Paddle Boarder Circumnavigates St. Thomas and St. John

St. John Brewers co-founder Chirag Vyas greets ultramarathon paddle boarder Shane Perrin as he comes ashore for a brief respite at Bolongo Bay

Ultramarathon Paddle Boarder Circumnavigates St. Thomas, St. John to Kick Off 2015 Adventure Challenge
From Andrea Milam

Paddle boarding has earned its place as a leisure sport in the Virgin Islands, with young and old alike taking to calm bay waters as a means of sightseeing and exercise. But no one had attempted to continuously circumnavigate St. Thomas and St. John — until June 14 and 15, when professional ultramarathon paddle boarder Shane Perrin took on the extreme challenge.

The 71-mile adventure took Perrin 33 hours and 57 minutes to complete, including the single hour of sleep that he stole during the early morning hours on Honeymoon Bay. Perrin is sponsored by Vertical Oar, a hub for stand up paddle boarders founded by J-P. Pesare, a childhood friend of St. John Brewers co-owner Chirag Vyas, along with his two partners Rafael Mercado and Rick Fitzpatrick.

“We’d had discussions with Vertical Oar about doing something unique in the V.I.,” said Vyas. “We wanted to showcase the potential for ultramarathon paddle boarding here in the islands.”

Perrin’s grueling adventure began at 7 a.m. on Saturday, June 14, when he launched from Cruz Bay beach. He crossed Pillsbury Sound, then headed west along St. Thomas’s south shore.

“When I turned the corner on the west side of St. Thomas near Mermaid’s Chair, it got nasty and I was just flat out blasted with wind,” said Perrin. “There were headwinds and nasty swells, and if I stopped paddling I just went backwards at a pretty quick pace. After leaving Hull Bay, there was cross chop bouncing off the rocks and just washing me all around.”

Perrin took brief respites at various beaches as he made his way along St. Thomas’s north shore before heading back across Pillsbury Sound for St. John — in the middle of the night.

“Coming back toward Cruz Bay, there was a nasty wind coming through plus ferry boat traffic, other boat traffic, and huge swells rolling across,” said Perrin. “I hit the worst area when I couldn’t read the conditions well, so instead of timing things like I can during the day, it was more just reacting to the waves that came. The moon definitely helped, but I fell in a lot.”

Perrin continued on with his circumnavigation of St. John, again facing difficult conditions at Ram Head before meeting up with Vyas and the Vertical Oar crew at Salt Pond Bay for a brief moment of relief. He then paddled about three miles offshore to take advantage of a downwind that helped him complete his journey back into Cruz Bay, where he arrived at 4:45 p.m. Sunday afternoon.

At that point, not only did Perrin remain upright, he joined a cocktail hour in his honor at Motu, where he chatted with patrons. Perrin’s extreme paddle boarding adventure is amazing in its own right, but what makes his feat even more astounding is the fact that Perrin is a kidney transplant survivor. He essentially pioneered the sport of ultramarathon paddle boarding in 2011, when he decided to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the transplant by competing in a 340-mile-long kayak race — on his paddle board.

“It was a huge challenge, and I didn’t know what the impact would be; I just looked at it as a personal celebration,” said Perrin. “Out of 117 kayaks, I was the only paddle boarder and I placed 34th. I shocked people.”

Since then, Perrin has paddled thousands of miles in various races and expeditions, and ultramarathon paddling has taken on a life of its own. Perrin’s circumnavigation of St. Thomas and St. John was a kick-off of sorts for an event that St. John Brewers and Vertical Oar are planning for next year.

“We have some other things planned including an event next year that will essentially be a combination race/adventure challenge,” said Pesare. “We’re trying to incorporate Survivor meets the Amazing Race meets stand up paddle boarding meets eco-challenge. We’re going to try and bring business to the Virgin Islands while increasing the awareness of what you can do with stand up paddle boarding.”

St. John Events

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St. John Weather

Isolated showers. Mostly sunny, with a high near 82. East wind around 16 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

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Feather Duster Worm (Sabellidae)

 

feather duster wormI videoed this creature on the reef between Salomon and Honeymoon Beaches. They always fascinate me, because they certainly don’t look like worms to me. The worm attached itself to a rock or  coral by a hard shell-like tube. The feathery tentacles protrude, but will quickly withdraw to the safety of the tube if threatened.

St. John Events

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St. John Weather

Scattered showers, mainly before noon. Mostly sunny, with a high near 80. East wind around 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible.

St. John and Virgin Islands News

Education Officials on Hot Seat as Senate Discusses Guy Benjamin School Closure

The senators at Monday’s Education and Workforce Committee meeting pushed and prodded Education Department officials about the Guy Benjamin School closure but came away unsatisfied with the answers.

PSC Board Approves LEAC Decrease

During a lengthy meeting Monday night, the Public Services Commission approved a drop in electric and water Levelized Energy Adjustment Clause rates, reducing the average residential bill by 53 cents a month.

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St. John Marine Life: Scrawled Cowfish

scrawled cowfish
Juvenile Scrawled Cowfish (Acanthostracion quadricornis)

This scrawled cowfish, Acanthostracion quadricornis, was videoed yesterday on the reef that lies between Salomon and Honeymoon Beaches. It was just a little guy, about six inches long. They like to eat little crabs and other small invertebrates, but this one kept getting chased away from its meals by little damselfish.

St. John Happenings

Children’s Village – VI National Park Ballpark Field 6:00 p.m.

St. John Live Music

St. John News

Food Fair Honors Woodturner Avelino Samuel

Governor’s Reading Challenge Hits Big on St. John

St. John Weather

Isolated showers. Mostly sunny, with a high near 82. East wind around 16 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

 

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Trunk Bay Overlook on a Clear Friday Afternoon

With the dissipation of the Sahara dust that has been over the territory, yesterday’s skies were brilliantly clear and blue. The forecast for tomorrow, however, is for another even stronger bout with the sandstorms over the African dessert. Consequently, I took advantage of the small window to shoot a short video from the popular photographer’s perch at the Trunk Bay Overlook.

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St. John Weather

Isolated showers before 2am. Widespread haze after 2am. Mostly clear, with a low around 76. East northeast wind around 18 mph. Chance of precipitation is 10%.

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St. John Native Flora: Black Caper

St. John USVI Flora:Black Caper

When landscaping your property on St. John, a good idea is to think native plants. They’re just as attractive as expensive exotic plants shipped in from Florida nurseries and present far less problems. They are drought resistant. You don’t have to irrigate or water. They’re pest resistant. You don’t have to constantly spray with poisonous chemicals. And in the event of a powerful storm they may be broken or knocked over, but they will come right back  after the storm subsides.

The black caper (Capparis cynopallophora) is a good example of a beautiful native tree that thrives in dry forest conditions. Native to both the Virgin Islands and Florida, some St. Johnians have unnecessarily purchased them from Florida nurseries and had them shipped to St. John.

Black Caper Flowers and Seedpods
The black caper flowers open white and later turn pink

black caper juvenile leaves
The juvenile black caper leaves are quite different that those of the mature tree

black caper pink flowers
The flowers of the black caper are pleasantly fragrant as well as attractive

Black caper seed pod
Seedpod

seedpod partly open
Partially open seedpod

opened seedpod
The red-colored inside of the black caper seedpod

St. John and Virgin Islands News

USA Today published their choice for the top five U.S. Virgin Islands dive sites:

St. Croix: Frederiksted Pier
St. Thomas: Cow and Calf
St. John: Eagle Shoals
St. Croix: Butler Bay
St. Croix: Cane Bay

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St. John Weather

Isolated showers before noon. Sunny, with a high near 82. East wind around 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 10%.

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Throttled!

throt·tle verb
1 – to choke or strangle (someone)
2 – to defeat (someone or something) easily or completely
3 – to not allow (something) to grow or develop

It seems that Choice Communications has chosen an appropriate term, “throttling,” to describe their practice of slowing down their delivered internet speed to a veritable crawl as punishment for going over an allotted amount of download data.

The practice of throttling by Choice is well hidden, actually, it’s not mentioned at all, as far as their advertising and website is concerned. On the Choice website they even boast: “You don’t have to sign a mega contract to get unlimited megabytes! Get all the data you need from Choice Wireless, no strings attached.

data speed offer
Deceptive Advertising?

There are, in fact, some strings attached. The threshold for throttling is 75 gigabytes per month, a number that can easily be reached if one uses the internet for downloading large files, playing games online,  or streaming such things as You Tube, Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, etc. If you’re not using the internet for these things, it makes little sense to pay for high speed.

Speed TestAfter being throttled after a mere ten days of usage my data was slowed to .14 mbps or 1/35 of the “seemingly promised” speed offered by choice. Believe me, this is REALLY slow! If you depend on the internet for business, this can be quite frustrating and damaging to your business.

The nice Choice representative that I spoke with when terminating my Choice service explained that Choice does indeed warn customers that they will be throttled if they use more than 75 Gigabytes. It’s quite a stretch, but here’s how he explains it:

It seems that at the very bottom of the page, just underneath the blue banner bar touting:

NO CONTRACTS – NO CREDIT CHECKS – NO OVERAGES – NO LIMITS

No Overages

In the small print, clicking on “terms and conditions,” paragraph six, section (e) explains that:

We may, without liability, limit, interrupt, terminate, or refuse to provide a Service for the following reasons, or for any other good cause: … (e) if your Service is used in a manner that is excessive or unreasonable with respect to volume or length of calls when compared to the predominant volume or length of call of other Choice customers in your geographic area, or …

Actual Speed
Looking at the Choice website, it may seem that Choice is offering a variety of different speeds for different plans. The high speed plan seemingly offers a speed of 5 mbps. In fact, the speeds are often quite less than advertised.

The discrepancy was explained to me by a Choice customer service representative, who I called to ask why my internet speed was so slow that it was ineffective for video streaming even though I was paying for a high speed of 5 mbps. (I was not being throttled at the time)

“No sir,” the rep said, “we offer speeds of up to 5 mbps.”

Notice the difference in explanation of promised speed offered by VI Broadband offering “speeds of at least 5 mbps.”

“Up to”

VI broadband
At least

In short, if you are considering applying for new or changing you current internet provider, beware of deceptive advertising, poor service and high installation costs. Check thoroughly before choosing an internet provider to make sure that they really do meet your needs at a reasonable price.

St. John Live Music Schedule

Banana Deck
Steel Pan by Lemuel Samuels
7:00 – 9:00
340-693-5055

Barefoot Cowboy Lounge
Ike
6:30 -9:30
340-201-1236

Concordia
Wayne Clendenin and Pamela Love
4:30 – 6:30
340-693-5855

High Tide
Erin Hart
5:00 – 8:00
340-714-6169

Inn at Tamarind Court
Brother Nature
6:30 – 9:30
340-776-6378

Island Blues
Gann – Solo guitar
7:00 – 10:00
340-776-6800

Miss Lucy’s
Rich & Greg
6:00 – 9:00
340-693-5244

Morgan’s Mango
James Anderson
6:30 – 9:30
340-693-8141

Ocean Grill
Chris Carsel
6:00 – 9:00
340-693-3304

Pickles
T-Bird
6:00 – 8:00
340-776-6908

Skinny Legs
Lauren Jones
6:00 – 9:00
340-779-4982<

Spyglass
James Milne
5:00 – 8:00
340-776-1100

See Weekly Schedule

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Sahara Dust

View of Sahara Dust at Great Cruz Bay
Sahara Dust causing gray skies and obscuring the view of St. Thomas from Great Cruz Bay on St. John

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.

– See more at:https://seestjohn.com/st_john_life/life-on-st-john/st-john-weather-sahara-dust-conditions/#sthash.J4eIodn4.dpuf

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 its 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.

St. John Events

St John Film Presents: Blackfish
A scene from Blackfish

ST JOHN FILM SOCIETY PRESENTS: “Blackfish”
DATE: Tuesday, June 3, 2014 TIME: 7:30 pm
PLACE: St John School of the Arts, Cruz Bay
Suggested donation $5.00 or become a 2014 SJFS Member ($35. individual, $50.00 family)

Blackfish tells the story of Tilikum, a performing killer whale that has taken the lives of several people while in captivity.  Director-producer Gabriela Cowperthwaite compiles shocking footage and emotional interviews to explore the creature’s extraordinary nature, the species’ cruel treatment in captivity, the lives and losses of the trainers and the pressures brought to bear by the multi-billion dollar sea-park industry.

Many of us have experienced the excitement and awe of watching 8,000 pound orcas, or “killer whales,” soar out of the water and fly through the air at sea parks, as if in perfect harmony with their trainers. Yet this mighty black and white mammal has many sides – a majestic, friendly giant, seemingly eager to take trainers for a ride around the pool, yet shockingly – and unpredictably – able to turn on them at…

St. John Live Music Schedule

Barefoot Cowboy Lounge
Erin Hart
6:30 – 9:30
340-201-1236

Castaway’s
Karaoke Night
9:00 pm – 2:00 am
340-777-3316

High Tide
Chris Carsel
6:00 9:00
340-714-6169

Inn at Tamarind Court
Steel Pan
6:30
340-776-6378

Island Blues
Karaoke
8:00
340-776-6800

La Tapa
Sambacombo
6:30 – 9:30
340-693-7755

Morgan’s Mango
Greg Kinslow
6:30 – 9:30
340-693-8141

Ocean Grill
Lauren Jones
6:00 – 9:00
340-693-3304

St. John Weather

Isolated showers before noon. Sunny, with a high near 83. Southeast wind 6 to 11 mph. Chance of precipitation is 10%.

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