got talking to me and it was a wierd thing, but all the big concerts that he's been to mainly at the JFK Stadium in New York I had seen in London. Right from Pink Floyd Animals tour to The Who last year! However it was because of him that I was distracted from my sunburn vigilance ( on the way to the island I had looked A bit like ' White lady, she burn ' with my muslin kaftan, long shorts and sarong over the rest of my legs while the ENTIRE boat was in swimming costumes! But  I hate burning ) and by the time he had finished talking to me I was burnt and I was sitting in the shade of the sail! But panic not, dear reader, it was not severe. It was my face ( very red nose ) half my chest ( typical - so i'll have one brown boob , one white boob. But in this cosmopolitan age it shouldn't matter ! ) and wait for it - my left wrist !
We had a slow ride back to , and Ev was at the dockside to meet me when I got back. We went home via their local shop that is owned by a mad woman from Trinidad, she was kind of a carribean style Whoopi Goldberg. When we got back I went straight into my house to get ready for my big night out at ' Cheeseburgers in Paradise'. We were going with B & E's friend Hildegard who is South African. There were many things on the menu there, but it only seemed polite to have a burger and some fries with it ( Cheeseburgers in pradise initially only served burgers and crisps, but the people wanted fries, so about a year ago, much to the delight of everyone, a fryer was put in, so now on St.croix you can have burger and fries. It is only right and proper! Hildegard had veggie burger and Bob had meatburger ( ! I'm afraid I don't do specifics on meat ! ) and Ev had the biggest plate of machos you have ever seen. To her credit ' Built like a bird, eats like a bird ' Woman ploughedthrough a good proportion of them, but she was very careful to only eat the nachos with loads of cheese on them and carefully swerve any of the nasty salad stuff they had put all over it! We all had desserts, I had Cruzan Lime Pie ( Sonia and Oliver - not a patch on yours ) and everyone else had whippie ice-cream, which also seems to be a big deal here. There was definately more than the usual amount of excitement over having some soft ice-cream ! Bob instantly regressed to a seven year old boy, eyes sparkling with expectation as he gave the waitress his order, Whippie is his favourite and he was going to have it just how he liked it! It was a really nice evening and at one point the conversation was about accents and it was really fascinating to have 3 english speaking people from wildly different parts of the world, really only  their language in common, but even so we must have spent a good  hour talking about the HUGE variations in one language. Then home to bed at the ungodly hour of ........9 o'clock!!
Before I sign off I must tell you this : On the hill opposite B & E is a mock castle, apparently owned by a Hungarian countess. There is a dispute over whether she bought the title or married into it (Her name is, Evlyn tells me as she looks over my shoulder, Nadia Farber, which is something we should be really impressed by because they have Farberware like we have Pyrex so they are minted and she married into the family ). She is now elderly  and has a companion that is either her friend her son or her lover , or as the best gossip goes, ALL THREE !! Me and Ev have been talking about how to get into the castle, apparently , like the lord of the manor , she has social functions to which she invites the local worthies. Bob and Ev are not worthy! But it turns out Hildegard is! And she has benn up to the castle 2 weeks ago for a party, which despite the very lovely Hildegard trying to talk it down, so that we didn't just explode with pure jealousy, sounded absolutely fabulous! The whole place has been done out in white and gold ( how else would you kit out a castle  ), and there was great food. It sounds like the countess has a  'Great Hall ' as you would in a stately home or manor house, in which she throws her parties. The other hot gossip was that the richest man on the island ( and there is a lot of money on the island ) , (as Ev would say ' He is richer than God ! ) was there. He made his money thru premium number porn lines which we, of course, don't approve of, but are absolutely thrilled by! Anyway ta ta for now.
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