Category Archives: Life on St. John USVI

St John Virgin Islands stories, events, happenings, photos -everyday life in Love City, St. John USVI

Airlines with a St. John Connection

Antilles Airboats

In the Lind Point Shoreline Scramble chapter of the new 2016 edition of St. John Off the Beaten Track, I wrote a few paragraphs about the St. John connection (the old seaplane ramp) with Antilles Airboats and their founders Charlie Blair Maureen O’Hara.

Blair was a United States Air Force Brigadier General and flying ace who made air travel history by flying his scarlet-red P-51 Mustang, named Excalibur III, non-stop from New York to London in 1951 and by making the first solo flight over the North Pole.

Maureen O’Hara was a famous movie actor who retired from show business to marry Blair and who took over Antilles Airboats after Charlie Blair’s death in 1978. (Charlie Blair died in 1978 when the Grumman Goose he was piloting developed engine trouble and crashed between St. Croix and St. Thomas.)


There is another airline with a personal St. John connection. That is, Caribair and the Trigo Brothers. The connection works like this. The Trigo Brothers from Puerto Rico were once the owners of Caneel Bay, having purchased the property from the West India Company in the early 1940s.

The Trigos were also the founders of Caribbean-Atlantic Airlines, which in 1942 became the first scheduled airline to fly to St. Thomas and St. Croix from San Juan, Puerto Rico using a small fleet of Stinson A Tri-Motor aircraft.

Stinson A Tri-MotorThe name of the airline company was changed to Caribair in 1945 and upgraded their fleet to the larger DC 9 aircraft. In 1972 Caribair merged with Eastern Airlines.

Caribair DC9

The UFO Connection

“In June 1970, the Puerto Rican Air National Guard apparently received reports concerning a mystery object from a Caribair jet as well as from a Pan American World Airways (Pan Am) jetliner. Pilots in both aircraft reportedly claimed to have seen an unidentified flying object (UFO) close to San Juan’s Isla Verde International Airport. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released a statement about this incident in 1977.”
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Document #: 39
Date Sent: 09-22-1986
Subject: 1977 FAA REPORT PAGE 2

  1. The object remained oriented in a northeasterly/southwesterly direction with the nose pointed northeast; the stern to the southwest, and drifting slowly against the prevailing winds to the southwest about 8 knots per hour.
  2. There were no signs of any type of propulsion unit on the object.

The San Juan Star published a series of articles concerning the incident.

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Trunk Bay in the Morning

My favorite time to visit Trunk Bay is in the morning. No hassles; I don’t have to show my drivers license at the booth, few, if any, people at the beach and by the time I’m ready to leave I can count on the showers being turned on. Every morning that I’m there absolutely blows me away. I ‘m totally amazed by how beautiful it is and I can’t believe that I’m actually there. So fortunate!

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High Surf Advisory

Good News for Surfers – Not so good for swimmers

There’s a high surf advisory, which will remain in effect until 2:00 PM AST this afternoon.

If you’re looking for calm seas and quieter conditions check out the beaches on the south shore.

st john beaches: salt pond bay
Salt Pond Bay, a South Shore Alternative


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Yard and Bake Sale for Dana the Donkey Lady

donkeys Carolina Corral
Suzie and JuJu

Yard and Bake Sale for the Donkey Lady
by Pamela Holmes

Upon returning to beautiful St. John a few weeks ago, I went to go visit Dana at the Carolina Corral and met her latest residents, two male donkeys from Caneel Bay, along with Suzie Q’s baby, Julian or “JuJu”. You may remember Suzie Q was the pregnant donkey at the bottom of Upper Carolina in Coral Bay in February that was missing a hoof and bleeding very badly. Dana gave her pain medication and spent the night beside her before she could arrange for Bucky of “Digital Dudes” and his pickup truck to bring Suzie to the corral the next morning for treatment. Suzie’s hoof has successfully grown back and she and JuJu are doing very well, thanks to Dana!

Dana also recently took in the oldest donkey on the island for several months during the dry spell. She named her Sadie and has known her since ’96. She also took a baby donkey off Centerline Road who’s mother’s milk had dried up. She named the baby Fiona or “FiFi”, after a captain on a charter boat who brought her guests riding at the corral. The two donkeys became attached to one another and are good companions. This summer Dana received a call about another baby donkey that was chased out into the ocean by a male donkey. That baby found a home in St. Thomas with a family who had an older donkey.

Dana realizes she cannot continue her rescue work alone for the donkeys and other wild animals of St. John, so she has been filing the necessary paperwork to become a non-profit organization. Until that process is complete, however, I am helping her organize a couple of fundraisers. The first will be a yard and bake sale across from Pickles on Saturday, January 16th from 8am to 1pm.   Thanks to Pickles’ owner, Bev, and her generosity, we will be selling house hold items and baked goods to help Dana move the former mobile vet van across the road from the corral where she will be making her new home. Come have breakfast or lunch at Pickles and shop for some great items! We will also have a refrigerator, a gas stove, a solid slat wood king bed frame, misc. furniture and a like-new hot tub for sale. If you would like to donate any items for the yard and bake sale, please call me at 978-509-2203 or email

Dana been helping donkeys since ’93 when she brought Pepe in from the wild and later a female she named Juanita. Later that year, the National Park along with the VI government, allowed a group of people from St. Croix to round up 19 donkeys. Pepe was tame, so she thinks the people would have taken him and his life would have been much different, with yearly races to raise money for a local organization.

As Dana is the only hands-on, all-volunteer donkey rescuer on St. John, her animals are always in need of feed, hay, medical supplies and general maintenance materials. Donations of any stable supplies or items for the yard and bake sale would be greatly appreciated! She is also trying to secure a trailer and a pickup truck to more easily transport an injured donkey. She had to return the one she found earlier for various reasons, one being it was too small.

If you would like to make a contribution to help sponsor Suzie Q, JuJu or any of the other rescued animals, you can visit her website at or Facebook page. General contributions can also be made via PayPal at the Carolina Corral’s email,

Thank you for your continued support and we hope to see you at the yard and bake sale on January 16th!


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Happy New Year!!!

Best wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous new Year from

Cruz Bay Rainbow
Cruz Bay photographed from Pillsbury Sound 12/31/2015 (Old Years Afternoon)

2016 is here and it’s time to implement, as best as I can, some of my New Year’s resolutions, one of which is to resume writing my St. John Life blog.

New Website
For those of you who haven’t noticed, the SeeStJohn website has been completely redesigned with the goal of presenting, in addition to the information and photos from the old website, as much of my archived articles, texts and photos that are good enough to be preserved on the website. I want to make this an information resource that people interested in St. John can refer to for years to come. I also have the intention of adding all new photos and information that merits inclusion as they come about.

New Edition of St. John Off The Beaten Track
The new 2016 edition of my book, “St. John Off The Beaten Track,” has arrived and is available in St. John shops, on my website and on There are more pages, more photos and more information.

No Eggs
As of yesterday the cupboards of St. John markets and supermarkets were bare. There wasn’t even an egg to be found at least on the Cruz Bay side. I’m not sure if Coral Bay had eggs or not. This was caused by congestion at the mainland seaports with increased holiday imports and increased security shipments out of Miami to St. Tomas and St. John were delayed. The good news is that yesterday I saw a 40-foot container arrive at St. John Gourmet and if this is indicative of container arrivals on St. John in general, the food drought should be over.

Ghost wears a tie

The Ghost from Jost
The Ghost heading to Cruz Bay for New Years Eve festivities.
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Actress Maureen O’Hara Dies at 95

Maureen O’Hara

Maureen O’Hara died on Saturday at her home in Boise, Idaho. She was 95. To most of the world she’ll be remembered for her major roles in numerous movie classics of the 1940s and ‘50s. But to many older Virgin Islanders, she’ll also be remembered for the years that she spent in the Virgin Islands, when she retired from show business to marry Gen. Charles F. (Charlie) Blair, an Air Force aviator and founder of the Virgin Islands seaplane company Antilles Air Boats. During her time in the Virgin Islands, Ms. O’Hara published and wrote a column for the magazine, The Virgin Islander and took over Antilles Airboats after Charlie Blair’s death in 1978.

Antilles Airboats

Between 1967 and 1995 Antilles Airboats provided scheduled seaplane service between Cruz Bay and San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Croix and Tortola.

Antilles Airboats was the first commercial seaplane service to operate in the Virgin Islands started by flying ace, renowned test pilot and author Charlie Blair in 1964.

Charlie Blair distinguished himself, among countless other achievements, by flying his scarlet-red P-51 Mustang, named Excalibur III, non-stop from New York to London in 1951. In May of that same year Blair made the first solo flight over the North Pole delivering personally through the cockpit window a letter addressed to Santa Claus from his son, Chris. Excalibur III is now on permanent display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

In 1968, Charlie Blair married the famous movie actress Maureen O’Hara and the couple lived on St. Croix. By 1977, Antilles Air Boats, with a fleet of 23 amphibious aircraft including 19 Grumman Goose seaplanes, was making more than 100 flights a day, carrying some 250,000 passengers a year. Virgin Islanders often referred to Antilles Airboats as “The streetcar line of the Virgin Islands.”

Charlie Blair died in 1978 when the Grumman Goose he was piloting developed engine trouble and crashed between St. Croix and St. Thomas.

The present-day boat launching area on St. John once housed the seaplane ramp and rustic offices and ground facilities for Antilles Airboats. The company lost its planes to Hurricane Hugo in 1989. Afterwards, other companies took over, until they too lost their aircraft to a hurricane. This time it was Hurricane Marilyn in 1995. After that, the National Park announced that it would no longer lease the seaplane ramp and that wonderful scheduled seaplane service that at one time enabled visitors to change planes in San Juan and fly directly to Cruz Bay is no more.







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Many Popular Sunscreens are Harming our Coral Reefs

Coral Polyps

A common ingredient in many of the most popular sunscreens called oxybenzone has been found to be extremely toxic to the coral reef. The chemical kills the symbiotic algae that both feed and gives color to the coral animal causing the phenomena known as coral bleaching.

The study conducted in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Hawaii and was inspired when a vendor at Trunk Bay made the comment, “Just wait to see what they’d leave behind, he told the scientists – “a long oil slick.”

According to an NPR report, “some 14,000 tons of screen lotions wind up in coral reefs around the world each year.”

See lists of the best and the worst sunscreens.

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St. John Weather: The Drought

It’s been quite a long time since we’ve had any significant rain. The hillsides are brown populated mostly with leafless or dried out leaves trees struggling to survive. Here in Great Cruz Bay we are seeing landscaped plants giving up the ghost despite efforts by homeowners to keep them alive.

Rain on Thursday? Maybe…


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