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Approach and Anchoring

Aerial of Christiansted

There are two approaches to the harbor.

The first is to meet the #1 buoy a mile north of the harbor entrance and follow the combination of buoys, day-marks and dolphins into the harbor. The second is to approach from the east and, in the very shadow of Fort Louise Augusta, enter through the “Schooner Channel.” Fort Louise Agusta is prominent on the eastern entrance to the harbor, and the old coral-stone ramparts combine with the tower of radio station WSTX to make an easily recognizable landmark.

The approach has several significant obstructions: first and foremost is Long Reef, which extends west to east two miles, from Judith’s Fancy to the bar east of the red #6 lighted buoy. Some parts of Long Reef are awash even in settled weather, but the reef breaks heavily along its entire length once the Christmas trades pipe up. The harbor behind this perennial yacht graveyard can be entered only through channels east of the red #6 buoy.

The second obstruction of interest is Scotch Bank. This reef officially extends almost 2 miles northeast from Fort Louise Augusta—per the Coast Pilot. But the reality is that yachts drawing less than 10 feet, cross safely from east to west just north of the green #7 channel buoy. This crossing is used dozens of times a day by the fleet of Buck Island tour boats.

Finally, just inside the bar, Round Reef is clearly visible even in settled weather. It is even more conspicuous as it is surrounded by a cadre of buoys and day-marks that will keep all but the most careless sailor safely in the channels.

Christiansted Harbour Map

There are three channels into the anchorages. The first and most difficult is the “Z” Channel This is the one used by the deepest draft vessels—the mini-cruisers—that enter the harbor to tie up at Gallows Bay. The route goes from the #1 buoy to the Gallows Bay dock; it takes the red #6, #8, and #10 dolphins to starboard then turns south to pass between the red #14 and green #13 buoys, and finally turns southeast to the docks—all of which scribes a tolerable “Z” which accounts for the name.

The second channel, called the Cemento Ponce Channel, is named for the company that used to deliver cement to the ready-mix plant west of town. This channel uses the north portion of the “Z” channel, but turns WSW at the flashing #4 second buoy just south of the #10 dolphin. Vessels then take the oddnumbered black cans to port all the way to the Virgin Islands Cement Company and the WAPA (Water and Power Authority) plant. Yachtsmen can use the first section of this channel to reach an anchorage behind Protestant Cay. Just turn southeast toward the anchored boats when past the black #5 can.

By far, the busiest channel is the Schooner Channel. It is named after the down-island schooners that plied the Caribbean for years and used this natural entrance to cross the bar. As mentioned earlier, the traffic through the Schooner Channel is now almost exclusively Buck Island tour boats; as such, when reentering the harbor, they cut through Scotch Bank at the #7 green dolphin then turn south to take the green #5, 7, 9, 11 and 13 marks to port.

Two yacht anchorages are directly in front of St. Croix Marine and another is west of Protestant Cay in good holding ground in 15 to 20 feet of sandy clay. The anchorage west of Protestant Cay is recommended in order to stay out of traffic and get a better night’s sleep. The channel between Protestant Cay and Christiansted carries 10 feet, so there’s no reason to hesitate crossing from Gallows Bay to the west side of the cay.

Christiansted Harbour Map

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