Westin Resort, St. John US Virgin Islands (USVI) Several of our blog readers have been asking for updates on the conditions at the Westin Resort since the damage incurred by the heavy rains a few weeks ago.
The pool is still not in operation, but workers were present and the job of refinishing seems to be progressing nicely.
The tennis courts have been cleaned up and all the old surfaces removed, but thus far, that’s it. Rumor has it that the hotel is thinking about putting down a hard surface instead of the old synthetic turf, but because of the significant expense involved, it appears doubtful.
The Kid’s Club, Arcade and Conference Rooms are still out of commission. The Beach Cafe is still closed and is being temporarily replaced by the Cruz Bay Prime above the hotel lobby.
My take is that work is being done, but certainly not at particularly feverish pace, and I would be surprised if much is completed before Thanksgiving.
It appears that the Virgin Islands National Park is doing some work on the Cinnamon Bay Self Guiding Trail. Concrete pathways are in the process of being installed, making access easier and safer and wheelchair friendly.
bay rum tree lined trail
Flowing gut along the Cinnamon Bay Self Guiding Trail
It’s been raining quite hard here on St. John for the last day or so causing significant flooding. I’ve heard reports from Coral Bay about rock and mud slides and other flood related problems. On St. Thomas, I heard that Crown Mountain Road is all but impassible.
But here closer to home I’ve seen quite a bit of damage in the area around the Westin where Guinea Gut overflowed. Flood waters ran through the resort and undermined the bridge over the gut and for several hours vehicles could no longer pass between the Westin on the east and the St. John Market on the west. The causes of it all are two areas of stormy weather, one now a named storm, Subtropical Storm Otto and another referred to by the meteorologists as Invest 97.
At the Westin some rooms were flooded, as was the pool and the beach area. Large breaking waves caused a sailboat anchored in Great Cruz Bay to was up on the Westin Beach adding it to the other unfortunate craft brought ashore by Hurricane Earl.
Bridge over Guinea Gut
Sailboat is washed ashore by breaking seas
It’s Wednesday night and still raining, hopefully the rain will stop soon.
Bob Garrison, better known on St. John as the “Trail Bandit,” has produced the ultimate St. John Trail Map, a must have for any resident of St. John as well as for anyone visiting the island, hiker or not. The maps are available on St. John or can be downloaded or purchased on Bob’s website: trailbandit.org. Back in April of this year, I published an interview of Bob, which our readers may find interesting: Trail Bandit Interview Every year on the last Saturday in September, Bob hosts “Henniker’s Annual Pumpkin Festival” at his airport in Henniker New Hampshire. People arrive from all over, some in their own planes. When weather permits there’s an Air Show where, according to Bob, “People do silly things in airplanes.”
Bob's Plane - Italian Fighter-Trainer, Symmetrical Wing
Trail Bandit Airport - 3000 foot paved runway with lights
biplane parked at hanger
There’s a big barbecue, homemade pies, and hard and soft beverages. Bob personally prepared and marinated 120 pounds of chicken for the event. Mary brought her apple pies, but because of dangerous cross winds she didn’t fly them in herself as she normally does.
Bob "Trail Bandit" Garrison and Mary, the Trail Banditess
Autumn Colors at Airport
The highlight of the day is the trebuchet pumpkin launch. First Bob grows the pumpkins. Then on the day of the festival he sets up the trebuchet. An old wrecked automobile is fork-lifted down the field about two hundred yards from the trebuchet to serve as a target.
Pumpkin in flight
The trebuchet is armed using the force of about five or more people using a line to raise th 800-pound concrete counterweight. The trebuchet arm is then secured by the trigger mechanism and the pumpkin loaded into it’s pouch. Someone is chosen to pull the trigger and the pumpkin flies off to it’s target at a speed of 69 mies an hour. (Someone was there with a radar gun to verify the speed)
Hurricane Season on St. John
For several decades before Hurricanes, Hugo and Marilyn, Virgin Islanders didn’t think too much about hurricanes, even during hurricane season. This was probably due to the fact that there hadn’t been a major hurricane for so long. I remember reading in a tourist pamphlet when I first arrived in 1969 that “the Virgin Islands were situated so far north of the hurricane belt that the islands were rarely visited by these fierce Atlantic storms. Imagine, Foxy held his famous Wooden Boat Race on Labor Day weekend. It would be totally unheard of today to schedule any event involving sailing vessels right in the middle of the hurricane season.
But now we do think about it and for just about everyone on St. John, hurricane season means financial lean times.
I like to look at the bright side, however, and I actually welcome the season, providing there are no storms. Why is this?
To begin with, the water is warm. This means a lot to me. I love to swim and snorkel, but I just get too cold during the winter. Plus, there are no ground seas in the summer, providing a storm system doesn’t pass close to us on the north, like Hurricane Earl did this year. Ground seas are ocean swells generated by low pressure systems and storms in the North Atlantic that break when they come into contact with the north facing coastlines of the islands. These seas churn up the water reducing the visibility when snorkeling.
The hurricane season tends to bring days when the seas are flat calm, great for small power boats like mine. I can get to Virgin Gorda or even Anegada quite easily on these days. Moreover, swimming and snorkeling are a delight in these warm, mirror-flat waters.
But what I like best about the season is knowing just about everyone I see in town, out on the road, on the beaches and even on hikes. Tourists are few and far between and life is just more “Islandy.”
(“September Remember, October All Over,” Island Saying)