De­serted in the Vir­gin Islands

Cou­ple char­ters a cata­ma­ran with cap­tain for a cus­tom­ized Caribbean cruise in the U.S. Vir­gin Islands

Cape Breton Post - - DESTINATIONS - BY STEVE MACNAULL

Stop!” my wife and I shout in uni­son.

We’ve been on the look­out for a de­serted beach on which to romp and there it ap­pears, fronted by turquoise Caribbean wa­ters, topped with glis­ten­ing white sand.

This scene un­folds as we glide into Fran­cis Bay on St. John, one of the U.S. Vir­gin Islands, on a 48-foot-long cata­ma­ran called Smooth Operator cap­tained by Dun­bar St. Cyr. St. Cyr obliges. The sails come down and the cata­ma­ran comes to a halt.

My wife and I grab the standup pad­dle boards and cover the 50 me­tres to shore in no time.

This un­named beach is our own pri­vate cres­cent of bliss for the next hour.

We shoot self­ies, my wife does her best su­per­model strut along the wa­ter’s edge and we lounge, star­ing out at the Caribbean and the cata­ma­ran we’re call­ing home for four days.

We take a mo­ment for quiet re­flec­tion and count how lucky we are to be in the U.S. Vir­gin Islands, the smat­ter­ing of 50 islands, islets and cays cov­er­ing 133 square miles be­tween Puerto Rico and the Bri­tish Vir­gin Islands.

We’re on the most cus­tom­ized of cus­tom hol­i­days with Moor­ings.

Moor­ings has hun­dreds of cata­ma­rans based in ex­otic lo­cales just wait­ing to take you out.

While Smooth Operator has a full kitchen, four en­suite cab­ins and sleeps eight, my wife and I de­cide to be deca­dently self­ish and have the cata­ma­ran to our­selves.

To be fur­ther in­dul­gent, we also hire St. Cyr.

He nav­i­gates and com­mands the sails in wa­ters he knows like the back of his hand.

The most tax­ing things we have to do is de­ter­mine where to go in con­sul­ta­tion with St. Cyr, throw sail-away par­ties for two and re­lax as the cata­ma­ran cuts through the Caribbean.

“Char­ter­ing a Moor­ings cata­ma­ran is for peo­ple who want to take their va­ca­tion to the next level,” says our cap­tain, flash­ing his bril­liant white smile.

“Peo­ple love be­ing on the wa­ter and vis­it­ing islands of their own choos­ing on their own sched­ule.”

Our ad­ven­ture be­gins at Amer­i­can Yacht Har­bor in the lit­tle town of Red­hook on St. Thomas.

St. Cyr is wait­ing for us with Smooth Operator shim­mer­ing in the twi­light.

Af­ter spend­ing the night on the boat sleep­ing like a baby in a gen­tly-rock­ing cra­dle, we de­part Red­hook for Christ­mas Cove on Great St. James is­land.

By co­in­ci­dence, we just hap­pen to have Sade’s 1984 hit, “Smooth Operator,” blar­ing on the sound sys­tem.

It’s only a few miles away, so St. Cyr cranks the winches, rais­ing first the main sail and then the jib, and we zip around Pills­bury Sound tak­ing the long way to Christ­mas Cove at nine knots un­der a north­east wind.

The cove is known for in­cred­i­ble wa­ter clar­ity, so we snorkel and say hello to hun­dreds of trop­i­cal fish.

Hun­gry, we board the boat, have our own lit­tle sail-away party with cham­pagne toast and back­track to Wa­ter Is­land for lunch.

Sade again croons from the speak­ers to the cap­tain’s ap­proval.

He’s sick of hear­ing Mar­gar­i­taville.

Moored in Druif Bay, we take the dinghy in to have li­on­fish at the ap­pro­pri­ately-named dive beach bar, Dinghy’s.

Over the next three days there will be more pad­dle board­ing to de­serted beaches on St. John, snorkelling in Vir­gin Is­land Na­tional Park’s Trunk Bay, swim­ming to a sand­bar at Wa­ter­melon Cay and el­e­gant din­ners on shore at The Grill at Ca­neel Bay Re­sort and Ocean’s in Cruz Bay to the sound of steel drum mu­sic.

The des­ti­na­tions are def­i­nitely amaz­ing.

But what re­ally gets my wife and I psyched is our cata­ma­ran time un­der sail.

It’s heav­enly lay­ing on the rope net at the front of the boat as the Caribbean rushes un­der­neath and the view for­ward is noth­ing but blue wa­ter and azure sky.

It’s ex­hil­a­rat­ing and re­lax­ing at the same time.

We’re ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the ul­ti­mate free­dom on a cata­ma­ran built for eight, but en­joyed just by two on this jour­ney.

A Moor­ings four-cabin cata­ma­ran with cap­tain costs $1,600US per night, which can be shared by three cou­ples trav­el­ling to­gether.

Keen to ex­tend our VIP sta­tus, we ar­rive in style at the lux­u­ri­ous ocean­front RitzCarl­ton Ho­tel St. Thomas via Smooth Operator.

There’s beach and pool time, overnight stay in a suite with Great Bay views and din­ner of black­ened Mahi fish at Bleuwa­ter.

Check out Moor­ings.com and RitzCarl­ton.com.

PHOTO COUR­TESY MOOR­INGS

A cata­ma­ran un­der sail is the best way to see the U.S. Vir­gin Islands.

STEVE MACNAULL PHOTO

Pad­dle board­ing to a de­serted beach in Fran­cis Bay on St. John.

STEVE MACNAULL PHOTO

The cata­ma­ran is at its best un­der two sails.

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