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Charlotte Amalie
Sunday, February 5, 2023
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@Work: Big Beard Adventure Tours

March 3, 2005 – Capt. John Macy came to St. Croix for a vacation in 1979. He has been here pretty much ever since.
He started crewing on a boat operating tours to Buck Island. In 1985 he began buying into ownership. Now he owns Big Beard Adventure Tours which operates two sailing catamarans – Renegade and Flyer.
The boats offer full-day or half-day snorkel trips to Buck Island. The full-day trip features a beach barbecue on Coakley Beach.
Macy says there are a lot of people envious of his job, but Big Beard has its "trials and tribulations like any small business." However, he has no regrets about not taking another course in his life, he says he "absolutely loves" his job.
When the Renegade is preparing to leave the Christiansted Harbor about 9:30 each morning, the man with the big beard conducting the safety lecture is Macy. His easy manner and soft jokes show a man who is happy with what he does.
His manner seems to rub off on the crew who seem helpful and pleasant. The crew on a recent trip was Capt. Teddy Clark, Darby Kirby and Steve Kammerzelt. The captain did the steering; Darby, a young woman, did most of the work; and Steve had the best jokes.
The full-day trip's first stop is Turtle Beach on Buck Island. It was named as one of the 10 prettiest beaches in the world by National Geographic. Here, in the gentle waves, Steve and Darby will give snorkel lessons to anyone who needs them. Sometimes Sammy, a huge sting ray, will drop in to see what everyone is up to. Then, it is back in the boat and out to the reef for the main attraction, snorkeling along an underwater national park trail. First the crew gives a little tour of the swimming area, guiding guests through narrow coral grottoes and then everyone is on his or her own for about an hour.
What do you see besides beautiful coral formations? A lot. We saw a couple of types of snappers, Blue Tangs, wrasses, an octopus, and many fish we could not identify. Others on the same cruise saw barracuda and a sea turtle. Along the trail there are monuments with illustrations of various fish and their names.
After the swim everyone is ready to eat, so the Renegade then sails off to a secluded spot on Coakley Beach. Surrounded by sea grapes, sitting on a makeshift but sturdy bench, one can enjoy as many hot dogs, hamburgers and rum punches as desired. There is also Mahi Mahi available. Entertainment is provided by several mongoose that hang around the area waiting for the leftovers.
And then, with bellies full, passengers are treated to a quiet sail back into Christiansted harbor arriving about 3:30 p.m.
The half-day trip starts at noon and ends at 4 p.m. Snorkel gear is provided on all trips. Special trips such as sunset tours are also arranged. To charter, the group must include at least 20 people. Renegade and Flier are both sanctioned by the National Park Service to carry 37 people. If you want to get married, Macy can do that also.
He says he has probably performed as many weddings as anyone on St. Croix, numbering over 800.
The cost for full days is $75 for adults and $55 for children 6 to 12. The cost for half days is $50 and $40.
For information on Big Beard call 340-773-4482.

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