And Then There Were None…

There are no more vessels on Cruz Bay beach.

There are no more vessels on Cruz Bay beach.

Well folks, we have fantastic news to share with you all today… All of the boats on Cruz Bay beach have been removed. How exciting is that??!!

The tow boats that were in front of Waterfront Bistro were moved Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning.

The two boats that were in front of Waterfront Bistro were removed Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning.

The very last vessel was removed from Cruz Bay beach Tuesday morning. It was located near the ferry dock.

The very last vessel was removed from Cruz Bay beach Tuesday morning. It was located near the ferry dock.

As you may know, several boats washed up onto Cruz Bay beach following Hurricane Irma back on September 6th. All but one of the boats was removed by Resolve Marine Group with assistance of the United States Coast Guard. The first one, which slammed up against Joe’s Rum Hut was removed on Thanksgiving morning. Kenny Chesney’s Love For Love City Foundation removed one of the boats back in the fall, a wooden one that was abandoned by its owner and subsequently signed over to the Foundation. The last two boats were removed Tuesday morning – one which ended up on the beach in front of Waterfront Bistro and the second which landed over near the ferry dock.

coast guard monday

A member of the US Coast Guard looks on as Resolve Marine Group prepares to lift a vessel Monday afternoon.

Preparing to lift a vessel Monday afternoon.

lifting tuesday

The vessel that landed in front of Waterfront Bistro gets lifted Tuesday morning.

resolve tuesday

The vessel, which has been damaged, will likely be salvaged.

Dreamweaver, the vessel that slammed into Joe's Rum Hut, is removed on Thanksgiving morning.

Dreamweaver, the vessel that slammed into Joe’s Rum Hut, is removed on Thanksgiving morning.

The Love For Love City Foundation removes a wooden vessel from Cruz Bay beach. Image credit: STJ Creative Photography

The Love For Love City Foundation removes a wooden vessel from Cruz Bay beach. Image credit: STJ Creative Photography

Since Thanksgiving, Resolve has removed boats on Cruz Bay beach and also in Coral Bay. As of late Monday, the majority of the boats that ended up on the shore of Coral Bay had been removed. Several were able to be repaired and now float in Coral Bay once again. Resolve also removed Saltaire last week, the large vessel that was slated to be a dinner cruise boat, which slammed into the dock at the National Park Visitor’s Center.

Sadly there still are numerous damaged vessels in Hurricane Hole. Resolve is not involved in the removal of those vessels. According to an owner of a damaged vessel in Hurricane Hole, the US Coast Guard initially said that the boats wold be removed in the same manner that was happening in Cruz Bay and Coral Bay. All of the boats were tagged, and the owners were asked to report their plans for the damaged vessels. Since then, the owners were told that because the National Park is a separate entity that it has been problematic accessing the money needed to remove the vessels. We’ll keep you all posted on that.

In the meantime, it’s a great day here in Cruz Bay! We all finally have our beach back, and I’m sure that will make many of you smile. Have a great day everyone!

An Update on the Airlines

airplane

Hello everyone and happy Monday! One of the biggest gripes we hear at News of St. John is about the airlines, and specifically, the lack of flights to St. Thomas. Well we’re just as frustrated as all of you when it comes to this topic. We did a little digging over the weekend, and we did learn that some airlines plan to expand their routes later this year. Here is what we know now:

Spirit: Beginning February 16th, Spirit will add flights to and from St. Thomas on Mondays and Fridays. This will be in additional to their current Wednesday and Saturday schedule. Flight number 212 goes to St. Thomas while flight number 201 leaves from St. Thomas. All flights connect through Ft. Lauderdale.

Delta: Delta continues to only operate one flight daily. Flight number 307 travels to St. Thomas while flight number 571 leaves St. Thomas. Both flights connect through Atlanta. Delta appears to be placing a larger 757 aircraft in service beginning February 24 on Saturdays only. It is currently flying a smaller 737 to and from St. Thomas. It also appears that Delta will add a nonstop flight between New York (JFK) and St. Thomas on Saturdays only beginning April 7. According to Delta’s website, those flights will begin operating on a daily basis on May 24.

American: American continues to schedule two flights a day both to and from St. Thomas – flights numbers 943 and 1391. The flight numbers are the same both coming to and leaving from St. Thomas. These flights connect through Miami. It is uncertain when American plans to add additional flights to St. Thomas. American also only allows you to check two bags when traveling to St. Thomas. There are no restrictions on the number of bags when leaving St. Thomas.

JetBlue: JetBlue is operating daily, although you must connect through San Juan. Some of these connections occur on JetBlue aircraft. Others operate in partnership with Seaborne and Cape Air.

United: United is operating though San Juan in partnership with Cape Air and Seaborne airlines.

Cape Air: Cape Air offers several flights daily between St. Thomas and San Juan. You may want to buy a ticket on one airline to San Juan and then a separate ticket to St. Thomas on Cape Air.  Please note: If you airline hop, you do not want to check a bag. If you check a bag, you will have to leave the secure area to retrieve it before boarding your second flight. You will then have to go through security again. 

Seaborne: Seaborne offers several flights daily between St. Thomas and San Juan. You may want to buy a ticket on one airline to San Juan and then a separate ticket to St. Thomas on Seaborne.  Please note: If you airline hop, you do not want to check a bag. If you check a bag, you will have to leave the secure area to retrieve it before boarding your second flight. You will then have to go through security again. 

Southwest: Southwest offers flights to and from San Juan. It is an option to buy a ticket on Southwest to San Juan and then buy a separate ticket to St. Thomas on either JetBlue, Cape Air or Seaborne. Please note: If you airline hop, you do not want to check a bag. If you check a bag, you will have to leave the secure area to retrieve it before boarding your second flight. You will then have to go through security again. 

If you have information on any other flight options, we’d love to know. Please leave it in the comments below or over on our Facebook page.

Government Shutdown: The VI National Park Remains Open

national park sign january 6 2018
Well folks, I just woke up, opened my laptop and was greeted by very bolded words on my favorite news page: Shutdown. As you all know, we’re not a political blog here, but this is something we clearly need to address. And guess what? I have great news to share. Regardless of the shutdown, the Virgin Islands National Park will not be affected. Thank goodness!

I briefly chatted with Darrell Echols, the acting superintendent of the Virgin Islands National Park, last night in anticipation of the shutdown, and he assured me that the Park will remain open. He stated that the beaches and park in his areas will not close and that the particulars were still developing.

You may recall back in 2013 when we last had a government shutdown that the Park here was closed for five full days. During that time, parking lots were taped or barricaded off, and rangers asked people to leave the beaches. We also were not allowed to use any of the hiking trails. The Visitor’s Center, Annaberg and even the playground at the National Park dock were all closed. As you can imagine, none of this went over very well here on St. John where the majority of the island is National Park. Fortunately the VI National Park was reopened as an exception while the other National parks remained closed.

So again, the National Park here on St. John remains open and will stay open. So if you are lucky enough to be on island, go out and enjoy one of our beautiful beaches today. I know I will!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Faces of the Virgin Islands

Doc I the latest resident featured on the Faces of the Virgin Islands Facebook page. Images by STJ Creative Photography

Doc is the latest resident featured on the Faces of the Virgin Islands Facebook page. Images by STJ Creative Photography

Hello everyone and happy Friday! Today we’d like to tell you about a great new Facebook page that we think you should all check out. It’s called Faces of the Virgin Islands, and its goal is to profile residents here in the islands, as well as people who have come to our aid following the storms. Here is what the page has to say about themselves:

As the rebuilding efforts on St. John and and across the Virgin Islands continue, we want to provide a platform for people to share their stories. Irmaria reminded all of us of how intertwined our sister islands are. We want to share the stories of the people who came to the aid of St. John between the storms, the stories of people who’s first instinct after the storm was to head out with a pen and paper and start writing down names, the stories of people flying down from the states to help bring power back, the stories of people on a barge every other day delivering supplies. We want to share the stories of the love spreading across the Virgin Islands.

The page is relatively new, it just launched last month, and features photography by Anne Bequette, owner of STJ Creative Photography. Anne is also the photographer who captured all of the great images in our story earlier this week on Kenny Chesney’s Love For Love City Foundation.

So far, the page has featured three residents: Collette, the owner of St. John Scoops; Donna, creator of Valley Doll hot sauces; and Doc, one of our coolest residents here on St. John. Here is what Anne had to say about Doc, pictured above:

As I was documenting some foundation work being done, I caught a whiff in the air of something delicious. I followed the smell down the steps, past ducks and chickens, and found this handsome face on his porch cooking up ribs and meatballs for the guys working on a destroyed roof above. He invited me inside, so I sat, and we chatted.

Meet “Doc”. Born in St. Kitts, he came to St. John in 2000 to work on, and in, restaurants in Cruz Bay. One of them was Rumbalaya, which is now High Tide. He has worked in kitchens for 51 years and went on to tell me stories of playing soccer for the Virgins Islands and the St Kitts national teams. He showed me many pictures of his life, hung on his wall, grateful they survived the storms. He boasted about his garden that surrounded the remains of his wooden deck, as he pulled off leaves from his basil, mint, and thyme bushes, all used in his recipes and homemade teas. The smells were divine! Random facts about Doc: he loves to read, doesn’t drink coffee, and never drinks soda.

As he finished up the ribs on the grill, it was time to say goodbye. Before I left, I asked him what he thought of how the island is progressing after the storms. He emphatically stated, “People need to go to work. If you don’t work, the island won’t get good. Everybody has to chip in, everybody has to give a hand.” How does Doc give a hand? By doing what he does best… cooking up yummy ‘tings for the elderly at St. Ursula’s Episcopal Church in Cruz Bay. If you see him, say hello. He’s the sweetest!

Please click here to check out the Faces of the Virgin Islands, and please be sure to give it a “Like.”

The Soggy Dollar Bar is Waiting for You!

soggy dollar

Soggy Dollar Wednesday afternoon

Hello everyone and happy Thursday! I had the opportunity to hang out at the Soggy Dollar Bar yesterday for the first time since Irma hit, and it was such a great time! So today I wanted to quickly let you all know that they’re open, and they’re waiting for you all to visit!

Sadly, the only thing that survived the storm was the bar out front. The rest of the building has been rebuilt including the sitting area and the store, which is now much larger. The kitchen is still being worked on, but they are serving lunch with the use of a grill. Lunch is served daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For those of you who’ve admired the police and fire patches that lined the bar, no need to worry … they’ve all been saved! The staff removed each patch prior to Irma and all have been relocated in the new space.

The drinks were cold, the food was great, the staff was lovely and my company was amazing! So what are you waiting for? Hop on a plane and come visit us!

Can’t visit just yet? Well we have the next best thing… Soggy’s webcam is live and streaming. You can check it out at www.soggydollar.com/webcam. You can listen to Soggy Dollar Radio at the same time, so it’s kinda like being there, right??? :)

The Soggy webcam Thursday morning

The Soggy webcam Thursday morning

And I just wanted to extend a big thanks to Southern Hospitality for giving us the lift over there yesterday. You may recall how we introduced you to Southern Hospitality’s owner Bruce Twyon back in November. Bruce has donated countless hours and boat trips to help with the recovery efforts. He’s a great guy, one I’m happy to call my friend. Click here to read all about Bruce and his great work.

The Longboard Reopens!

the longboard

Well folks, one of our favorite restaurants has finally reopened for regular service following the hurricanes, and we could not be more excited!

The Longboard reopened its doors Friday after being officially closed for the past few months. As you may recall, The Longboard’s owner Clint Gaskin actually flew to St. John the day before Hurricane Irma hit, so he could be on island and help feed people after the storms. Well Clint ended up doing just that, serving thousands of Red Cross meals for the first month after Irma.

After the Red Cross contract ended, Clint and his staff took a much-needed break. They also took that time to spruce up the restaurant, installing new tables, stools, fans and more. They changed up their menu a bit too for the reopening. Check it out:

Click to see larger image.

Click to see larger image.

LONGBOARD_MENU_WEB_DRINK-page-001

Click to see larger image.

The Longboard’s kitchen is open from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. daily. The bar is open from 3 p.m. till the last customer leaves. :) Happy hour is daily from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. They have great specials including a $6 frozen Painkiller (one of my personal favorites!), $11 Frose, a variety of island craft cocktails for $6, and $1 off all beers.

So the next time you are lucky enough to be on St. John, be sure to stop by The Longboard. We’re pretty sure you won’t be disappointed.

Have a great Wednesday everyone! Cheers!

island cocktails

One of The Longboard’s island cocktails.