William M. Dowd photoCHRISTIANSTED, St. Croix -- It rose above the smaller sailing craft in the calm harbor waters like a giant reddish cloud. The schooner Roseway wasn't even at full sail, yet its dark canvases dwarfed all around it.
It was a genuine sighting of a floating U.S. National Historic Landmark, something I hadn't anticipated when I plopped down on a boardwalk bench in this small main city of St. Croix to relax and let my eye wander over one of the prettier spots on this down-at-the-heels Virgin Island.
The Roseway was built in 1925, and before it was completely restored two years ago it had served as a racing yacht, a fishing vessel and a pilot boat guiding Allied vessels through minefields and anti-submarine nets during World War II.
The Roseway was the last sail-powered pilot boat in the U.S. when put into retirement in 1972. It segued into use as a charter sailing ship off the Maine coast before falling into disrepair.
When the ship was donated to the World Ocean School in 2002, it was the start of a whole new life. The Roseway makes Massachusetts its warm-weather home and St. Croix its winter home. Each location is home to a World Ocean School office.
Massachusetts was an easy decision. The schooner was built in Essex on Cape Ann just north of Boston.
The 137-foot tall ship has tanbark sails, and its 14 cabins can accommodate up to 32 guests who utilize not only deck space but a large main saloon for dining and socializing.
The World Ocean School is based aboard the Roseway, which it uses as a floating classroom for adults and children. Visitors can take part in extended programs, or just summer daytrips right now departing from the Port Authority Dock at Gallows Bay. For a 2½-hour sail, adults pay $45 ($40 for seniors), kids $30.
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• World Ocean School
• Visiting St. Croix
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