Water

Exploring a Wreck: Chocolate Hole St. John

St. John and Fresh Water

The $5,000 Water Bill
A little incident yesterday had me thinking about water, something we in the Virgin Islands probably think about more than most. I had left the water running while topping off my hot tub for way longer than I should have. It wasn’t so bad, though. I caught it before the cistern was empty, and it certainly wasn’t as bad as what happened to my friend, Danny. He rents out part of his condo on St. Thomas and the lady who’s renting it left the toilet running for more than a month, leaving Danny stuck with a $5,000 plus water bill.

Water in the Good Old Days
None of this would have happened in what we ex pats think of as the good old days. Water was way more precious back then, and we were way more careful. In those days, you had your cistern water and that was it. Not only that, but most cisterns, and most houses for that matter, were considerably smaller than they are today. If you ran out, it was a big problem. No washing, no showers and no flushing and getting more water wasn’t so easy.

There was no WAPA water back then and no desal plants. Caneel Bay had a water catchment and Cinnamon had a series of wells in the gut that ran above the camp.  Any water not provided by nature, that is, from rain or wells came to St. John on a big barge from Puerto Rico. As you might imagine, this was an extremely limited supply to be shared by all those in need. Not only was the supply limited, but so was the delivery system. The only water truck that I can remember, available to bring water to your house,  came from Pimpy H2O and Pimpy only had one truck. So if you ran out of water, which would most likely happen when there was a prolonged dry spell, and everyone else was out of water also, you had a considerable wait to look forward to or, more than likely, you just sat back and prayed for rain.

If It’s Yellow, Let it Mellow
Besides prayer, another option was water conservation, a serious matter back then. Toilets had notices posted above them to alert newcomers that old stateside habits didn’t go over here on St. John. Cutout cardboard signs with hand-drawn illustrations with messages like:

“On this Island in the sun,
We never flush for number one”

or

If it’s yellow, let it mellow,
If it’s brown, flush it down”

When you showered, brushed your teeth or washed dishes, you gave a little squirt of water and turned off the faucet. Only then did you do your scribbling, brushing, cleaning or soaping. That accomplished, you turned on the water, briefly, just enough for a good rinse and turned the water off once again. Consequently, your supply water lasted a long time.

One other thing I remember from the good old days, was that everyone drank cistern water, unlike today when it’s almost unheard of. Notwithstanding the many evil pathogens now presumed to flourish in our cisterns, I never knew of anyone who got even an upset stomach from drinking water that wasn’t store-bought and factory-produced.

Today
Today we use a lot more water. It’s expensive, but fairly easy to come by. A big desalination plant operated by WAPA produces thousands of gallons a day and is stored in giant tanks and there are numerous choices for water delivery trucks. Unlike in decades past, houses, villas and McMansions have swimming pools and Jacuzzis. Visitors to the island as well as many residents shower to there heart’s content. They leave the water running full blast while they brush their and flush the toilet as often as they put it to use. And people don’t think about water as much as they used to, except when they get a $5,000 water bill, I guess.

St. John Weather

High Temperature: 88 degrees
Water Temperature: 81 degrees
Sunset: 6:32 pm
Winds: ESE 10-15 mph
Forecast: Overcast with chance of rain

St. John Live Music Schedule Saturday March 31

Castaways – Dance Party – 11:00 – 777-3316
Driftwood Dave’s
– James Milne – 7:00 – 10:00 – 777-4015
Morgan’s Mango – Luba – 6:00 – 9:30 – 693-8141
Ocean Grill – Rascio on Steel Pan – 6:00 – 9:30 – 693-3304
Rhumblines – Lauren – 7:00 – 10:00
Shipwreck Landing – Mike Miknut – 6:00 – 9:30
Skinny Legs -Hot Club of Coral Bay – 6:30 – 9:30 -779-4982
Spyglass – James Cobb – 5:00 – 8:00 – 776-1100

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St. John Thursday

St. John Beaches: Denis BayDenis Bay

St. John Weather

High Surf Advisory beginning at 3:00 pm
High Temperature: 85 degrees
Water Temperature: 82 degrees
Sunset: 6:32 pm
Winds: ENE gusting to 25 mph
Forecast: Periods of Rain

St. John Live Music Schedule Thursday March 29

Banana Deck – Steel Pan by Lemuel Samuels – 6:00 – 9:00 – 693-5055
Castaways – Dance Party – 11:00 – 777-3316
Driftwood Dave’s – Just Mike – 7:00 – 10:00 – 777-4015
High Tide – Inner Vision – 8:00-11:00 – 714-6169
Island Blues – Ike – 7:00 – 10:00- 776-6800
Morgan’s Mango – Mark Wallace – 6:00 – 9:30 – 693-8141
Ocean Grill – Chris Carsel – 6:30 – 9:00 – 693-3304
Shipwreck Landing – Slammin  -7:00 – 10:00
Skinny Legs – Lauren – 6:00 – 9:00 – 779-4982

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St. John Trails: Francis Bay Trail

St. John Trails: Francis Bay TrailMayan Sun Circle on the Francis Bay Trail
Volunteers working for the Friends of the Virgin Islands National Park have extended the handicap access boardwalk that runs along the Francis Bay Pond, parallel to the beach, all the way from the road to the point on the trail by the big tamarind tree where the trail turns and leads up the hill to another viewing area and the remains of an old residence. At the end of the boardwalk, shaded by the old tamarind trees, there is now a really cool Mayan Sun Circle apparently made out of leftover lumber from the project.

Earthquake Felt on St. John
A relatively weak earthquake felt at 6:54 am with a 3.4 magnitude was close enough to St. John (the epicenter was only 23 miles away from the island) that you could feel the shake, which lasted just a few moments.

St. John Weather
The sky is still dusty due to the presence of dust from the Sahara Desert in Africa and volcanic ash from Montserrat in the Lesser Antilles
High Temperature: 85 degrees
Water temperature: 82 degrees
Sunset: 6:32 pm

St. John Live Music Schedule Wednesday March 28

Aqua Bistro – Rascio on Steel Pan – 5:30 – 8:30 – 776-5336
Castaways – Kenny Floyd – 8:00 – 777-3316
Coconut Coast Studios – St. John Flutes – 776-6944
Cruz Bay Prime – Samba Combo – 7:00 – 10:00 – 693 -8000
Driftwood Dave’s – Paradise People – 7:00 – 10:00 – 777-4015
High Tide – Chris Carsel – 6:00 – 9:00 – 714-6169
Sun Dog Cafe – Wednesday Night Jam – 7:30-10:00 – 244-9713

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St. John Weather: Sahara Dust Conditions

St. John Virgin Islands weather: Sahara Dust

Volcano and Sahara Dust Dirty the Air
By Lynda Lohr — March 26, 2012
After a few days of haze, Monday the air turned dusty and visibility decreased. The problem is a combination of the Soufriere volcano in Montserrat going off combined with Sahara dust blowing across the Atlantic from the Sahara Desert, according to a National Weather Service meteorologist. Read more

Sahara Dust

The Sahara Desert in northern Africa covers a vast landmass almost as large as the United States. Dust Storms sometimes with winds of hurricane force can send up plumes of dust that can be carried by the prevailing winds, such as the Trade Winds, for thousands of miles. So much dust from the African desert has made it’s way to the Caribbean that almost all of the soil found in the Bahamas and the Florida Keys has African origin.

The situation has gotten worse since the 1970s due to poor farming practices in Africa, climate change and the use of four-wheel drive vehicles in the desert that breaks up the hard crust of sand normally found on the surface.

Sahara dust is believed responsible for an increase in childhood asthma in its path and the recent decline in the health of Coral Reefs in the Caribbean, which is thought to be caused by the fungus, Aspergillus, found in the dust.

Today’s Sunrise

St. John SunriseToday’s skies look clearer tan yesterday. With winds shifting the dust conditions should abate somewhat. The dust leftover in the sky did give us a brief moment to photograph a colorful sunrise over Chocolate Hole.

American Eagle to End Puerto Rico – Virgin Islands Flights in 2013
By Lynda Lohr — March 26, 2012
It’s official. After months of rumors swirling around about the end of American Eagle’s flights between San Juan and the territory’s two airports… read more

St. John Live Music Schedule Tuesday March 27

Castaways – Karaoke Night – 9:00 – 777-3316
Driftwood Dave’s – Michael Beason – 8:00 – 777-4015
High Tide – Erin Hart – 6:00 – 9:00 0 714-6169
Island Blues – Karaoke & Open Mic – 8:00 – 11:00 – 776-6800
Morgan’s Mango – Greg Kinslow – 6:00 – 9:30 – 693-8141
Ocean Grill – Rascio on Steel Pan – 6:00 – 9:30 – 693-3304
Shipwreck Landing – Chris Carsel – 6:30 – 9:30
Spyglass – T-Bird – 5:00 – 8:00 – 776-1100

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Sailing St. John South Coast


Yachts sail along St. John’s south coast, spinnakers flying

WAPA to Request Base Rate Increases
By Bill Kossler — March 23, 2012
Facing the possibility of technical default on tens of millions in bonds for not meeting debt-coverage ratios, the V.I. Water and Power Authority will ask for increases to both the electric and water system base rates, its governing board decided Thursday.
… For electricity customers, WAPA is asking for a base rate increase between 2.75 and 3 cents per kilowatt hour. Read full story

St. John Live Music Schedule Monday March 26

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

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St. John Springtime: Hummingbirds

Hummingbird on Aloe Flower

With spring officially here  a few days ago, we see another sign of our St. John springtime, hummingbirds sucking the nectar of the aloe flower.

See hummingbird video

St. John Live Music Schedule Friday March 23

Aqua Bistro – Steve Sloan – 5:30 – 8:30 – 776-5336
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
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

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St. John Springtime: New Flowers – Limes and Mangoes

St. John Flora: Key Lime Flower

St. John Flora: Key Lime
Key Lime Flower

Key Lime Flower
My key lime tree, a gift from my friend, the late John Gibney, is doing its thing again – busting out with flowers and baby limes and promising to be a really good harvest. Meanwhile the flowers are not only pretty to look at, but they smell really good like sweet perfume! Just walking past the tree is an olfactory treat, especially in the early morning.

About the photo:
The flower shown in the photo is about the size of a dime. The little green bud is the beginning of a new key lime

Mango Flower

Mango Flowers
Also popping is my malika mango. There’s plenty of buds now, but with mango’s you have to wait and see. A strong wind can knock off buds or baby mangoes if they haven’t set in real well yet. If the wind is strong enough it can even knock full-sized mangoes to the ground. The other enemy I have to watch out for is the Thrushie Bird, who loves mangoes as much as me. We’ll see, but here’s hoping for the a big successful mango harvest.

St. John Live Music Schedule Thursday March 22

Banana Deck – Steel Pan by Lemuel Samuels – 6:00 – 9:00 – 693-5055
Castaways – Dance Party – 11:00 – 777-3316
Driftwood Dave’s – Just Mike -7:00 – 10:00 – 777-4015
High Tide – Inner Vision – 8:00-11:00 – 714-6169
Island Blues – Ike – 7:00 – 10:00 – 776-6800
Morgan’s Mango – Mark Wallace – 6:00 – 9:30 – 693-8141
Ocean Grill – Chris Carsel – 6:30 – 9:00 – 693-3304
Shipwreck Landing – Slammin – 7:00 – 10:00
Skinny Legs – Lauren – 6:00 – 9:00 – 779-4982

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St. John Birds: Bananaquit

Bananaquit

st john birds: bananaquit
bananaquit

“Yellow bird,
Up high in banana tree,
Yellow bird,
You sit all alone like me…”

bananaquit recording
bananaquit video
bananaquit webpage

St. John Live Music Schedule Wednesday March 21

Aqua Bistro – Rascio on Steel Pan – 5:30 – 8:30 – 776-5336Castaways
Kenny Floyd – 8:00 – 777-3316
Coconut Coast Studios – St. John Flutes – 776-6944
Cruz Bay Prime – Samba Combo – 7:00 – 10:00 – 693 -8000
Driftwood Dave’s – Paradise People – 7:00 – 10:00 – 777-4015
High Tide – Chris Carsel – 6:00 – 9:00 – 714-6169
Sun Dog Cafe – Wednesday Night Jam – 7:30-10:00 – 244-9713

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St. John Fauna: Pearly-Eyed Thrasher

T’rushie

St. John birds: Thrushie
Pearly-Eyed Thrasher (Margarops fuscatus), aka Thrushie Bird

Pearly-eyed thrashers have been described as aggressive and opportunistic. The one in the above photo was waiting for a waitress to step away from a plate of food so that it could descend and steal a bite or two before someone chased it away.

The t'rushie gets my mango

I’ll most likely be fighting my own battle with the Thrushie, which will be coming up when my mangoes are just about ready to eat. My mango tree is in flower and baby mangoes are beginning to form. It looks like a good mango year for both me and the t’rushie dem.

The not so melodic call of the thrushie – Turn Volume Up (mp4)

The not so melodic call of the thrushie – Turn Volume Up (mov)

St. John Live Music Schedule Tuesday March 20

Castaways – Karaoke Night – 9:00 – 777-3316
Driftwood Dave’s – Michael Beason – 8:00 – 777-4015
High Tide – Erin Hart – 6:00 – 9:00 – 714-6169
Island Blues – Karaoke & Open Mic – 8:00 – 11:00 – 776-6800
Morgan’s Mango – Greg Kinslow – 6:00 – 9:30 – 693-8141
Ocean Grill – Rascio on Steel Pan – 6:00 – 9:30 – 693-3304
Shipwreck Landing – Chris Carsel  – 6:30 – 9:30
Spyglass – T-Bird – 5:00 – 8:00 – 776-1100

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St. John Excursions: Dead Chest Island

Dead Chest Island, British Virgin islands

“Fifteen Men on the Dead Man’s Chest”

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

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