The unlikely island of Anegada has the distinction of being the site of the first airport ever built in the British Virgin Islands. The airstrip that first brought the age of air travel to the BVI was not much more than a hard-packed dirt runway. It was located at West End near Cow Wreck Beach and constructed in hopes of servicing a fledgling shark fishing industry that had started up on the island.
(In the 1800s when a ship carrying cow bones, used at the time to make chalk and buttons, wrecked on the reef just offshore of a small sandy cove on the northwest coast of Anegada. For years afterwards these bones washed ashore and the cove became know as Cow Wreck Beach.)
The shark fishery never really got off the ground, and the only aircraft to ever land at West End were one or two small private planes from St. Thomas carrying store-bought goods to Anegada residents and returning with local produce and seafood. These flights, however, were so few and far between that it was not long before the airstrip was abandoned and fell into disrepair.
(The last plane to ever use the airport before it literally disappeared into the bush was made by “a doctor from Tortola who flew his own plane and tried to make a call to Anegada by air. Having inspected the airfield from above and deciding it looked okay, he went in for his landing and touched down. All went well until an 18-inch ditch across the runway sheared off his landing gear. It seems that one of the locals, wanting to drain a salt marsh, had dug a ditch across the runway. Such is aviation across the West Indies…”Street’s Cruising Guide to the Eastern Caribbean, by Donald Street. The doctor mentioned in the story was identified by some Anegadians as Tortola’s Dr. Tattersoll.)
Although Anegada’s first introduction to the age of air travel had little to no effect on the lives of the residents of that remote island, the next airport to be built on Anegada did bring about considerable social change, but not in the way that most airports do. Anegada’s Auguste George Airport was built in 1969 and is located towards the northern part of the Settlement. As its 2,500-foot runway can only accommodate small aircraft, most visitors still arrive on sailboats and the airport has never been a major player in Anegada’s burgeoning tourist industry.
(The airport was named after Captain Auguste George Airport. His daughter, Anegada-born Gracita Faulkner, earned international fame and appeared in leading roles in “La Traviata” and “Faust” for the American Opera Guild.)
Nonetheless, the construction of the Auguste George Airport in 1960 did result in major changes in the lives and lifestyles of the residents of Anegada. The story of how this came about begins with the unorthodox nature and history of land ownership on the island…. read more
St. John Virgin Islands News
Police Investigate Tourist’s Death at St. John Villa
By Source Staff — March 3, 2014
Police are investigating the death of a woman at a private villa on St. John. The incident was reported to 911 emergency dispatch Sunday morning.
According to preliminary information from the V.I. Police Department, officers interviewed a man who said he and his wife were on vacation from Virginia and had an argument at the villa. The man said after the argument he slept outside the rental property in his vehicle. The next morning he tried to enter to the villa but could not gain access.
He called for assistance to get inside and, once inside, discovered the unresponsive body of his 41-year-old wife.
Scattered showers, mainly before noon. Mostly sunny, with a high near 77. Northeast wind 14 to 16 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible.
The following events took place some years back and illustrates a unique Virgin Islands experience.
Macy’s in NYC, that is, THE Macys on 34th Street, the one where the REAL Santa Claus comes to greet children at Christmas time, was a great place to shop for housewares back then, when St. John housewares shopping was just about non-existent and St. Thomas offered only limited (and expensive) options. Additionally Macy’s was offering a special shopping service in which they would consolidate shopping from various departments and arrange for shipping. So being that I had a newly built villa to furnish, I choose to avail myself of this convenient and affordable offer.
After spending a couple of hours, going from department to department choosing items for the villa, I proceeded to the check out counter to pay up and arrange for shipping. But when the shipping destination came up and proved to be the Virgin Islands, the lady at the counter informed us that Macy’s only shipped with UPS, which had only very expensive options for the Virgin Islands. When I asked if it would be possible to ship through the US Postal service, I was told that it couldn’t be done.
Why not? I asked.
“That’s just our policy,” she explained.
Meanwhile this pretty young black lady, also working for Macy’s, apparently overheard a snippet of our conversation.
“Where are you from?” she asked.
“The Caribbean,” I answered.
“Me too,” she replied.
“Where?” I asked
“Oh, an island in the British Virgin Islands. You probably never heard of it,” she answered.
At this point, I noticed her name-tag that displayed the last name Parsons.
“Let me guess, I ventured. “I would say you’re from Tortola, probably Brewers Bay.”
“Oh, my God!’ she exclaimed. “How did you know?”
“Well, I have this friend from there, Delbert, and I know that the Parsons name is an important one on Brewers Bay.”
“Oh, my God!” she repeated, “Uncle Delbert!”
She then turned to the lady that was attending to us and said that she would take care of us. When we explained our situation, she told us not to worry.
“There’s a post office right on the fourth floor. Tony, a Jamaican who works here, can take your things up there and we’ll arrange everything, no problem a’tahl.”
Beach-to-Beach Power Swim Ranked No. 19 in World’s Best 100 Open Water Swims By Source Staff — February 25, 2014
Openwaterswimming.com, the leading Web site dedicated to open water swimming, ranked the Friends’ Beach-to-Beach Power Swim number 19 on their list of the World’s 100 Best Open Water Swims. This is an international list, and it also placed third among the 17 U.S. open water swims that made the list…. read more
The United States Virgin Islands saw strong growth in cruise tourism in 2013, according to data from the Caribbean Tourism Organization.
Cruise passenger visits to the USVI grew by 4.9 percent last year, with a total of 1,998,579 cruise passengers.
That was among the largest improvements of any Caribbean destination with complete annual reporting from 2013.
It was also a marked improvement over the previous year, when the US Virgin Islands experienced a 5.2 percent reduction in cruise tourism compared to 2011.
In 2012, the USVI welcomed 1,904,468 cruise passengers, according to CTO data.
V.I. AG’s office reviewing federal cockfighting law By JENNY KANE (Daily News Staff)
Published: February 24, 2014
ST. THOMAS – The rules on cockfighting have changed in the United States, and V.I. officials are seeking clarification on what effect the changes to federal law will have on the lack of any laws in the Virgin Islands that prohibit cockfighting.
The only law pertaining to cockfighting in the V.I. Code pertains to taxing it as an entertainment when admission is charged, which up until now has implicitly made it legal in the territory.
Earlier this month, President Barack Obama signed the 2014 Farm Bill, also known as the Agricultural Act of 2014. As of last week, a provision in the bill makes it a federal crime to attend an animal fight, including a cockfight, and a separate crime to bring a child under the age of 16 to an animal fight.
The former could be punishable by up to one year in prison and a $100,000 fine, and the latter by up to three years and a $250,00 fine. During a cockfight, roosters are placed in pen and left to fight each other until one of the two dies. By themselves, their fighting generally is not enough to be fatal, so those who own the roosters often place razor blades on the legs of the animals, according to the website of the Humane Society of the United States.
Though most states in the nation outlawed the practice years ago, several of the country’s territories, including the Virgin Islands, maintain laws that allow cockfights to take place.
Under the V.I. Code, cockfighting is considered entertainment – along with circuses, horse races, theatrical performances, boxing matches and concerts – that is taxable when an admission is charged to attend…. read more
Scattered showers, mainly before noon. Mostly sunny, with a high near 76. East wind 13 to 16 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.
The Lind Point Trail is a favorite hike for people coming to St. John by ferry or for those who don’t have a vehicle. That’s because the trail is within easy walking distance of downtown Cruz Bay and offers not only a great trail experience such as the great views from the Lind Point Battery Overlook, but also access to the beautiful beaches and snorkeling at Salomon and Honeymoon Bays.
But day-trippers are not the only ones who choose to experience the Lind Point Trail and most of these hikers arrive by vehicle. This presents a problem. Finding a place to park near the trail can be difficult, to say the least.
Now the Virgin Islands National Park offers a solution, of sorts. Hikers bound for the Lind Point Trail can go to the National Park Visitors Center located just across the street from the trailhead and obtain a parking permit that allows them to park in spaces reserved for the park employees. You’ll need to show the attendant at the center your drivers license, which they will hold until you get back. They will then issue you a sign for you to place on your windshield. Be aware that empty employee’s parking spaces are limited and are often unavailable, and that parking anywhere else on the street will put you in danger of being ticketed by enforcement rangers.
Park back wheels to the curb, windshield facing out towards the street and enjoy your hike.
St. John and Virgin Islands News
List of the Friendliest Islands in the Caribbean from the Huffington Post
St. John came in number six, with the annotation: “What’s even nicer than “soft sand beaches” and “water that’s clear like glass”? The “warm, kind locals,” according to our readers—they’re ‘”friendly and welcoming, without pestering you.”‘
St. John was topped by the British Virgin Islands, which came in number five.
Vieques was number nine, and the number one spot went to the island of Saba…. read article
In another list compiled by the Nassau Guardian the Virgin Islands came in fourth:
Report Ranks V.I. Homicide Rate Fourth in Caribbean
By John Baur — January 16, 2014
The U.S. Virgin Islands rated fourth in the Caribbean in 2013 in the number of homicides per 100,000 residents, according to a study by the Nassau Guardian in the Bahamas.
Bordeaux Farmers Rastafari Fair This Weekend By Molly Morris — January 16, 2014
It’s time again to gather up family and friends and head out to the rolling green hills of Bordeaux for the 17th annual Bordeaux Farmers Rastafari Agricultural and Cultural Food Fair on Saturday and Sunday. You’ll have no trouble finding it; just head west on St. Thomas and follow your nose. The heady aromas of fresh food will lead you.
The fair bursts with fresh produce, herbs, vegetables, cook pots filled with pumpkin soup, kallaloo, homemade vegan and raw food, pumpkin fritters – it goes on as it has for years, the annual celebration of all that is right with the world. It runs from 10 a.m. to midnight or thereabouts each day.
The fair is the proud product of the Bordeaux Farmers Collective We Grow Food Inc., illustrating the group’s belief: “To lose agriculture is to lose our culture, integrity, self-worth and pride. Without these characteristics, we as a people fail to exist.”… read more
There are several places on St. John, especially on the north shore between Trunk and Cinnamon Bays, where your phone may pick up a signal from the British Virgin Islands that will result in exorbitant roaming charges. If you are in one of these locations, your phone will display “Lime” instead of AT&T, Sprint, Verizon etc. On my iPhone the name of the carrier and signal strength are displayed on the top left corner of the phone. Look out for “Lime” or Boat Phone,” they’re BVI-based and calls will be expensive. Ironically, when on Jost Van Dyke and parts of Tortola where the cell signal will be handled cheaply by US Virgin Islands carriers. Check your phone to make sure.
Besides calls, the other danger occurs when you’re using mobile data like Safari, Google, Facebook, email or any other internet based app and you inadvertently move to an area where you’re picking up a BVI signal, in which case your cost for the data will skyrocket.
The best way to prevent this is to simply turn of data roaming on your phone.
(Data roaming means using mobile data in another country where charges are considerably higher than in the US when using the Internet abroad.)
To turn off data roaming:
1- From the home screen tap Settings
2- Select General and then choose Mobile Data. On some iPhones, this might be called Cellular instead. On older versions of iOS, look for Network.
3- Choose Data Roaming and select Off
Android Go to Settings
Select Wireless & networks
Select Mobile networks
Make sure the Data roaming option is not checked
The William Thornton aka Willy T is a floating bar and restaurant that has been anchored in the Bight off Norman Island since 1985. The original Willy T was a wooden Baltic Schooner built in 1935, which sank at its mooring in 1995. The Willy T is most famous for some of the outrageous activities that regulatory occur aboard, especially during and after their popular Happy Hour. I’m talking ladies with no bathing suit tops, group activities such as body shots, shotski’s (shots lined up on a water ski) ladies and gentlemen publicly having Willy T Temporary Tattoos applied to various body parts and of course, the now forbidden, but done anyway, jumping off the deck, more often topless than not.
– shotski’s- topless jumping off the deck – tattoos – body shots
St. John News
NOAA to Hold Public Meetings on Proposed Endangered Corals
By Lynda Lohr — February 1, 2013
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will hold meetings next week to discuss the agency’s proposal to include 66 coral species on the Endangered or Threatened Species List. Seven of those proposed for the endangered list are in the Caribbean. Two are proposed for the threatened list…. read more
St. John Weather
Clear with rain showers in the morning, then partly cloudy
High of 82 degrees F.
Breezy: Winds from the East at 10 to 20 mph.
Sunrise: 6:51 AM AST – Sunset: 6:14 PM AST
Water Temperature (Charlotte Amalie Harbor, St. Thomas) 82.9 degrees F
St. John Live Music Schedule Sunday February 3
3:30 – 6:30
Get Right Band
Sunday Brunch 10:00 am
Cruz Bay Prime
7:00 – 10:00
Lemuel Callwood Steel Pan
4:00 – 6:00
10:00 am – 2:00 pm
6:30 – 9:00
7:00 – 10:00
7:00 – 10:00
Sun Dog Cafe
11:00 am- 2:00 pm
Directed by Sofie Delaage, 45 minutes, Comedy, 2006.
Poor Adolpho yearns for life beyond his broken-down taxi and plots a journey across the sea in this contemporary Cuban comedy of errors.
CON EL TOQUE DE LA CHAVETA
Directed by Pamela Sporn, 28 minutes, Documentary, 2007. In the cigar factories of Cuba, a unique tradition persists: ‘la lectura de tabaqueria’. Every day, specially employed workers read aloud to hundreds of tabaqueros as they sit rolling the country’s famous cigars. From classic novels to national politics and local baseball results, for centuries this daily tradition has been an education for the workers, or chavetas. But after years of listening, they are knowledgeable and demanding, and the readers must be at their very best if they are to keep their discerning audience interested.
Directed by Catherine Murphy, 33 minutes, Documentary, 2011.
Cuba, 1961: 250,000 volunteers taught 700,000 people to read and write in one year. 100,000 of the teachers were under 18 years old, over half were women. The Bay of Pigs invasion impacted the women and the literacy campaign. The young women who went out to teach literacy in rural communities across the island found themselves deeply transformed in the process. This documentary includes the oral history of one of contemporary Cuba’s greatest achievements in present day interviews with the volunteer teachers, archival footage, and still photos from the sixties.
St. John Weather
Mostly cloudy with rain showers in the morning, then overcast
High of 81 degrees F.
Breezy: Winds from the West at 10 to 20 mph shifting to the NNW in the afternoon
Sunrise: 6:52 AM AST – Sunset: 6:13 PM AST
Water temperature (Charlotte Amalie Harbor, St. Thomas) 82.9 degrees
St. John Live Music Schedule, Friday February 1
5:30 – 8:30
Barefoot Cowboy Lounge
7:00 – 9:00
Don Dilego Band
Mikey P 8:00
Dance Party 11:00
Eddie Bruce Drum Circle
6:30 – 8:00
Bo & Lauren
6:30 – 9:00
Inn at Tamarind Court
6:00 – 9:00
Get Right Band
6:00 – 9:30
6:30 – 9:00
7:00 – 10:00
5:00 – 8:00
Chris Carsel & Company
6:30 – 9:30
Enjoy the spectacular views from Ram Head Point! From the BVI to St. Croix to St. Thomas and beyond. Take the Ram Head Trail from Salt Pond Bay. For more information on St. John beaches, trails and points of interest check out St. John Off the Beaten Track
St. John Weather
Partly cloudy with rain showers
High of 82 degrees F.
Breezy: Winds from the East at 20 to 25 mph.
Chance of rain 30%.
Sunrise: 6:52 AM AST – Sunset: 5:58 PM AST
Water Temperature (Charlotte Amalie Harbor) 82.9 degrees F
My first visit to West End (Sopers Hole) was in the 1970s. I was tied up along the seawall at Charlotte Amalie and approached by an agent from St. Thomas Dairies who hired me to deliver a load of milk to West End on Tortola. For some reason they couldn’t do it themselves that day, presumably due to one of the many contingencies that was, and still is, likely to occur here in the islands.
Arriving at customs at West End, I noticed a monument dedicated to the arrival of the Queen of England on her first visit to Tortola. A brass plaque read something like “where the Queen first stepped foot on the BVI.” Interestingly enough, the dedication was located far enough away from the edge of the dock that the Queen would have to have a have taken a mighty leap to set her royal foot down that far away from whatever vessel she was on that tied up to the dock.
Commenting on this to a BVI local, it was explained that the original monument was indeed erected at the exact spot where the Queen actually stepped foot. (see above photo) In actual practice, however, this was an inconvenient place for the monument as it interfered with the loading and offloading of cargo on the dock.
It was in response to this difficulty the dedication was moved away from the loading area, explaining the British monarch’s seemingly extraordinary disembarkation at Soper’s Hole on the island of Tortola, BVI.
St. John Live Music – Friday April 13
Aqua Bistro – Steve Sloan – 5:30 – 8:30 – 776-5336 Beach Bar – Jon Beninghof Band – 9:00 – 777-4220 Castaways – Mikey P – 9:00 – 777-3316 Cinnamon Bay – Eddie Bruce Drum Circle – 6:30 – 8:00 Cruz Bay Prime – James Cobb – 7:00 – 10:00 – 693 -8000 Driftwood Dave’s – John W Lee -7:00 – 10:00 – 777-4015 Island Blues – Slammin – 776 6800 Morgan’s Mango – Lauren – 6:00 – 9:30 – 693-8141 Ocean Grill – T-Bird – 6:30 – 9:00 – 693-3304 Rhumblines – Erin Hart – 7:00 – 10:00 Spyglass – James – 5:00 – 8:00 – 776-1100
Dead Chest Island lies a little less than a half mile north east of Deadman’s Bay on Peter Island in the British Virgin islands (BVI). It’s a small scrubby cay with no fresh water and no big trees for shade. Legend has it that the notorious pirate Blackbeard punished a number of his crew by marooning them on the island for 30 days leaving each man with only a cutlass and a bottle of rum. By the time Blackbeard returned to the cay, most of the pirates had perished.
When Robert Louis Stevenson wrote Treasure Island, which was modeled after nearby Norman Island, he included the well known ditty:
“Fifteen Men on the dead man’s Chest,
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
Drink and the devil had done for the rest
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum.”
Dead Man’s Chest, being one of the names given to what today is called Dead Chest Island.
In 1994, the record of the surviving pirates of dead Chest island was broken by journalist, Quentin van Marle who marooned himself for 31 days on the inhospitable island. Van Marle wrote the book, Marooned, 31 Days on Dead Man’s Chest about the ordeal.
Van Marle explains: “In 1994, in conjunction with the Sunday Times, and in some sort of honour to Robert Louis Stevenson and Treasure Island, I deliberately marooned myself on the uninhabited island of Dead Man’s Chest (part of the British Virgin Islands). Surviving for a month on a barren rock of 300 square metres by 100 metres high was a tough call. The book is a weekly diary of what became quite an ordeal. I don’t think I’ll be doing that again.”
St. John Live Music Schedule Monday March 19
High Tide – Mikey P – 8:00 – 11:00 – 714-6169 La Tapa – Samba Combo – 6:30 – 9:30 – 693-8141 Maho Bay Camp – Open Mic with Lauren -6:30 Ocean Grill – Chris Carsel – 6:30 – 9:00 – 693-3304