the Degree Confluence Project

United States : US Virgin Islands

21.1 miles (34.0 km) NNW of Blue Mountain, St. Croix, VI, USA
Approx. altitude: 0 m (0 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest OpenStreetMap topo ConfluenceNavigator)
Antipode: 18°S 115°E

Accuracy: 150 m (492 ft)
Quality: good

Click on any of the images for the full-sized picture.

#2: South from the confluence #3: West after coming about #4: North from the confluence #5: Getting close #6: Penelope at the helm, Kevin along for the ride #7: Sam at the wheel #8: Sam, Kevin, Penelope, Jasper, Amanda,

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  18°N 65°W (incomplete) 

#1: Looking East near the confluence

(visited by William Meller, Amanda Meller, Jasper Meller, Penelope Meller, Sam Chewning and Kevin Moses)

15-Jun-2021 --

With all the sailing that goes on around the Virgin Islands, how could it be that a visit to the ONLY primary confluence in this region has never been recorded?

In June of 2021, with Covid waning in the US for the third time, we were feeling the need for a break. Travel was still quite restricted worldwide, but as residents of the US, we discovered that it was possible to travel to the US Virgin Islands with only our current vaccinations. Although we found flights rather easily from the West Coast, it turned out that many others had found the same opening and hotels and rentals were almost fully booked. We managed to charter a sailboat for a week through a French booker. As soon as these pieces were in place, I did what I usually do and scan the area through DCP for a confluence. The visits often provide interesting information that can't be found in other sources as well as a little about what it is like to work with local people on a project.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that, in this most cruised, sailed and explored part of the Caribbean that there was only one confluence and that it HAS NEVER BEEN RECORDED!

How could this be? It is just about halfway between the two largest of the US VI and these waters have been traversed for thousands of years by the native Carib, Arawak, and Ciboney people. https://www.vinow.com/general_usvi/culture/virgin-islands-people/ Since the 1500s, the area was traversed by countless Dutch, Danish, English, Irish and French and finally American explorers, tradesmen and settlers. All have left their marks on the area. The territory now known as the US Virgin Islands, contains many living remnants of these earlier peoples and for that reason, as well as its natural beauty is not to be missed. Somehow this confluence has been.

Arriving at the Compass Point Marina, we discovered that chartering a boat in the Caribbean, through a broker in France, may not have been the best plan. While they had a boat available, it was in very poor condition (e.g., broken tackle, no working refrigerator) and most importantly, no record of our requesting a local skipper to help us with navigating these unfamiliar waters. Only one of us had much sailing experience. Part of our intention was that the others would use this as an opportunity to learn by doing. Spend a week on a 46-foot sailboat and learn to sail.

We spent the next two days in port, only going out in the small dinghy to local beach islands to beat the heat and do some snorkeling. Several times a day we checked in with the local staff, about the location of the skipper. He was “sailing in from Guadeloupe” we were told.

Finally, around 4 PM on the third day he arrived, and we met Kevin Moses.

We could not have been luckier. A man of enormous experience, tolerance of our inexperience, and resourcefulness. We decided to sail out that afternoon, even though it was late, to escape the heat, crowd and noise of the Marina. Not five hundred yards out of the berth, in a mild breeze, the traveling block on the Genoa exploded and we could barely maintain our windward heading to clear the channel. Oh great, I thought, another night in the sweltering marina, waiting for a new block. I did not account for Kevin though. He took a careful look at the damage, and telling me to hold the course, in a few minutes he managed to jury rig a new block from the parts that remained and some rope he found. It held for the rest of the week, and we never looked back.

That evening we sailed to a quiet bay on the southern side of St Cruz. After dinner we talked with Kevin about our plans for the week and during the conversation, we mentioned the confluence. You can tell a lot about a person when you start to talk about confluences. I have found that it brings out the adventurous spirit in people and Kevin clearly was all for it. He thought we should be able to reach it in 4 or 5 hours on a good day and that looking at the weather for the week, the next day might offer the best combination of wind and swell, enough of one and less of the other. Everyone aboard was in favor.

Tuesday, ‎June ‎15, ‎2021

We set off around 8 am heading to the South and slightly west. With the wind coming from the Southeast, we were able to take several very long tacks and all took turns at the helm. The swell was around 4 feet so there was a lot of rocking and rolling and seasickness took its toll. Penelope, the youngest of the crew seemed to be a natural at the wheel and learned quickly to read the waves and the wind, keeping us on course and trying to keep the motion of the boat to a minimum.

After about 5 hours we were approaching the confluence. We got our gear ready to record. I calculated that given the condition of the crew and how long it would take us to get back to land we were probably going to be able to make only one pass at it so we got as close to the meridian as we could and sailed right down it to the confluence. We took pictures of the ship's guidance computer and on a phone GPS (which I managed to delete the next day).

Because of the clouds, we could not make out a clear sight of land on the horizon. Blue Mountain (~300 m) on the island of St Croix should be visible in the distance on a good day.

It took us another five hours or so to return to Brewers Bay on St Thomas. Achieving a confluence is a great feeling. Each one is different in what it takes to get there and how the people you are with appreciate it. You learn a lot about the place and the people. Jasper, although he was seasick for a lot of the sail, never complained once and rallied to enjoy the rest of the trip. Penelope found something she loved to do, holding her course through the wind and waves. Amanda and Sam are up for anything and are the best of traveling companions.

But we couldn’t have done it without Kevin. His experience, knowledge, skills and calm demeanor made this a great sail and a better adventure. If you ever need a skipper in this part of the world, you cannot do better.

 All pictures
#1: Looking East near the confluence
#2: South from the confluence
#3: West after coming about
#4: North from the confluence
#5: Getting close
#6: Penelope at the helm, Kevin along for the ride
#7: Sam at the wheel
#8: Sam, Kevin, Penelope, Jasper, Amanda,
ALL: All pictures on one page
In the ocean, but Blue Mountain (St. Croix) to the Southeast and Crown Mountain (St. Thomas) to the North will both be over the horizon, and visible on a clear day.