The Virgin Islands Stand-Up Paddle Team, a group with the goal of raising awareness and funding for a plastic-free ocean, recently tried a 2-day round-St Croix trip of 53 miles.

They started at Cramer Park and worked clockwise around the island. They headed east toward Point Udall, made it down to the south shore, past Sandy Point and then overnighted in Frederiksted. The next day, the 5-person team split up. The trip ended at Cane Bay, and the last mile took 1 hour, 15 minutes. They ran into headwinds of 15-20 knots, three-foot waves, and 250-pound sea turtles. “We just ran out of time and the conditions were crazy,” said Colin Butler, captain, and a 39-year-old St. Thomas resident.

It doesn’t matter whether the group paddles in competitive 6Â-mile races around the Caribbean or embarks on a leisurely paddle trip while picking up trash and cleaning up the environment — having a good time is always the goal. On this trip, the group cleaned up Ha’Penny Beach, which is off South Shore Road near Machineel Bay. “It was one of the most filthy beaches I’ve seen,” Butler said. “It’s such a beautiful place, but within 100 feet we filled up two trash bags.”

The team will be back in action again in July when the team sets out for a straight paddle trip from St. Thomas to Puerto Rico. But in the meantime, their mission to rid local beaches of plastic bottles continues.

For more information, e-mail Butler at whasupvi@gmail.com.