Posts Tagged “hawksnest”
Apr 27 2010
Apr 23 2010
Reef Fest On the Beach
Come to Hawksnest Beach on Saturday and enjoy, snorkel clinics, underwater guided reef tours, kayaking and sand castle contests.
Apr 22 2010
If you look on the east side of the steep hill going down to Hawksnest Bay you should see an old stone stairway. This was once the entrance to a house that at one time belonged to Laurance Rockefeller. The house eventually became the property of the Virgin Islands National Park and was demolished. Nothing remains.
Today if you climb the staircase you’ll notice a trail leading through the bromiliads that takes you to the ruins of a stone structure that is said to have once belonged to Peter Duurloo, born on the island of Statia in 1675 and died on St. John 1746. I have also seen his name spelled Durloo and Durloe. The three islands, Henley Cay, Ramgoat Cay and Rata Cay are collectively known as the Durloe Cays and were undoubtedly named after him
Peter Durloo was one of the original planters who took possession of parcels of land on St. John when the Danes laid claim to the island in 1716. Durloo took up what is now some prime real estate, Cinnamon Bay and Caneel Bay, which he named for the bay rum trees (Caneel in Dutch) that were so plentiful there.
Charlotte Dean Stark, who wrote Some True Tales and Legends about Caneel Bay Trunk Bay and a Hundred and One Other Places on St. John, had this to say about Mr. Durloo:
“He was a colored man from one of the more southerly islands, probably Satia, where the Dutch were struggling to keep their foothold. It seems likely that most of the Dutch planters in St. Thomas were the colored sons of Hollanders who had been brought up by their fathers to learn the business, whatever it might be. Not many women went out with the original explorers who seized islands in the chain to the south of us.”
The site has been cleared by Jeff Chabot and his volunteers, but is unlikely to stay that way. So if you’re interested in a little history and don’t mind the uphill walk from the Hawksnest parking lot, you may want to pay a visit while the visiting is good.
Nov 12 2009
Just to the west of the popular Hawksnest Beach, lies a much smaller and far less visited stretch of soft coral sand known as Little Hawksnest.
I revisited this little beach yesterday and realized that it has been some time since I had been there. The tide was high and the surf was up (our St. John winter season is just about upon us) and there wasn’t much beach to speak of with waves washing up almost to the vegetation line.
It isn’t always this way and on more normal days one can find a quiet little beach just to the west of the public beach.
To get to Little Hawksnest, you’ll need to walk to the far western end of the public beach, take the trail through the woods that parallels the shore until you get to the rocky coastline separating the two beaches. A relativity easy scramble will bring you to the beach.
Thinking back (all the way to 1972) I remember attending the wedding of Charlie Deyalsingh (Trinidad Charlie) and Cathy Hartford on this very beach, where among other festivities we had a pig roast.
Remember I said relatively easy scramble, but thinking about it, setting up a pig roast on that beach must have been fairly challenging. I guess we all were a lot tougher in those days.
Apr 27 2009
Romanticized tales of pirates and buried treasures have become an important part of West Indian lore, capturing the imaginations of both young and old. Former St. John residents, John and Jennifer Campbell and their children, were no exceptions. They loved to read and listen to stories about the pirates that haunted the Caribbean in the old colonial days.
Some years ago when Ross, one of the Campbell children, was about to celebrate his birthday, John and Jennifer organized a party at the public beach at Hawksnest Bay. The theme of the party was pirates.
The “adult” Campbells hatched up an elaborate scheme. An authentic-looking treasure chest was made out of an old wooden box and filled with “silver and gold” (pennies and nickels) and rare spices (candies and cookies) garnered from the four corners of the globe. The pirate chest was then buried just under the surface of the sand alongside a sea grape tree at Hawksnest Beach.
Next a treasure map was drawn using paper which had been burned on the edges to make it look old and mysterious. The map contained easy and explicit instructions as to the whereabouts of the fabulous pirate treasure.
The pirates were recruited from among John’s friends and colleagues. They wore eye patches and bandanas and carried pirate swords (machetes). A black 19-foot Zodiac served as “the pirate ship” which flew a large Jolly Roger so everyone would know that those on board were genuine buccaneers.
When the children arrived at the beach for the birthday party, they were informed that pirates had been seen in the vicinity. If any pirates should come even near the beach, the children were instructed to run and hide as quickly as possible because pirates were, after all, dangerous fellows.
Just about an hour after the start of the party, while the children were playing on the beach, a strange craft was seen approaching Hawksnest from the north. As it came closer one of the children recognized the skull and cross bones of the Jolly Roger flag and correctly identified the vessel. “Pirates!” he shouted, “Hide!”
The children ran for cover under the sea grape and maho trees.
The ominous pirate boat landed on the beach and the motley crew stepped ashore. A mean and nasty looking swashbuckler gazed up and down the beach. “Do you see kids around?” he growled, staring at the sea grape tree under which four or five children were hiding (and spying). This was obviously too much for one little boy who darted out from under the branches and ran, screaming at the top of his lungs, to his mother who did her best to calm the young lad.
“No, no sign of kids around here”, replied another pirate, ignoring the sobs of the frightened child.
“Who has the map?” queried a one-eyed buccaneer. “It’s right here”, answered the pirate captain, who looked a little like John Campbell, but more fierce. “Let’s bury it where no one will EVER find it”, he said, as he hid the map under a few inches of sand, seeming to be unaware that the eyes of more than a dozen children were following his every move.
With the map and treasure well hidden and the day’s mission accomplished, the brigands boarded their craft and headed out to the blue Caribbean.
As the pirates sped off they could a hear a tourist kid, who had been watching the drama unfold from down the beach, ask his mother “Were those real pirates, mom?” Meanwhile, with the buccaneers only a short distance offshore, one of the braver birthday party kids came out of hiding and ran to the sandy area where he had seen the pirates stash their secret treasure map.
The pirates returned to Cruz Bay, washed off their pirate makeup, removed their eye patches and put away their swords. They secured the pirate launch, boarded a Nissan pickup and drove back to Hawksnest to join the birthday party.
Upon their arrival at the beach, a gaggle of excited kids surrounded the newcomers and told them all about their recent encounter with real Caribbean pirates, their narrow escape and their recovery of a fabulous buried treasure.