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St. John’s New Ferry Named; Pays Homage to Island’s History

The. new ferry will arrive later this year or in early 2025.

Earlier this year, I told you that a brand new ferry is currently being built to transport passengers between Cruz Bay and Red Hook. That ferry will hold 300 people, more than the current ferries, and it is expected to arrive later this year or in early 2025. It will even have a dedicated space for luggage, so no more stressing over your bags getting soaked during the island rains.

One cool aspect regarding this new ferry was the fact that the Port Authority was asking for our help to name it. Well, after receiving more than 300 suggestions, they finally settled on a name – Spirit of 1733.

Spirit of 1733 – The Historical Connection 

This plaque is located on Ram Head.

Denmark settled St. John in 1718 and brought enslaved people from Africa’s Guinea Coast for the purposes of working the sugar plantations. A large number of those enslaved people came from the Akwamu tribe, a tribe that ruled present-day Ghana for decades. The Akwamu often traded with the Danes, selling their fellow Africans into slavery. Eventually the Akwamu was defeated and was sold into slavery themselves. Many were subsequently brought to St. John.

The Akwamu was a tribe that had numerous strong warriors, and those warriors eventually planned a revolt here in St. John. Led by King Kanta, King Claes, King Juni and Queen Breffu, the Akwamu entered a fort in Coral Bay carrying bales of wood. (This occurred at Fortsberg, which is the area of land on the east side of Coral Bay harbor.) The warriors acted as if they were initiating a normal delivery of wood, but once they were inside the mostly-unmanned fort, they branded cane knives and killed the soldiers who were present. The tribe moved plantation to plantation, killing colonists until they held most of the island. The 1733 Slave Insurrection was the first time that enslaved people took control of a colony. This was a major historical event, and it is remarkable that it took place in St. John.

The insurrection lasted nearly six months. The Danes eventually made a deal with the French, and troops from Martinique arrived to quell the uprising. The Akwamu fought, but could not hold off the forces, so they were left with few options. Rather than be recaptured and tortured, many chose suicide. In April 1734, a number of freedom fighters ritualistically took their own lives on Ram Head. A plaque now sits there to honor this integral part of St. John’s rich history.

There is more to St. John than beautiful beaches. Our history is rich. Our culture is incredible.

If you would like to learn more about St. John, please consider taking a tour with me. You can learn more at or feel free to email me at

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  1. Jim Gallagher

    I knew a little about the the insurrection, but not the details you provided. Thanks for that history lesson. I am happy to see that the new ferry will memorialize that story for many years.

  2. Ron

    Thank you for informing us. It is particularly important that we recognize the “full” history of the island and honor the legacy of the people who fought for their freedom.

  3. Susie Webb

    Thanks Jenn for the ferry update and the history.
    As always your articles are a joy to read!

    Stay salty and Happy Carnival! ✌️❤️🌴🎉

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