Tag Archives: bvi

Caribbean Flamingo

flamingo brias creek virgin gorda british virgin islands
Caribbean Flamingo

This colorful flamingo lives all by itself on a pond at Brias Creek, on Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands.
He or she must have come from either Anegada, where there are a flock of flamingos living in the big salt pond in the center of the island or from Sir Richard Branson’s Necker Island upon which some 200 flamingos make their home.

Because of its size, my guess is that it came from Anegada as the Necker Island flamingos appear to be smaller than than those from Anegada.

Apparently it has been on Virgin Gorda for some time now, living a solitary existence, which is unusual as flamingos are generally highly social birds and live in large flocks.

An outcast? A loner? Can’t find its way back home?

I’ve also posted a series of photos of the flamingo in flight.

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Soggy Dollar Bar 40th Anniversary Party: More Videos

Sandcastle Hotel, White Bay, Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands
The founders of the Soggy Dollar Bar and Sandcastle Hotel are George and Marie Myrick. They first came to the Caribbean and cruised the island- on the Water Lily, a 53-foot motor-sailer, which they ran as a charter operation and for the owners. They then leased Little Thatch and ran a hotel there. They built the Sandcastle in 1970 and ran it for ten years after which they returned to the America and toured the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Belize. The couple, now in their 80s, live in Florida. They wrote a book about their experience called Incredible Virgin Island Adventure (Which I’m having trouble finding.) and have at least one post on their blog.

More Soggy Dollar Bar 40th Anniversary Party videos:

Lets Have a Party

Conga Line

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Soggy Dollar Bar 40th Anniversary Party, Jost Van Dyke, BVI


Soggy Dollar Bar, White Bay, Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands
Saturday the owners of the Sandcastle Hotel and Soggy Dollar Bar celebrated the 40th anniversary of the establishment.

Originally built by George Myrick in 1970, the Sandcastle passed through two more hands, before evolving into it’s present incarnation.

The Soggy Dollar Bar is, among other notables, renowned for the drink invented there by George Myrick, the Painkiller

Anatomy of a Pain Killer:
Caribbean Travel and Life [April 2009]
PAINKILLER
4 ounces unsweetened pineapple juice
1 ounce orange juice
1 ounce Coco Lopez coconut cream
2 1/2 ounces Pusser’s rum or dark Jamaican rum
Powdered cinnamon
Ground nutmeg
Shake juices, Coco Lopez and rum with plenty of crushed ice.
Pour unstrained into a tall glass.
Dust with cinnamon and nutmeg.
Garnish with a pineapple wedge, cinnamon stick and orange wheel.
by George and Marie Myrick
Soggy Dollar 1971

Soggy Dollar Bar, Jost Van Dyke, Trish and Jerry
Trish and Jerry, Owners of the Soggy Dollar Bar and Sandcastle Hotel

Liston DJ's

Gerald, Mario and Darth Vader, Soggy Dollar Bar, Jost Van Dyke
Gerald, Mario and Darth Vader

More Videos

Teri and Chin Dancing


Girls Just Want to Have Fun

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St. John Excursions: Little Jost Van Dyke

The Home of Dr. William Thornton, Little Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin islands

Little Jost Van Dyke British Virgin Islands, home of William Thornton
Home of Dr. William Thornton

Dr. William Thornton, the designer of the US Capitol Building, was born in Great Harbour Jost Van Dyke in 1759. In later years he lived on Little Jost Van Dyke.

The remains of the Thornton residence lie on a ridge on the Western side of the island overlooking Tortola to the south and Lost Van Dyke to the west.

The following photos illustrate the hike I took with Curtney “Ghost” Chinnery to Dr. Thornton’s home.

Ghost and I put in at the old dock that lies on Little Jost Van Dyke across Long Bay from Foxy’s Taboo. It’s a tough approach and you’ll need a shallow draft boat and some creativity to tie up here.

Once we accomplished that we hiked along the coast and picked up a trail of sorts leading to the remains of an old structure once destined to be a bar and restaurant on the western beach south of Dim Don Point. As we approached the old structure, we needed to keep alert for the numerous suckers that seemed to be just about everywhere.

From the old unfinished and crumpling, bar we bushwhacked up the hill to the ridge where we came upon the remains of the old Thornton residence.

Visit to the Home of Dr. William Thornton, Little Jost Van Dyke BVI

old dock

hillside
coconut grove

large rocks

abandoned bar
?

abandoned bar little jost vab dyke
Interior of the bar

ruin of thornton residence, little jvd, bvi
Thornton ruin

view from ruin
view from thornton residence

baby goats
baby goats
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St. John Stories: Scotland Yard Comes to St. John

I have an uncanny way of being able to find the Ghost. Case in point the “Scotland Yard Incident.”

It all started one day in 2002 when I came home to find a rather unsettling message on my answering machine. It was from a Detective Sergeant Michael Murfin from Scotland Yard asking me to please give him a call. He left a phone number from the BVI.

I immediately ask myself what I possibly might have done to incur the interest of this  venerable law enforcement agency.

I rack my brain. What could they want? What did I do? Should I call? I can’t think of anything and so I decide to call.

“Hello, Detective Sergeant Michael Murfin Scotland Yard, who’s calling?”

“Gerald Singer from St. John”

“Oh good, Mr. Singer. I’m glad you called. We’re coming to St. John in  a few days and we’d like to talk to you.”

“What’s this about?” I ask.

“We’ll talk about it when we get there,” he answers, “we’ll call,” and he hangs up.

Mystery still not solved.

Three days later the phone rings.

“Detective Sergeant Michael Murfin, we’re at Cap’s Place in Cruz Bay. Can you come down and talk to us?”

“OK,”

So I go down to Cap’s along with my then girlfriend and there sitting at one of the tables are two casually dressed agents along with their wives.

I identify myself, join them and take a seat looking out at the street.

“So what’s the story?” I ask.

Well, the story goes like this:

The two agents are on Tortola investigating a murder, in which the local BVI police department are getting nowhere. The Scotland yard boys, however are pretty sharp and they have a good lead, a witness or a suspect who was in jail and there was this guy sharing a cell with him that they felt had some information. They didn’t want to approach the guy directly or ask too many questions locally, because they were afraid that the guy would be suspicious and hide or run. In their investigation they find that this fellow with the information has a friend on St. John that could act as an intermediary and that friend is me, and the individual they’re looking for is Curtney Chinnery, the Ghost.

“Would you talk to him,” they ask.

Before I can even answer the question I look out onto the street and who is walking by but none other than the Ghost himself.

“Excuse me a moment,” I say to the agents and walk out onto the street.

I walk over to Ghost and explain the situation and ask him if he wants to talk to the agents. He says, OK and we walk over to Cap’s.

The agents deputize the Ghost on the spot and the information that they gather from him proves to be helpful in the ultimate solving of the case.

Scotland Yard agents at Cap's Place
Detective Sergeant Michael Murfin and Detective Kenny Allen from Scotland yard, their wives (left), Habiba, the ex girlfriend (between the two agents) and the Ghost (front)

Island Sun August 2, 2002
“Man charged in Bally Murder Case”

On 30 July, Darren Hodge, age 25, a serving prisoner at Balsam Ghut was charged with the murder of Jason Bally. A police sources stated that this case has been unsolved since October 1999. Ag. Commissioner Barry Webb reviewed the case last year and recommended a renewed investigation.

His Excellency Governor Frank Savage agreed to two officers from New Scotland Yard being attached to the investigation team which has been led by Inspector Alexis Charles. The Scotland Yard officers are Detective Sergeant Michael Murfin and Detective Kenny Allen. Experienced RVIPF officers and Attorney General’s office have worked closely with the  officers from London for the past six weeks to bring this investigation forward.

Bally, 25, was shot in the street outside the Domino Gas Station in Sea Cows Bay on 15 October 1999. A native of Trinidad, the victim had been employed at Foxy’s Bar on Jost Van Dyke.According to police, investigations revealed that Bally and a male companion were walking along the Sea Cows Bay Public Road in the vicinity of Domino Gas Station when a black male approached them from the gas station area. A loud blast was heard and Bally fell to the ground while his companion escaped unharmed and alerted residents of the area. On examining the gas station police found that an attempted burglary had taken place and recovered items used in that attempt.

While police have gathered enough evidence to bring a murder charge against Darren Hodge, the investigation is still ongoing. There were a number of suspects involved in the attempted break-in of the gas station and efforts continue to collect evidence to prosecute them for burglary and to determine what part, if any, they played in the murder.

The investigation team is still keen to hear from anybody with information about the case. In particular, assistance is sought regarding two gas tanks left at Domino Gas Station by the suspects. It has never been established where these came from, but it is suspected that they were stolen from someone on Tortola.  Additionally, the weapon used in the murder is believed to have been a handgun that has not yet been recovered.

Police sources further noted that on 16 December 2001, Darren Hodge who was remanded to H.M. Prison for burglary escaped but later turned himself into police on 17 December. Hodge was due to be released on 19 August 2002, however due to the present matter he will have to reappear in the Magistrate’s Court on 23 October.

Anyone with information regarding this case is asked to contact the investigation team on a dedicated telephone number: 468-9136. All calls will be treated in the strictest confidence.

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The Ruins of Great Thatch

Ruin on Great Thatch British Virgin Islands
Ruin on Great Thatch, British Virgin Islands
Great Thatch BVI
Great Thatch

Great Thatch Island lies just to the north of St. John.  The approximately half-mile passage between Great Thatch and the St. John coast from the rocky cliffs of Mary Point and the steep tyre palm covered hillsides between there and Leinster Bay form “the Narrows,” characterized by gusty winds and strong tidal currents.

I’ve snorkeled there and once camped out on the beach, but I always thought of the interior of the island to be impenetrable bush on cliff-like hillsides, maybe suitable for goats, but not people. I was wrong.

Guided by a good friend and knowledgeable Virgin Islander, I took the opportunity to explore for the first time, the island’s interior.

Unfinished Building on Great Thatch, British Virgin IslandsWe began our adventure at the site of an unfinished building on the far eastern corner of the long beach on the southern coast. Rumor has it that this was to be a built as a restaurant. Work started about 1997, but was plagued by misfortune. Supposedly a dump truck full of gravel arriving by barge got stuck in the sand and remained stuck for quite some time. It was eventually removed, but I never heard how. The same sand that the truck got stuck in, made the site look like a desirable beach location, but that was an anomaly, the natural state of that section of beach is gravel, to which it returned and is to this day. So much for rumor.

old road on Great Thatch, British Virgin islands
stone retaining wall on lower side of road

We headed straight up the hill in back of the building through a forest of mostly genip trees growing very close together. The vegetation was thick, but passable and we soon came to an old road bed running gradually up along the hillside. We followed the road until my friend inexplicably decided that we should leave the road and continue straight up again towards the ridge, which we did, and which led us to the first of a series of ruins.

Great Thatch, British Virgin Islands

outbuilding above the road

cook house great thatch bvi
cook house

animal corral, great thatch, british virgin islands
animal corral

cistern
cistern

cookhouse doorway
cookhouse doorway

view from great thatch
view from ruin

Smuggling and Great Thatch
I came across this little tidbit of historical information, which gives, among other things, a little picture of life on this island that I always thought to be either uninhabited or at least sparsely so.

“On being informed on November 24 (1856) that a boat belonging to an inhabitant of (Great) Thatch Island was trading without a license, the sub-treasurer of Tortola proceeded to seize it. He soon had to abandon the seizure, however, when he was assaulted and the crew of his boat badly beaten. Two days later, a force consisting of four constables was dispatched by the stipendiary magistrate to arrest the offenders. On landing they were obstructed by 40 or 50 people, and when the persevered and made their arrest were also severely beaten. On the following day, a larger force comprising 30 men, principally rural constables, 12 of whom were armed, was dispatched to quell the spirit of insubordination and to apprehend the offenders. Despite this show of force, it was only the assistance of the Wesleyan missionaries who were influential among the inhabitants, which enabled 16 arrests to be made without active opposition.” From “A History of the British Virgin islands” by Issac Dookhan

Great Thatch’s connection with smuggling may not be confined to the nineteenth century as rumors abound about bales of illicit drugs being found washed up on the shoreline there.

The name of the island itself suggests something nefarious. It is said that Thatch is a corruption of the name Teach and that the islands given the Thatch name, Thatch Cay in the US Virgins, and Great and Little Thatch in the British were named after the pirate Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard.

Bottles
On our walk we encountered many old bottles as well as other artifacts. It seems that this might help to date how recently people were still living on the island. Many of the bottles it turns out were manufactured by the Portobello bottle company in Edinburgh, Scotland after 1907.

One More T’ing
All during our walk we could hear the bleating of a goat, but we could never see him. Just as I was leaving a spotted him…


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A Visit to the Willy-T on X-Rated, The Bight, Norman Island, BVI

The William Thornton
The Willy-T, the Bight, Norman Island, British Virgin Islands

The William Thornton, more affectionately known as the “Willy T” was originally a wooden 1935 Baltic Schooner. In 1985 the vessel was hauled out to the Bight at Norman Island and operated as a restaurant and bar, frequented by the many bareboaters who would anchor at the bay.

The old Willy T sunk in 1995. It was raised and hauled out to sea to be used a s a BVI dive site, but unfortunately the Willy T broke apart and was scattered about the sea bottom. The new Willy T is a steel replica of the original and is more popular than ever. Lits of drinking and girls jumping off the poop deck topless and body shots and music and dirty dancing and fun for all, not to mention the food that is really good.

The name William Thornton comes from a guy who was born on Jost Van Dyke and designed the United States Capitol Building.

SS William Thornton

Al "Boopy" Smith on X-Rated
Al "Boopy" Smith on "X-Rated"

M/V X-Rated
X-Rated

Mario and Boopy
Mario "Chin" Jackson & Boopy at the Willy-T

Norman Island BVI
Boats rafted up at the Willy T

The Bight, Norman Island British Virgin islands
Boopy, Mario and unidentified Jumper

Willy T "William Thornton
Dancers at the Willy T

BVI
outboard engines

Mario "Willy Chin" Jackson
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A Nostalgic Visit to Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands

White Bay, Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands
White Bay, Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands

White Bay, Jost Van Dyke, BVI
Yesterday I headed over to Jost Van Dyke, carrying with me two old friends, whom I haven’t seen in many years, and a copy of an book given to me by Joe Jackson, a book of photos of the Virgin Islands published in 1970, several of which were taken in Jost Van Dyke.

The mission of the day, besides just having a good time and enjoying a lobster dinner over at Abe’s in Little harbor, was to try to take photographs from  same positions as the 1970 photographer and present them side by side. Images changed only by some 38 years of time. (I was fairly successful and am working on a blog presentation of these photos – soon come)

The trip turned nostalgic as I presented the book to the Jost Van Dyke natives and residents all of whom were fascinated with the old studies of Jost Van Dyke. My friend, Steve Coakley, took us in his taxi to some of the spots that I need to access.

Ivan and Steve check out the 1970 Virgin Islands book
Ivan and Steve check out the 1970 Virgin Islands book

We drove up the road to the west of Great Harbour for one of the locations, and Steve decided to continue over the ridge and down into White Bay to check out Ivan at the campground. Heading down into the valley I shot the above photo of White Bay, which brought back memories of my first visit to that bay back in the same year that our book was published, 1970.

White Bay Nostalgia
My girlfriend at the time and I were over at Foxy’s when we first heard about the beautiful beach just over the hill to the west. We headed up the rugged jeep trail on the western side of Great Harbour, in the bright morning sunshine. At the top of the hill, a narrow shaded footpath led down through thick bush into the next bay. At the bottom of the trail there was a small opening through a thicket of sea grape trees. We stepped through and were greated by one of the most magnificent sights I have ever experienced. This long pristine white sand beach, backed by coconut palms and sea grapes was totally untouched. Not a soul or a house could be seen anywhere. The waters within the bay were crystal clear, with the characteristic mix of blues found in our shallow indented bays. Not far offshore were the reddish tints created by the coral reef that protected the bay from the open sea.

The beach extended to a rocky outcropping around which was another stretch of coral sand beach. We had passed through a portal into a tropical paradise more beautiful and romantic than even the imagination could conjur up.

I told Steve this story and he told me that he, although born and bred on Jost van Dyke, had the same feeling of awe when he first encountered that beach lying beyond the opening in the sea grape trees.

White Bay Today
Today, White Bay, is not quite the same. It’s still beautiful, but fairly well developed. Whereas a sailing publication advised mariners that there was swinging room behind the reef within the two bays for two or three vessels and if you encountered that many you were advised to head back to Great Harbor and anchor there, today that concept is a joke. In addition to the many, many more than three vessels one can find at any given time at anchor in the bay, mini cruise ships such as the five masted Club Med often anchor just outside the reef ferrying passengers back and forth to the shore. There are now bars and restaurants, campgrounds and guest houses and villas. In general it’s a bustling party atmosphere, still cool, just very different.

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Tales of St. John & the Caribbean: The Queen’s Panties

From Tales of St. John & the Caribbean
“The Queen’s Panties” by Curtney “Ghost” Chinnery

In the mid-sixties, the Queen of England paid a visit to the island of Tortola. This particular story is one that probably should not be told. But what the hell, we were just children.

Let me start with the day before the Queen came to Roadtown, Tortola. There were four of us. We were called “Water Rats.” There were two police officers that were assigned to the waterfront area. One of the officers called out to us saying: “Hey! Come here. Tomorrow the Queen will be here, and we don’t want you Water Rats in the water. Don’t let us have to chase you guys around.”

Those officers were men we respected. Therefore, we promised not to be in the water. We had intentions of making good money that day from visiting tourists by diving for coins.  Being that our plans were changed because of our promise, we were left with nothing in mind to do for the day of the Queen’s visit. The eldest of our group, a fellow we called Hookadoe, who is no longer with us in life today, said, “I know what we can do tomorrow. Let’s come early in the morning and go up under the stage.”

My brother Abraham asked Hookadoe, “Why?”

“To see what color panty she’ll be wearing,” Hookadoe replied.

Suddenly, we all thought it was a great idea, for it meant to us that we would be the only ones who would have the   pleasure of seeing the Queen’s panty.

Early the following morning, Hookadoe, Abraham, our friend Blackbird and I met up at the Market Square near the waterfront. Slightly before daybreak, we made our way over the hill so that we would not be seen by anyone.

Directly above the Roadtown Post Office was an old pirates’ castle, which today is the Dr. Tattersol Hospital. Sticking out from various points of the castle were heavy iron cannons pointed out towards the Roadtown harbor. There was one particular cannon we kids used to descend downwards into one of the many genip trees to get to the street below on the side of the Post Office. As we got to the street level, which is the same narrow Main Street of today, I was sent out as a scout to see if anyone was in the street.

After seeing no one, I signaled to the others to follow.

In those days, we had a wooden dock that was for ferry and yacht discharge only. The dock directly across from the passenger dock was for cargo boats to unload. For the Queen’s comfort, they constructed a large stage between both docks using many strips of wood for the floor, which made us think we would be able to look up between the many single strips of board.

We all took turns inching our way out toward the customs building at the dock. Upon arrival, we went into the water, clothes and all. The back end of the stage that faced the water was open so that we Water Rats could climb out of the water and go up under the stage.

After we made it under the stage, we undressed and wrang out our clothes. We depended upon our body heat as a drying agent to dry our clothes.

It wasn’t long before people started to gather. Suddenly we heard the sound of an engine. A few moments later, two U-boats came and tied up at the end of both docks, which meant we were totally trapped. To keep from being seen we now had to move toward the front section of the stage and in our little peeping plot, there was no turning back.

That morning we had no breakfast, which was a big mistake. The crowd started to build, and beneath the stage started to get hot from the sun. There was nothing we could do but lay on the ground for a few hours. As time went by, we developed hunger. What made matters worse was the odor of fried chicken, which was causing a big problem for us.

As the  hours passed, the heat built up. Our wet clothes never got a chance to dry from our body heat, because our bodies were just pushing out more water from sweat. Therefore what we did was remove our clothes.

I can remember starting to say a prayer, a prayer asking God to send the Queen soon, so that we could get out of there. There were only two ways out. One was to give up our quest. The other was to wait it out until the Queen arrived, made her speech, and moved on up through Main Street to the schoolyard where many people were gathered to see her. The choice of giving up was out of the question, so we stuck it out.

As we lay upon our clothes, up under the hot darkened stage, we heard clapping through the cracks of the stage steps. I could see the crowd moving to the left side in front of the stage. This cheering, clapping, and movement of the crowd told us our big moment was about to come. We made our move to the center of the stage, so that we could have a clear view of the Queen. We all laid side by side in the area where the Queen was about to walk up on the stage.

I can remember that our hunger had intensified so much so that our stomachs were making noises. This was another problem, because the moving gas in our stomachs was loud enough to be heard from the outside. Then as we lay there trying to quiet our stomachs by squeezing them with our hands, it suddenly got very dark.

It seems that someone had just unrolled a three-foot-wide   red carpet for the Queen to walk on, which posed another problem. To combat this new dilemma, my brother and I moved to one side of the carpet and Blackbird and Hookadoe the other. That way we could still view the Queen from the sides of the carpet.

The white convertible carrying the Queen drove up in front and stopped directly at the beginning of the red carpet. The car door was opened by one of our local police officers. We could now clearly see her face. Her beauty glittered as the sunlight hit her overall structure. Her large white dress was whiter than white itself. But our viewing of her was just for a brief moment. Once she came to the first step we beneath lost visual of her face.

Our big moment had finally arrived. We moved back from under the step section in an attempt to follow her movements as she was being escorted to her area upon the stage. We tried to look and peep through the cracks of the strips of wood on the sides of the carpet, except that fate was not on our side. The panty we had tried to see, for us, did not exist. All that we saw from our angle was layers and layers of material. It seems that the Queen had on about 25 dresses, one dress on top of another. We did not even get to see her ankle. The only part of her skin we saw was what all had seen, which was from her elbow to below her shoulders and her face. All other parts of her body were covered.

Disappointed as we were, we had no choice but to re­­main under that stage with our hunger. Many people made speeches as we prayed for them to finish and to begin the parade that would lead everyone through town and away from us, which, in time, happened.

Tired and hungry at the end of our worthless quest, we left the stage in the same way we entered it.

Due to the fact that we were so hungry and no one seemed to be around, we walked about the waterfront area and picked up bits and pieces of chicken and anything else we found to eat that had been left on the ground. For drinks we drained old soda cans, and thus ended our worthless quest to see if we could view the Queen’s panty.

Now today as a man I wonder. If they had caught us then, what would have become of us? What type of charge would they have placed upon us? In any case we did what we did when we did it. Personally, I for one would like to apologize to the Queen. I was just a crazy little boy.

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