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@Work: Hail Mary Sunset Cruises

Sept. 23, 2004 – "Gliding silently through the water" of Christiansted Harbor is what makes a sunset cruise on the Hail Mary so enjoyable.
That's according to Mary Simpson, owner, who takes the trip often as the one-person crew for Capt. Thomas Henry Maynard. The Duffy electric boat, which Simpson refers to as "very upscale and handsome," can hold six passengers.
But silence is not all that the passengers are treated to as they sip their champagne. The boat has a good sound system with a CD player, and, Simpson explained, "We feature Bill Bass on steel drums."
Passengers can also hear a lot about the history of St. Croix from Simpson or from Maynard, who has been sailing in the local waters for almost 40 years.
Passengers are given as a memento of their trip a reproduction of a 1755 etching of the harbor. Many of the building in the etching are still standing and are pointed out during the hour-long cruise.
Passengers are split between tourists and local people."The local people use us for special occasions or when they have visitors," Simpson said.
As a testimonial to how enjoyable the cruise is, "The snowbirds, they keep coming back again and again. Some of them take two or three cruises each winter," Simpson said.
The Hail Mary's season is almost all year long. The boat is taken out of the water mid-September to mid-October. As well as avoiding the height of hurricane season this also gives Simpson time to perform maintenance on the boat. When the boat goes in the water in October of this year, it will be to begin its fourth year of plying the harbor.
"Even babies love our trip. Mothers love it because it is a sure way to put the baby to sleep," Simpson said.
The boat departs from Christiansted harbor boardwalk, between Rum Runners and Stxx at 4, 5 and 6 p.m. The cost is $15 per person, or the boat can be rented for private parties at $80 per hour.
Simpson has lived in the Virgin Islands for almost 40 years and has a great deal of experience in the travel industry. She started Southerland Travel in 1975 and still owns it.
Southerland is located in the Caravelle Arcade in downtown Christiansted and employs six people. It caters to a mix of leisure and business travelers. Simpson has agreements with several Christiansted businesses that give her travel customers discounts. Its Web site is Southerlandtours.com.
She also owns a house she rents out to tourists."Living here, you have to do different things," she said.

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