Tag Archives: St. John US Virgin Islands

Catherineberg History, St. John USVI

Spectacular Chocolate Hole Sunrise

Chocolate Hole Sunrise, St. John Virgin Islands
Spectacular Chocolate Hole Sunrise

A beautiful sunrise this morning as viewed from my house overlooking Chocolate Hole. This is the real thing – no post production work at all was done to the photo.

Catherineberg Windmill photos – 1965 and now

Catherineberg Windmill Tower 1965 St John US Virgin Islands
Catherineberg Windmill Tower 1965 – photo by Frederik C Gjessing

Catherineberg Windmill Storage Vaults St. John USVI 1965
Catherineberg Windmill Storage Vaults 1965 – photo by Frederik C Gjessing

Restored Catherineberg Windmill St. John Virgin Islands
Restored Catherineberg Windmill

A Little Bit of Catherineberg History
The 150-acre Cathrineberg plantation became the property of Judith Ann Delicat in 1718 just after the Danish colonization of St. John. The Delicat family also began two other plantations that same year, Jochumsdahl A and Jochumsdahl B. Both were 75 acres and adjoined Cathrineberg. These plantations were eventually consolidated into one 300-acre property known variously as Jochumsdahl, Cathrineberg, Cathrineberg or Herman Farm.

By 1721, Cathrineberg was harvesting sugarcane and the following year a sugar factory was completed. In 1797, at the peak of the sugar boom, 107 people lived at Cathrineberg. One hundred fifty acres were devoted to sugar and 150 acres to other crops. There was no unimproved land on the plantation.

Sugar declined as an important crop during the nineteenth century and Cathrineberg discontinued production in 1896. By then, most of the estate was devoted to stock raising. By 1915, Cathrineberg had ceased operations. During the 1940s, an American named Cory Bishop operated a small farm on the estate….read more

Virgin Islands News – St. Thomas Gets Their Own “8 Tuff Miles”

Runners brave weather in M2M Road Race
By THOMAS LAYER (Special to The Daily News)

ST. THOMAS – Overcoming a challenging 8-mile course with steep terrain, rain and close competition, Michael Thompson won the inaugural Montessori to Magens Road Race on Saturday morning, and Ruth Ann David followed closely to claim the top women’s title for the race that started at the Montessori School and finished at Magens Bay.

More than 350 runners and walkers braved an early morning start and gray skies filled with rain clouds to gather for what several racers would end up calling “the toughest race on St. Thomas.” Many participants have raced the popular 8-Tuff Miles on St. John and were happy to have the same opportunity on St. Thomas.

Presented by V.I. Montessori School and Peter Gruber International Academy, the inaugural event’s steering committee brought one of the top V.I. runners, Shane DeGannes, to direct the race. Having won virtually every St. Thomas Association of Road Runners event, DeGannes knows what works well for runners.

Media releases were sent out in June, Facebook pages established, decals and T-shirts were ordered, an army of volunteers were secured and hundreds of additional details filled the final weeks leading up to the race; in the end, the event boasted more than 350 registrants…. Read more

St. John Weather Forecast
Scattered showers and thunderstorms before noon, then isolated showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 83. East southeast wind around 11 mph. Chance of precipitation is 50%. New rainfall amounts of less than a tenth of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms. (NOAA National Weather Service)

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St. John Weather: Rain, Rain and More Rain

Westin Hotel great Cruz Bay St. John Virgin Islands
Westin Resort, St. John US Virgin islands

It’s been raining quite hard here on St. John for the last day or so causing significant flooding. I’ve heard reports from Coral Bay about rock and mud slides and other flood related problems. On St. Thomas, I heard that Crown Mountain Road is all but impassible.

But here closer to home I’ve seen quite a bit of damage in the area around the Westin where Guinea Gut overflowed. Flood waters ran through the resort and undermined the bridge over the gut and for several hours vehicles could no longer pass between the Westin on the east and the St. John Market on the west. The causes of  it all are two areas of stormy weather, one now a named storm, Subtropical Storm Otto and another referred to by the meteorologists as Invest 97.

At the Westin some rooms were flooded, as was the pool and the beach area. Large breaking waves caused a sailboat anchored in Great Cruz Bay to was up on the Westin Beach adding it to the other unfortunate craft brought ashore by Hurricane Earl.

Bridge over Guinea Gut

Tennis Courts

Sailboat is washed ashore by breaking seas

It’s Wednesday night and still raining, hopefully the rain will stop soon.

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St John Marine Life: Green Turtle, Chelonia mydas

green turtle
Green Turtle, Leinster Bay, St. John US Virgin Islands

When you look at a green turtle swimming about, one of the first things you may notice is that they are not green, but rather brownish in color. Their name comes from the green color of the layer of fat lying under their shells. Green turtles can get quite large, the biggest one ever found had a shell five feet long and weighed 871 pounds. Unlike many other species of turtles, green turtles cannot pull their heads back into their shells. Adult sea turtles are vegetarians eating mostly sea grass and algae, but the babies will eat small crabs, sponges and jellyfish. They mate in shallow water near the beach every two to four years and using their flippers, they dig a hole in the sand, where they lay their eggs. They then cover up the eggs with sand and return to the sea. When the eggs hatch the babies make the short but dangerous trip back to the sea. Those that survive the onslaught of predators like seagulls and crabs may live to be 100 years old.

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St. John Trails: Lameshur Bay to Reef Bay & Back – A Really Cool Loop

St. John Trails: White Cliffs
View of Europa Bay from the White Cliffs Trail

If you’re in decent physical shape and enjoy hiking on St. John and you’re looking for a good hike recommendation, I have one for you: the Lameshur Bay to Reef Bay loop.

This loop will not only provide you with access to the Reef Bay Sugar Mill ruins on the Reef Bay Trail, the waterfall fed pool where Taino Indians made carvings in the rocks called the the petroglyphs and the Par Force Great House where wealthy plantation owners made their home, but it will also lead you on an adventurous journey along a dramatic cliffside trail with breathtaking views, a coastal scramble along a coral rubble beach and access to a remote salt pond and reef protected shallow water lagoon.

Note: The White Cliffs portion of the loop is not an official National Park trail and consequently no official maintenance is being done. My point is, check out this outstanding trail sooner rather than later while it is still in such good condition Experience tells me it won’t be this good forever.

Although there are several modifications and alternative options the basic hike would go something like this:

1) Lameshur Bay Trail from Lameshur Bay to the Europa Spur Trail
2) Europa Spur to the beach at Europa Bay
3) Walk along the beach towards the point (White Point)
4) Pick up the Trail that goes inland and climbs steeply up to the White Cliffs Trail that runs on top of a ridge above the White Cliffs on St. John’s the southern coast between Europa and Reef Bay.
5) Follow the White Cliffs Trail until it ends on the beach at the eastern end of Reef Bay
6) Walk west along the beach as far as you can without getting wet and then walk through the mangrove forest to the Reef Bay Sugar Mill Ruins.
7) Take the Reef Bay Trail to the Lameshur Bay Trail and then hike back to Lameshur Bay.

Bring water! A camera, snacks and bug repellent might also be good ideas.

Highlights

Lameshur Bay Trail from Lameshur Bay to the Europa Spur Trail
The beginning of the Lameshur Bay Trail passes through some dry forest lowlands. It’s an easy flat and shady walk – a good beginning. Check out the large tamarind tree by the side of the trail. Looks like it was split in half by lightening once upon a time.

If you have plenty of energy, you can check out the Europa Point Trail for some outstanding overlooks and photo ops, but remember the loop is rather long so perhaps the exploration of Europa Point should be left to the end of the adventure, just to see if you really do have that extra energy.

If you’re in luck like I often am, you’ll see a deer or two on this section of the hike. They seem to like it around here.

Europa Bay
The Europa Bay Trail will take you to the beach at Europa Bay. Walk south towards the point to the end of the beach where you’ll find the entrance to the White Cliffs Trail.

Entrance to Europa Bay Beach from the Europa Bay Spur Trail

Europa bay Salt Pond

Me at Europa Bay - photo by Ezius Ashley

Native Orchids

White Cliffs Trail
At the end of the beach you should find a narrow but well defined trail that heads inland and then runs steeple up the hillside to the ridge above. It’s a bit tough going because of the steepness, but before you know it you’ll have reached the top. You’ll pass by some beautiful rock formations after which you should start seeing countless native orchids which seem to be everywhere along this trail and along the ridge top.

Near the top of the trail there are some great overlooks down towards Europa Bay. At the top of the steep trail, there are some more great vantage points. The White Cliffs Trail heads west from here, but you can go east for a little while and enjoy a great view towards the southeastern coastline, Kiddle, Grootpan and Salt Pond Bays.

The trail is presently in great condition and you shouldn’t have a problem following it. Once you get the section above the White Cliffs, there will be plenty of opportunities for great photographs as the trail follows the edge of a steep cliff side that descends from the ridge down to the sea.

To Reef Bay and back to Lameshur
After passing over the White Cliffs, the White Cliff Trail descends down to the beach at the eastern end of Reef Bay. A barrier reef, which forms a long semi circle around the bay comes ashore nearby. Behind the reef is a shallow lagoon, which may or may not be under water depending on the tide and time of year. This lagoon provides protection for many varieties of sea life and is an integral part of island and ocean environments.

Walk east along the beach as long as you can and then enter the mangrove forest proceeding in the same general direction until you get to the sugar mill ruins.

From there take the Reef Bay Trail to the Lameshur Bay Trail.

Note: This was not the first time that I hiked the White Cliff Trail, but this is the first time that I had my good camera with me. Read about my previous White Cliffs trail hike.

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Press Release: St. John Blues Festival 2010

St. John Blues Festival 2010St. John Blues Festival

“The hottest blues festival on the coolest Caribbean island”

Wednesday – March 17th through Sunday – March 21st

The main show is Saturday evening March 20th – 7:00 PM in the Coral Bay Ball Field

STARRING

The Deanna Bogart Band – The Ford Blues Band – EG Kight
JP Soars & The Red Hots – JT Lauritsen – Shakura S’Aida
Billy Gibson – The Ty Curtis Band – Washboard Jo

TICKETS PURCHASED IN ADVANCE ARE $25 (TICKETS PURCHASED AT THE SHOW ARE $30)

TICKETS ARE NOW ON SALE

On St. John at:
Connections – Cruz Bay
Connections – Coral Bay
Chelsea Drugs – The Marketplace

On St. Thomas at:
Chelsea Drugs – Red Hook

Food & Beverage Service Available all evening long
So bring a blanket, bring a chair, but please be cool………..no coolers

$5 Safari taxi rides all night from Cruz Bay to Coral Bay Ball Field & back to Cruz Bay

Special 1:00 AM Passenger Ferry from Cruz Bay to Red Hook

For additional information go to stjohnbluesfestival.com
or contact Steve Simon at 340-643-6475 or at
stevesimonlive@yahoo.com

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St. John Virgin Islands: Turner Point Trail Revisited

st john trails: turner point
cannon buried in sand

Turner Point Trail Hike, St. John US Virgin Islands Saturday 01/09/2010

haulover bay, st john, us virgin islands
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.

The Route

Turner Point Trail, St. John Virgin Islands
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.

Elk Bay, St. John Virgin Islands
Elk Bay
Elk Bay, St. John Virgin Islands
Scramble

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.

wrecked boat on elk bay - st john usvi
wrecked boat

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.

ruins on the turner bay trail st john usvi

ezius ashley clears ctach n keep
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, st john
ruins at water creek
mangroves at water creek, st john
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!

turner point trail map, st john usvi
map
cannon on beach
the 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.

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Ditleff Point: Photos from the Archives

Watching one of the last of the undeveloped sandy southwestern beaches go the way of the big money seems to have drawn me there lately; getting there while the getting is good, so to speak. Made me think of the archived photos I have of those pre-development days. when a rugged trail lead to the point and the eastern and western beaches.

Ditleff Point St. John Virgin Islands
Ditleff Point

This photo was on the cover of old editions of St. John Off the Beaten Track. To get here walk south along the coast from Ditleff beach.

Ditleff Point St. John Virgin Islands
Tide Pool
Ditleff Point St. John Virgin Ilsands
"the times they are a changing"

Native fishermen used to use Ditleff Beach for picking whelk, diving conch and inshore fishing. Before that the Tainos had established a settlement there.

Ditleff Beach St. John USVI
Ditleff Beach Western Side

Ditleff Beach is a sand and coral rubble beach. Even if land access is closed the beach remains public and can be accessed by boat or by swimming or snorkeling from Klein Bay.

Ditleff Point Fish Bay side
Beach Fish Bay Side
Ditleff point St. John USVI
Rubble beach on the Fish Bay side.
Ditleff Point St. John Virgin Islands
View of the beach from the old trail

The previous owners, Dow Chemical heirs, I’m told, wanted to keep the Point as it was save for bulldozing a dirt track over the old narrow trail. When they passed the new owners decided to develop.

Ditleff point overview
Overview

The Point as seen from the Fish Bay Road before development.

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Ditleff Point Morning, St. John US Virgin islands

overview of Ditleff Point from the development road
overview of Ditleff Point from the development road

Ditleff Point
Yesterday I was out early in the morning checking out the south side for some photos and when I came to Ditleff Point I noticed that although the gate controlling the vehicle traffic was closed a walk through gate remained open. Taking advantage of this access were dog walkers and joggers all of whom were familiar to me.

Passing through the open gate, I began to walk down the now bulldozed and paved road, which not long ago was a rugged dirt track. Along the way I met Miles Stair of  Holiday Homes fame. He slowed his pace and waled with me.

a squall blows in from the east
a squall blows in from the east
Rainbow
Rainbow

On our way back to the main road a squall blew in from the east. The mist from the squall produced a beautiful rainbow that arched over the Point from east to west. I’m excited to come back here, shoot some photos, and take a few jogs, before, and hopefully this never happens, that access is closed off to St. John residents and visitors.

Gated Community
Gated Community

About Beach Access
“…While the coastlines and beaches of of the Virgin Islands are public domain the question of access has nor been formalized. In most jurisdictions which have public beach access laws the owners of properties adjacent to beaches are required to provide public access through the land. Here in the Virgin islands developers and landowners have taken the position that access is only necessary via the sea and providing land access is optional. This interpretation is not always so. For example, the Pond Bay Club on Chocolate Hole was required to provide land access to the beach, Ditleff point apparently not as the gate suggests.

“Historically, land access to Ditleff Point goes back to the first inhabitants of indigenous peoples who had a settlement there some two thousand years ago.

Poor whites abnd freed slaves lived there during colonial times. During substance farming days, a family lived in a house whose foundation still exists, lying just inland from the southern end of the beach.

After that Ditleff Beach was used primarily as access to the sea for fishing and the gathering of whelk and conch as well as recreationally for swimming, snorkeling, diving and fishing. Original trails were replaced by a bulldozed road when a group of mainlanders purchased the point declaring that they had no intention of developing it. For many years St. Johnians and visitors used this road as access to the beaches. When the mainlanders passed away and the property passed to their heirs, the land was cut up into parcels, developed and put on the market, with a gate at the entrance to control access.

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