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The “Ghost From Jost” Enjoying the View of his Native British Virgin Islands from Ram Head Point, St. John USVI
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
Westin Resort, St. John, Great Cruz Bay, US Virgin Islands (USVI) 10/15/2010
Westin pool drained once again - scheduled for cleaning & resurfacing
Last week I came across the water trucks filling up the Westin Pool and reported that repairs were under way and that the pool would be ready in a day or two. Not so.
Either by mistake or by design, when the pool was filled to a level whereby the pumps could circulate the pool water through the filter system, the mud within the pipes, pump and filters were released into the pool. This resulted in a clean pump and filter system, but a dirty pool.
The pool has been draining and is almost dry and the mud and debris is being cleaned up. Apparently the Westin is taking this opportunity to resurface the pool, something that needs to be done periodically.
The long and the short is that the pool won’t be ready for a while, but my guess is that it will be competed before the Thanksgiving Holiday.
The Beach, Beach Bar and Beach Restaurant
The beach is being cleaned up and should look back to normal soon. The restaurant will need some time as it appears that the hotel may be taking this opportunity to make some improvements as well as repair the flood damage
Kids Club, Arcade and Ballroom
The gym is up and running, but the Kids Club, Arcade, ballroom and conference rooms have all suffered flood damage. At this point everything that got wet has been removed and is either being cleaned up or replaced. Again this might take a while, but again I suspect this too will be ready before the end of November.
The green surfaces have almost all been removed. They will either be replaced or there is talk that the hotel may opt to recover the courts with a hard surface.
Still Lookin' Good!
Playground - Ready to Go
I’ve been receiving a lot of e-mail asking my advice for people scheduled to arrive at the Westin this month. The following is my personal take on the issue:
Visitors should be coming to experience St. John, to me the accommodations are secondary with the caveat that they be comfortable.
The pool is nice, but the beaches are better. The best beaches by far are on the north side of the island, so missing out on the man made beach at the Westin is no big deal. The hotel is even offering a shuttle service to Hawksnest, Trunk and Cinnamon Bays.
The Westin rooms are indeed comfortable, so I would be happy to be on St. John even without all of the normal hotel amenities. The real fun is snorkeling, diving, hiking and the beautiful National Park Beaches – all still available after Otto.
So, I personally would not cancel my plans to come to St. John, with one exception. If you are bringing young children, kids too young to be turned on by snorkeling, hiking, beach going or diving, then no Kids Club, no arcade and no pool would be a big deal and I would reschedule my trip.
There is something for the kids, though, the playground is up and running.
I repeat, this is just me. Please make your own decisions and please continue to monitor the progress at the Westin
Inclement Weather Update
Due to extremely heavy rain October 5-7, 2010, related to Tropical Storm Otto, the area around The Westin St. John Resort & Villas experienced heavy flooding resulting in damage to the property. The resort operations’ team is working quickly to return to normal operations. The resort is open and under limited operations; however, the hotel is waiving all cancellation fees as well as the Resort Charge from now until November 14, 2010.
A resort update:
• Beach Café Restaurant is scheduled to reopen October 27, 2010.
• Snorkel’s Bar & Grill is closed & is scheduled to reopen November 14, 2010.
• The resort is utilizing Cruz Bay Prime as its main restaurant.
• The Pool is closed for repairs & is scheduled to reopen November 14, 2010. Our customers will be able to use the pools located in the Virgin Grand Hillside villas. The resort will also be offering complimentary round trip shuttles at three set times per day to St. John’s most beautiful beaches: Trunk Bay, Cinnamon Bay and Hawks Nest Beach.
• The Kids Club & Arcade are closed but are anticipated to reopen November 10, 2010. Our Activities Department is providing babysitting service as well as activities for all ages around the resort.
• The Tennis Courts are closed & are scheduled to reopen October 27, 2010
• The government has issued an advisory of “swim at your own risk” for all Virgin Islands beaches until the water quality can be tested and deemed safe. For the most up to date information please visit www.dpnr.gov.vi/notices.htm *
• The Westin Work Out Facility & Spa are open.
If you would like to reschedule your upcoming reservation to a later date please contact our Reservations Team at 888 627 7206 or email STJon.01098@Westin.com.
*DPNR update 12:00 noon 10/15/2010
The following beaches meet water quality standards and are safe for swimming or fishing:
Great Cruz Bay
(If these beaches are safe than I would assume that the much cleaner and less impacted beaches of St. John’s north shore are just fine – I’m going for a swim right now)
For us on St. John and in the Virgin Islands Hurricane Earl has come and gone. He was stronger and came earlier than expected. Although not predicted to effect us until late Monday afternoon, conditions deteriorated on Sunday night.
On St. John, boats at anchor suffered the worst of the storm. All the boats in Chocolate Hole were swept from their moorings, save one that later sunk. Several boats were also lost in Great Cruz Bay and Cruz Bay.
Westin Beach, Great Cruz Bay
Floating Dock from Great Cruz Bay Dinghy Landing
Chocolate Hole Beach
Trees were down all over the island and current was out, internet down and cell phones spotty.
Caneel Bay suffered some structural damage and the awning over the dock at the Westin was blown down.
On the BVI matters were worse. On Jost Van Dyke, Sidneys at Little Harbour was pretty much destroyed. Abe’s, also at Little Harbour lost much of their dock. In Great Harbour, Rudy lost his dock. Word from Tortola was bad reporting the loss of many boats. Anegada was the worst hit with widespread damage and flooding.
As you can plainly see, this isn’t the Virgin Islands. This morning finds me enjoying the wonderful world of an American blizzard, in the home of my son, Sean, Astoria, Queens, New York. All in all I have to say that the weather is better on St. John.
The 1966 copy of VI View, lent to me by Maureen Anderson contained one of the chapters of Erva Boulon’s book My Island Kitchen, which was published in its complete form in 1969..
In her blog, Random Thoughts, Bish Denham, Erva’s grand daughter, who grew up on St. John writes about her grandmother.
“…After World War II Grammy ran Trunk Bay as a guest house. She did it without electricity, cooking three meals a day for her guests. John Dos Passos, Dr. Robert Oppenheimer and his wife were among some of her more well-known guests. She gained the reputation for being a superior hostess and an excellent cook. Using local foods, she learned how to prepare them in ways that would please American taste buds. An article was written about her in the cooking section of the New York Times and she wrote a cook-book call My Island Kitchen. I loved having breakfast at her table because she would toast your bread on a charcoal pot set on a small table next to her chair….”
When Trunk Bay was sold to the Virgin Islands National Park, Erva moved over to Maho Bay with a new husband, Bill Thorp, and built another small guest house called “Lille Maho” next to the present Maho Campground, which she operated through the 1960s.
Better late than never, Chin and I drove over to the Wesselhoft home last night to photograph what was to be last time this season for the magnificent display of Christmas decorations jsut above Cruz Bay on Centerline Road.
The Wesselhoft Christmas lights has been a family tradition for many years. When Miss Alma passed away, the family put up the display the following Christmas, but for the next two years the house remained dark on Christmas time. This year Raffy and Carmen, Miss Alma and Mr. Wesselhoft’s children, renewed the tradition. They began a full time workday, on December 8 with the goal of finishing the project in time for Miss Alma’s birthday on December 15th.
Carmen came over on the 8:00 am ferry every morning for that week. She and Raffy worked all day with the help of various volunteers finally calling it a day and returning to St. Thomas on the 9:00 pm boat.
On the night of December 15th, honoring Miss Alma on her birthday, the Wesselhoft family Christmas lights lit up the night with colors and Santas and angels and familiar Christmas scenes.
Turner Point Trail Hike, St. John US Virgin Islands Saturday 01/09/2010
The adventure begins - Haulover Bay, East End, St. John
Ezius Ashley and I arrived at Haulover Bay on the East End of St. John around noon on Saturday. Ezius is only ten years old, but is the best hiker I ever set out on the off the beaten track trails of St. John, with the exception of the infamous Trail Bandit, I must ad.
This was my third attempt at this trail, my last two terminating at the ruins on the ridge above Elk Bay. My goal this time was to descend the other side of the hill to Water Creek, and see the ruins there and more importantly to make my way around the bay to the next point where an old cannon stands partly buried in the sand.
Turner Point Trail Map
We proposed to follow the shoreline of Haulover Bay heading west to the end of the beach. From there, a footpath of sorts leads into the bush rising to the top of the hill that forms the point separating Haulover Bay from Elk Bay and descends down to the cobble beach at the eastern extreme of Elk Bay.
Elk Bay can also be accessed from the south side of the East End Road (heading east) at the top of the last (highest) hill before going down into Haulover, where a trail descends steeply through a dry cactus scrub environment and leads to the beach at Elk Bay.
I find the Haulover access to be much more pleasant, cooler and more scenic, but both ways are possible.
The trail Ezius and I take crossing the headland between Haulover and Elk Bays leads us to some flats where a huge tamarind tree stands in an area surrounded by the skeletons of century plants that have succumbed to the disease that is currently decimating the species on St. John.
Reaching the beach, we begin our walk west on the rocky shore enjoying the rhythmic melodious sound of the cobbles being washed back and forth by the waves. At about the middle of the beach there is a rocky outcropping that we must scramble over. A flat rock along the way provides us with some nice views and cooling ocean breezes.
The next stretch of beach is much the same as before. We continue walking west over the colorful, round cobblestones passing a wrecked boat that had washed up on the beach.
We continue west for about 100 more yards scrambling over a small rocky outcropping, until we find the path, presently marked by pink ribbons that leads into the forest.
After a short walk over the flats behind the beach, the trail leads us up the hillside to the ridge.
ezius cuts away catch n keep
The ruins of several structures lie on the ridge top.
We spend some time exploring the ruins and Ezius helps clear access for a photograph, clipping away a patch of catch n keep.
On the other side of the ridge we pick up a trail going down the hillside. This trail is steeper then the last and it’s not long before we reach more ruins lying along the mangrove lined shore.
ruins at water creek
red mangroves at water creek
We have reached Water Creek a small protected cove completely lined by red mangroves. Snorkelers arriving aboard the sailboat, “Breath,” are exploring the undersea community of fish and sea creatures in the mangrove environment.
The ruins here are in better condition and more easily accessed than those on the ridge. Nearby we find a well, many old bottles and a goats’ skull bleached white by the sun.
In order to reach are goal of photographing the cannon we must bushwhack along the coast to the next point of land. There’s no trail so the going is slow, but we’re intrepid explorers and we emerge from the forest at the rock and sand beach just south of water creek.
There’s our cannon!
We return the way we came, arriving back at Haulover Bay at about 4:00. We had been gone about four hours. I’m tired, Ezius’s battery is still on full charge.