Surprisingly, I’ve been missing land recently. The vibrant greens of grasses and trees go underappreciated until their gone. I’ve picked up reading Braiding Sweetgrass, by Dr. Robin Kimmerer, only since arriving on the Cramer. (Thank you Kate for lending it to me!) It’s a book I’ve been meaning to read for a while, especially being a SUNY ESF student.
Ironically, reading about the living world of the terrestrial realm while out at sea has given me some solace. It’s also given me valuable time to reflect on my home, through Kimmerer’s excellent descriptive writing of upstate New York flora and fauna. Feeling homesick, I read Braiding Sweetgrass and feel back home.
Today was the Cramer’s port call in Francis Bay, St. John. Tucked along the Virgin Island’s National Park shoreline, souls on board became souls off board as we poured onto the sandy beaches to disperse. I, unsurprisingly, coaxed many of my fellow shipmates into a strenuous hike- to another hike. We began with a scramble along the rocky coast near the beach to another beach with a campground. This beach connected to the Cinnamon Bay Trail. We started along the trail to find ourselves immersed in a tropical rainforest. Large uniform trees with lizard scale-like bark and dark green succulent leaves surrounded us. Large fanning palms, bay rum, kapok, genip, and west-Indian locust trees built a city where sunlight seldom pierced to the understory. Uphill we climbed until we reached a busy(ish) road, one of the main roads bisecting St. John. We started west along the road until we reached the Reef Bay trail. This trail descended into a valley of beauty.
Near the end of the hike down Reef Bay trail, there is another trail across leading to a freshwater stream and waterfall. This is a historic site with petroglyphs from the native Taino peoples. We ate lunch and enjoyed the jungle before departing back to the Cramer. The hike back was a rather steep downhill stretch, where we stopped at an outdoor beach-bar after descending the mountain to Maho Bay. I refreshed myself with much-needed refreshments.
After ample recuperation, we again scrambled across the rocky zone between beaches and reached the Francis Bay beach, where Mac and I explored a salt pond surrounded by mangrove trees (super cool birds spotted).
I found this port call to be exactly what I needed. Coming right before we go underway again, I wanted to get some cooped-up explorative energy out. Hiking was the perfect way to spend my port day. Tomorrow my watch (B watch) takes the deck in the morning to get us underway again. I’m excited to set the four lowers (Mains’l, Mainstays’l, Forestays’l, and Jib) and hopefully get some good sailing in the Puerto Rico trench on our next stretch! Much love to my family and friends, miss you all and see you soon!
[Evan Sorlie, SUNY-ESF, B Watch]