Let Sailing Take You Away


A Day on the Heron, St. John, USVI

First off let me say that Maho Bay beach is truly beautiful in the early hours of the day when there are only a very few people there. This is a wonderful way to start a morning; even if you are not lucky enough to have booked a day sail on the 65-foot Schooner Heron. The John Alden designed schooner is a strong and elegant wooden boat that the owners had designed and then built themselves up in Rockport, Maine over a three-year period. Coast Guard certified, the boat was crafted with all of the details in mind to provide the owners and their two girls with a great live-aboard experience and to offer visitors to St. John an amazing way to see the islands from the vantage point of being on the water.

A little tidbit that might interest you is that the Heron is featured as Sanderson’s yacht in “The Rum Diary” with Johnny Depp. The movie is based on an early novel by American writer Hunter S. Thompson. Also, both owners, Nigel (Twig) and Bonnie, are 100 ton USCG licensed captains, having sailed extensively in the Gulf of Maine, trans-Atlantic and the Caribbean on sailing skiffs, schooners and square riggers. In addition to operating in St. John during the winter months, the couple runs tours on the Heron from Rockport Harbor, Maine during the summer. The Heron has sailed over 40,000 sea miles since her launching in 2003.

After getting everyone settled on the schooner, we set off from the mooring heading north past Mary Point and Great Thatch Island. We sailed close hauled to Jost Van Dyke and then tacked back to the West End of Tortola, past Sopher’s Hole and across to Leinster Bay and into Waterlemon Bay. We moored for a snorkel trip on Waterlemon Cay and then enjoyed lunch aboard the boat before starting back to Maho Bay. 

What was pretty unusual about this trip was that the Captain only turned on the engine for a few minutes as we came in to and out of the mooring area. Other than that, the wind did the work. It’s amazing to me how rare this is. The Virgin Island waters are full of sailboats and much of the time they are motoring with sails down. What’s the point? You might as well have a fuel-guzzling motor yacht if you are going to do that.  Not only are they expending fuel unnecessarily; they miss the beauty and peace of the sailing experience.

You can join the Schooner Heron for a sail either in St. John, USVI during the winter or the coast of Maine in the summer by contacting them at http://www.woodenboatco.com/ or 1-800-599-8605 or 207-236-8605. Or email them at heron@midcoast.com.