Virgin Islands National Park Bay Hosts

Last night at 5pm, Margaret and I started our new “job.” We are now volunteer bay hosts for Virgin Islands National Park. For the next two months – at a minimum – we will be living on a mooring in beautiful Leinster Bay on the northeast corner of St. John.

As bay hosts, our duties include greeting boaters, tending to the moorings, and making sure folks know the park rules. We are expected to give forty hours every week. That will still leave us lots of time to continue to explore the BVI and start to get to know the rest of the USVI. But Leinster Bay has some of the best snorkeling on St. John and trails and ruins line the shoreline, so we might just spend most of our time exploring and relaxing here.

beautiful variegated blue waters, ringed by tall island, and a sailboat on a mooring in the middle

Looking out from the ruins of the former big house of the Murphy plantation. Bear is on a mooring just off Watermelon Cay.

Yesterday, we went through training with the National Park Service. The three-hour session introduced us to the park’s marine rules and regulations, typical issues we may face, and some of the rangers and staff members that we will be working with. We also received our official “arrowheads,” the NPS symbol on our cool uniforms. Now all we need to do is get to intimately know the surrounding water and land along with the flora and fauna so that we can better assist guests.

A man and a woman in a sailboat wearing Virgin Island Nation Park Volunteer uniform polo shirts and hats.

The two of us in our new uniforms right before we went out on our first round (to a single charter cat) yesterday evening.

After some potatoes and eggs this morning, we are going to get started enjoying our new surroundings and performing our official duties!

chart of Leinster Bay with old sugar mill and other ruins and trails marked along the shoreline

Chart of Leinster Bay

And here is a photo essay of our first exploration this morning (all photos taken by Margaret with her trusty iPhone, except when she handed it to me):

ruins with an intact archway. through the archway, Margaret on the right and Bear framed on the left

After those eggs and potatoes, we dinghied ashore. And immediately, we started climbing to the ruins above. This is from the ruins of an old hospital turned fortification.

Purple and pink flower with darker inner fold with yellow and white in the middle

As we continued upwards on the trail, we passed interesting Caribbean trees and shrubs and some beautiful flowers, including this clitoria, which is a type of flowering pea plant.

four yellow trumpet looking flowers

Here is a yellow cedar, which is the national flower of the USVI.

ivy-like vines with pink flowers encasing stone ruins

Finally, we topped out overlooking the bay on the ridge where the ruins of the Murphy plantation house are. Spanish creeper covered large portions of it. And the place was just buzzing with hundreds of bees as butterflies danced over top of it all.

Man standing in ruins of Murphy House on St John Island, USVI. Man is wearing blue shirt, visor, sunglasses and black shorts. Green vegetation and pink flowers abound.

Jeff standing on the remains of one of the walls, taking in the view.

A solo white sailboat sits in an anchorage with a small island on the right with torquoise and blue waters. In the foreground, pink flowers grow up over a concrete wall that are part of the ruins of Murphy House on St John Island, USVI. Blue sky and white puffy clouds fill the sky.

And something like what Jeff’s view was. Bear is all by her lonesome in the center of the mooring field.

Concrete and rock ruins atop a hillside set against a backdrop of rolling hills with lush green vegetation. Pink flowers on the left side.

It will be a pleasure to hike up here regularly to take in the view and learn more about the flora, fauna, and history of Leinster Bay.

Man in blue shirt, sunglasses, and blue visor cap on left side of screen waves next to a large, multi-limbed cactus.

Jeff looking like a dork posing with a pipe organ cactus we saw along the trail.

Female human hand on left side of image to show scale with large crab claw on right hand side of image. Both against a rocky trail background.

Margaret found a crab claw amidst another set of ruins in the drainage off the Leinster Bay beach. It seemed like birds might have used the ruins to help them crack into their meal.

A pelican on a rock cleaning itself in the foreground with a large expanse of blue water and a white hull sailboat in the far background.

We watched a pelican preen itself on a rock off the beach, thinking Jeff’s dad would enjoy seeing another one down in the Virgins.

Close up shot of green brain coral with snails.

A piece of brain coral on the beach also entertained us for a while. Shortly after seeing this, we also saw a small shark feeding in the shallows.

Interpretive sign for Annaberg Historic Trail with path leading up to cobblestone ruins on the right.

Walking along the beach, we finally made it over to the Annaberg sugar mill, which had been part of the plantation. The mill overlooks Leinster Bay from the center of the bay, while the Murphy house remains are up on the eastern corner.

Cobblestone ruins of 18th century sugar mill on St John Island. Dense green trees on mountainside in the background. Ruins of building with open windows and doorways.

At the mill, we met Wendell and Ellie, who are also Virgin Islands National Park volunteers. They have been at Annaberg once a week in season for the last thirteen years, minus 2017-18 after Hurricane Irma basically closed the park.

Ruins of windmill from at 18th century sugar mill. Cobble stone construction against a blue sky with puffy white clouds.

Wendell and Ellie welcomed us to Annaberg, oriented us a bit, and provided us with a lot of history of the plantation. We are looking forward to walking down the beach to meet all the daily volunteers at Annaberg over the next week.

White-hauled sailboat on a mooring on right side of picture with lush green rolling hills in the background above blue water with lapping waves.

We are excited to help protect, fund, and care for Leinster Bay while welcoming others to this place and getting to know it intimately. And, of course, we are happy to be calling this corner of the world home for the next several months.


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3 Responses to Virgin Islands National Park Bay Hosts

  1. Such a sweet opportunity for you guys! Well done! We’ll be thinking of you often as the winter closes in here in Rockland Maine, and our dear Sionna waits in the boatyard for our return!

  2. Sarah says:

    What a wonderful read! This all looks amazing so enjoy your time in the area. Thinking of you both from chilly Rochester, New York.

  3. Rodneygrems says:

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