Monthly Archives: August 2013

This Weekend’s Labor Day Festivities

Coral Bay Sign

There’s a lot happening this weekend for those of you lucky enough to be on island.

Sunday marks the 14th annual Love City Triathlon and Aquathon. A big change this year is the venue. The entire race will be held at the Maho Bay beach- from the starting line to finish line, as well as the picnic afterward. Here is this year’s course information:

According to the St. John Landsharks website, the triathletes will swim a half mile in Maho Bay. They will then bicycle to Cruz Bay, then back up Centerline Road to the Smoothie Stand and then down Kings Hill to finish back at Maho Bay. Once they’re there, they’ll run a challenging four mile course out to Francis Bay and Annaberg before returning to the finish line at Maho Bay.

(I’m tired just writing that! Kudos to all participating!)

The aquathoners will swim the same half mile course and will run the same four mile course as the triathletes.

The race is this Sunday at 7 a.m.

Participants must be a resident of the Caribbean, however all others are welcomed to watch. For those of you wanting to participate, you have until 4 p.m. tomorrow to register. You can download this form here and bring it to the Tap Room to enter.

Another great event happening this weekend is the Coral Bay Labor Day Parade. The event kicks off this Monday around 11 a.m. (Keyword: “around.” There may be a bit of island time in action here. But don’t be discouraged. Just go with it and have fun!)

The parade begins at Cases By the Sea, which is across from Island Blues in Coral Bay. It goes up to Centerline Road, takes a right and ends by the fire station. The parade route may be short, but we assure you it won’t be short on fun. There will be great food and live music following the parade.

And lastly, we had a bit of sad news to report out of Coral Bay. This weekend will be the last for Owen and his crew over at Cases By the Sea. So if you’re in the area, please stop by and have a drink with the guys before they close their doors for good. The closing is bittersweet, however, as indicated in their recent Facebook post.

Cases Facebook Post

Have a great holiday weekend everyone!

New Jeep Rental Business On Island

Sunshines Jeep

Image courtesy of Sunshine’s Jeep Rentals

Concerned about whether or not you’ll be able to find a Jeep rental this high season? Well, we have some good news for you. A new business opened earlier this year which will help ease your worries.

Sunshine’s Jeep Rentals opened its doors in May after the Bureau of Motors Vehicles and the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs increased the number of rental vehicles allowed on the island. It was the first increase of its kind in nearly 20 years.

Angie Smith, owner of VIVA! Villas, was ecstatic as she had first inquired about the possibility of entering the Jeep rental market 10 years ago.

“We wanted to offer Jeep rentals because so many of our guests are unable to find vehicles on island, especially during busy times,” Angie said. “There’s just not enough cars for the demand.”

The reason is took so long for the rental quota to increase, according to Angie, was parking. There was simply not enough parking to accommodate an increase in rental vehicles; therefore the quota remained stagnant for years. As many of you know, finding an open space had often been problematic around Cruz Bay, especially during high season. But with the opening of the new lot at the car barge dock, there is now plenty to go around.

Sunshine’s Jeep Rentals has several two and four-door Jeep Wranglers available. They are located in town across from the Islandia Building. And just like many of the other rental companies, they offer in-town parking when available and will meet guests at the ferry dock upon arrival. Angie also said that roadside service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week during a guest’s rental period.

And for those of you looking to to visit the island next month, Sunshine’s Jeep Rental is running a September special. All available four-door Jeep Wranglers will be offered at a discount of $400 a week.

The point that Angie is the most proud of, however, is the fact that she is a woman operating in a typically male-operated business. She is hoping that will soon change as more women take the leap into fields unknown.

“Most of the business and the work we do is all women,” Angie said. “We definitely want to encourage more women to open up businesses on the island. This is typically a business that men run on the island. We want to encourage other women to try new things, to try new businesses that they wouldn’t really typically consider.”

You can find Sunshine Jeep Rentals on the web at www.SunshineJeepRentals.com. You can also “like” them on Facebook by clicking here.

Could You Buy a Home Sight Unseen? These Two Just Did.

Bill and Becky Haren

Becky Haren first visited St. John in the late 1960s. She visited for the second time last March along with her husband Bill. This past Thursday, Becky arrived on St. John for the third time. But this time, she and her husband came with a purpose – They came to close on a home in Coral Bay.

What makes the Haren’s story interesting is that they never actually stepped foot in their new home prior to purchasing it. They had never even done a drive by. Heck, they had never even stayed on the Coral Bay side of the island prior to last Thursday.

So how exactly did this all transpire? Well it began late last year while Becky was planning their March 2013 trip – Bill’s first to St. John. She began by perusing the rental market, but soon found herself checking out the MLS real estate listings online.

“The Internet has opened up a whole new way to shop for (St. John) real estate,” said Gretchen Labrenz of Cruz Bay Realty. “Our website, digital photos, videos, Google Maps, and rental sites and reviews for homes makes the research easier.”

And that’s exactly how Becky did it.

“Every single morning from last December on, I was looking at the MLS, just looking at the market for something new,” said Becky, a retired teacher who lives in North Carolina. “We started looking and I was calling myself a bottom feeder. We were looking at the bottom of the market. We’re just normal people. We’re not grand financial people who can just come here and buy stuff.”

They knew that a million dollar home was out of the question, so they searched for something more practical. After months of reviewing every new listing, scouting neighborhoods via Google Earth and conferring with Gretchen, what seemed like the perfect property listed for sale. Trilogy is a three bedroom home in the St. Quaco & Zimmerman estate. It has expansive views of Coral Bay Harbor and out toward the East End.

The home was perfect for the Harens who hope to someday retire on the island. (Bill currently works in North Carolina as an engineer.) They spent their first night in the home, also their first night in Coral Bay, last Thursday.

“The first night, the night sounds were incredible. It was just beautiful,” Becky said. “Going to sleep was just peaceful. We never had that peacefulness on the Cruz Bay side. It was just nice. And there is some night life over here, but it’s not like Cruz Bay. It’s just nice.”

So many of you might be wondering how exactly they were able to buy a second home in paradise..

“The way we managed to do it is that I just never allowed somebody to tell me you can’t do it. We just figured it out,” Becky said. “We never had any trepidation. We just had good feelings the whole time. It was just meant to be.”

The Harens decided it would be less expensive to purchase their new home with cash, rather than through financing. To do so, they refinanced their North Carolina home and used that money to purchase the St. John home. In doing so, they were not required to buy hurricane or earthquake insurance. Becky said that saved them thousands of dollars, thousands of dollars which they plan to use to strengthen the home’s structure.

They’re now working on making minor upgrades throughout the home like painting and such. They plan to split their time between St. John and North Carolina over the new few years until Bill’s retirement. They expect Trilogy to hit the rental market sometime early next year.

A Tribute to Pirate Bill

Image courtesy of Mac Lummis

Image courtesy of Mac Lummis

Pirate Bill was a beloved Coral Bay icon known and loved by many. We here at News of St. John have received numerous emails over the past few months inquiring about Pirate Bill. People asked about his story, his history. Sadly Pirate Bill passed away earlier this summer.  Having not had the opportunity to meet Pirate Bill myself, I decided to reach out to a woman who had.

Margie Smith Holt had the privilege of spending time with Pirate Bill a few years back. Some of you loyal St. John fans may have read this story before, but we assure you it’s good enough to read again. Margie has granted News of St. John permission to reprint the following article, which was originally published in the St. John Sun Times.

Pieces of Eight by Margie Smith Holt

Pirate-Bill-photo-by-Margie-Smith-Holt-163x300

Image courtesy of Margie Smith Holt

Pirates, I have learned since moving to St. John, have discriminating taste in beer.

Grog, the watered-down rum that was the aqua vitae of all the seventeenth century seamen I read about as a kid, is passé. No modern-day pirate would be caught dead drinking it.

I sailed with one pirate who stocked only Heineken (and Stoli) in his galley. At Skinny Legs, where pirates venture in and out all the time, the Bucket of Buds happy hour special just hasn’t taken off. Every now and then a table of tourists will order it, but the locals are all drinking out of green bottles.

It shouldn’t have been a surprise, then, when I met Pirate Bill late one afternoon for an interview and he requested that our first stop be a beer run at the Calabash Boom mini-market. He emerged with a six-pack of Elephant (imported from Denmark).

Pirate Bill looks the part. He is wearing his trademark bandanna, covering long, yellowish-white hair. His beard hangs down to his upper chest, stopping short of his necklace, which boasts three large, silver coins. Bright blue eyes shine out from a weathered face. He is barefoot, as always. (He tells me later that he gave up shoes in the seventies.)

This St. John icon says he is 69 years old but, in true Coral Bay fashion, won’t tell me his last name. (“Bill,” he replies, when I ask. “My first name is Pirate.”)

He is soft-spoken, which catches me off guard, surrounded as we are on this island by many grown men who are living out their Disney fantasies (fantasies not exclusive to the tropics, by the way) by flying the Jolly Roger from their boats and striding around bellowing AAARRRRGHHHH! (When I told a New Yorker friend that I was writing this story, he dramatically recited for me his one line from a college production of The Pirates of Penzance: “We are rough men! AAARRRRGHHHH!” he shouted into the phone. I also learned while doing research for my article—and by research, I mean drinking at various waterfront bars, asking if anyone had any good pirate stories—about Talk Like a Pirate Day. It’s September 19. According to the organizers’ Website, the date was chosen because it is the birthday of the ex-wife of one of the founders and, therefore, a date he could remember. Which is funny if you live in Oregon, like they do, but might explain why it’s not widely observed in the Caribbean, what with it being smack in the middle of hurricane season and all. These days, you can even choose “Pirate” as a language option on Facebook.)

But back to the real pirate.

A few nights before our meeting, Bill was playing horseshoes at Skinny Legs and I pointed him out to a little boy who was eating dinner with his family. Four-year-old Spencer from Connecticut went over and shook the intriguing-looking man’s leathery hand, then ran back to the table with his report: “He said his name was Pirate Bill!” he said, wide-eyed. “He said he had to dive down to get the treasure!”

Now it is my turn. I am in my beat-up Suzuki Sidekick, driving down the road toward Johnson Bay with Pirate Bill riding shotgun. We are talking about treasure. Real treasure. The treasure that Pirate Bill helped salvage off the Atocha, the famous Spanish galleon that sank off the Florida Keys in 1622, doomed by a hurricane that proved far more deadly than swashbuckling privateers.

I pull off to the side of the road and we get out of the car, squeeze through a half-open gate, and walk down a little path to the water. We come to a clearing nestled among mangroves and sea grape trees that is furnished with two old lawn chairs, a chaise lounge, a beautifully crafted table, and a hammock. It is decorated with coral, driftwood, some old fishing net and, literally, assorted flotsam and jetsam from Hurricane Marilyn and who knows how many other disasters at sea. It has a perfect ocean view.

“Nice spot,” I say.

“Pirate’s Beach Club,” Pirate Bill replies, inviting me to sit down.

He cracks open two Elephants and leans forward to give me a closer view of the small chain of gold links dangling from his left ear.

“This is the first gold we discovered,” he explains, recounting the thrill of recovering what was an eight-foot gold chain draped over a barrel sponge in about 40 feet of water off the coast of Key West.

Pirate Bill learned to dive in Las Vegas in the mid-60s, putting him among the first generation of SCUBA divers. He never intended to go treasure hunting. He moved to Key West, he says, to buy a sailboat, with the goal of impressing “little hippie girls” and maybe doing some bootlegging.

He got his boat, a 30-foot motor/sailboat named Evasion (“A good smuggling ship,” he confides), and wound up connecting with the legendary shipwreck hunter Mel Fisher.

We talked about the early days of the hunt, in the 70s, when there wasn’t much money or much faith in the expedition.

“When we had enough gas we’d go out looking,” he said. “When we ran out of gas we came back.”

In 1985, more than 350 years after the Atocha’s demise, Fisher’s team uncovered the mother lode. 250,000 pieces of eight. 47 tons of silver. 150,000 gold coins and bars. Thousands of uncut emeralds, some of them golf-ball sized. Not just the King’s Loot, to use Pirate Bill’s term for the treasure duly recorded on the manifest, but tons of illicit loot too, stuffed in cannons and lockers by the plundering crew.

“We were hauling up so much treasure that we were offloading onto other boats.”

So that silver around his neck?

Real treasure.

Spanish coins. A piece of one, a piece of two. And a piece of eight from the Atocha.

Bill grew up in Detroit, his closest pirate connection being his father, described by Bill as a math genius who, naturally, became a bookie. Dad got rich, with a little help from the mob, beginning what Bill calls his “charmed life.”

“I’ve been retired pretty much all my life,” he says. “I was an only-child-spoiled-brat who could do no wrong. But I was raised well.”

His life before St. John included a business running coin-operated pool tables in Vegas and British Columbia, some time in the Army (“hated every minute of it”), a stop at the University of Arizona, a stint working for the L.A. County roads department, a marriage, and three children. He left the Keys when they started getting overdeveloped, bought a $45 plane ticket to St. Croix and soon after ended up in Coral Bay.

He says he doesn’t really like to read or write or watch TV. He describes himself as a loner, who likes to think.

“Do you still go diving?” I ask. “Sailing? Swimming?”

He shakes his head.

“No,” he says.

Then he makes a real confession:

“I’m not much of a water person.”

To recap, the pirate doesn’t like the ocean, and his biggest treasure haul was legit.

“OK, well what is it about the pirate life that you identify with?” I ask.

“The pirates of the Caribbean were the first democracy on earth,” he responds.

He launches into some background on pirate codes and constitutions.

“It’s pretty well documented,” he informs the reporter.

Looks like the pirate was going to make me do some real research after all.

“Traditional buccaneers operated as a democracy.” (Answers.com)

“Historians are taking a second look at the seafaring thieves…To be sure, pirates were not generally nice guys. But at a time of tyranny in most countries, they elected their own captains, divided up their booty fairly, offered an early version of workmen’s compensation and gave black slaves a rare chance to live free.” (Associated Press)

And from the new Pirate Soul museum in Key West:

“Many of the social contracts were remarkably democratic for their time and place in the world. As pirates, sailors had an unprecedented level of control of their destiny.”

Dusk has turned to dark and the no-see-ums are biting with purpose. Our interview is about finished.

“I’ve had an excellent life,” Pirate Bill concludes.

“I’m able to do what I want to do and I’m responsible for my own actions and if I go out with other people, I have to give them a vote.”

He has just summed up what might be the prevailing code of this island, where most people feel a freedom to live by their own rules.

Whether you’re a visitor or a resident, you should always keep your eyes open for pirates. If you’re lucky, they’ll take you out for an adventure on the high seas. You might catch a glimpse of real treasure. Or maybe, if they’re the kind of pirates who don’t really like the water all that much, they’ll invite you back to their secret hideouts, where you can sit in silence and watch the sun go down, with a really good beer.

***

Look Who’s Back On Island…

Kenny Chesney posted this pic on his Facebook page Sunday night with the caption - "Off Tour."

Kenny Chesney posted this pic to his Facebook page Sunday night with the caption – “Off Tour”

Based on the Facebook photos that Kenny Chesney posted last night, it appears that his first stop post-tour was our beloved St. John. But seriously, should we expect anything less?

Kenny capped off the final stop of his No Shoes Nation tour Saturday night at Foxboro Stadium in Massachusetts, and by Sunday night, he was posting post-tour pics from what appeared to be his St. John home.

He posted this pic to his Facebook page a few minutes later.

Kenny posted this pic to his Facebook page a few minutes later.

Sadly, however, Saturday night was the last opportunity fans will have to see Kenny perform for quite some time as he recently announced he would be taking 2014 off from touring. But in true fashion, he went out with a bang, performing nearly 30 songs including the popular “When I See This Bar.” He dedicated the song’s final verse to his Virgin Islands friends who shared in his coming of age.

“It’s an incredible life,” Kenny wrote on his website. “Looking over and seeing all those faces, it was like ‘When I See This Bar’ was happening right there on stage right… and having Eric (Church) sing it with me, a guy who knows what it means to punch it out in a little dive bar with nobody there, well, that’s everything that song is! And everybody’s been there.”

More from Kenny’s website:

Being the end of tour, there were several “guests” of unlikely origin. NoShoesRadio.com’s Mark Tamburino free-rapped “Blister in the Sun,” while production steward Robin Majors blew some tasty harp on the set closing “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy.” Beyond a spot-on cover of “The Fireman,” Chesney evoked early U2 overtones on the outro of “Come Over” and the Dave Matthews Band on his reggae-tinged “Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven.”

But it was the hushed “Happy On the Hey Now,” considered to be the emotional center of Life On A Rock, Chesney’s 7th #1 Billboard Top 200 Albums debut, that brought almost 55,000 fans to a hush. Never played in concert, it was a starkly acoustic debut for the song written about living in the moment, the sudden loss of a dear friend and the preciousness of what is shared with friends.

“I was a little nervous about doing a song so quiet and so personal in a venue that big,” Chesney said. “But so many of the people who were part of that song were there… I knew those fans were just as much a part of my life, and I wasn’t going to see them again until 2015… and I wanted something to bind us all together. It was a risk, and when I saw all the lighters and cell phones with flames aloft, I knew it was the right decision.”

“Happy On the Hey Now” is a song dedicated to Kristi Hansen. Below is a beautiful video tribute to her:


The Dreaded Manchineel Tree

Optimized-Manchineel Tree

Ever notice the sign when heading out Waterlemon or Annaberg that screams:

Warning!

Manchineel Tree

The leaves, bark and fruits of these trees contain a caustic sap which may be injurious if touched. Columbus described the small, green fruits as “death apples.” The trees are common along the Caribbean shores. Avoid contact with any part of this tree!

Well after passing this sign countless times, we wanted to know more about it. So we did a little research and this is what we found:

The botanical name for this tree is Hippomane mancinella. Hippomane is actually derived from two Greek words: Hippo for horse and mane, which is a derivative of the word mania. The way the story goes is that a Greek philosopher gave the name Hippomane to a plant after realizing that horses became crazy after eating it. The word Manchineel, on the other hand, was derived from the Spanish word manzanilla, which means little apples. (The manchineel tree bears small fruits that resemble small apples.) So in a roundabout way, Hippomane mancinella is an easier way to say little apples that make horses go crazy. And that my friends, is how the manchineel tree got its name. (Ok, we kind of embellished that last part.)

But seriously, the manchineel tree is not something you want to mess around with. The manchineel tree produces a form of sap that can ooze out of its bark, branches, leaves and fruit. This sap is especially dangerous as it can cause serious, burn-like blisters when it touches the skin. Ingesting any part of the tree, including its fruit, can cause serious inflammation. Every single bit of this tree is poisonous. If you touch or ingest any part of it, the results could be fatal.

The manchineel tree is native to the Caribbean, Mexico, Central American and parts of southern Florida. It typically grows along the coastline and among mangroves. When mature, the manchineel tree can grow up to 50 feet high.

Bottom line: Stay as far away from this tree as possible.

Old Cannons Found on Cruz Bay Beach

Cannons

Photo by St. John Source

 

For those of you who aren’t on our Facebook page, we wanted to share a very cool story with you written by the folks at St. John Source. Apparently three old cannons were found on Cruz Bay Beach. The St. John Source does a great job reporting on the find and also gives some history as to where they may have come from.

Click here to read their full story.

Grande Bay Developer Avoids New Trial for Monetary Damages in Lawsuit

Grande Bay image
David Band, the real estate developer embroiled in a five-year legal battle over the construction of Grande Bay, will not have to face a new trial in a lawsuit that accuses him of defrauding his partner by not properly overseeing the project.

A Sarasota, Florida Circuit Court Judge ruled this week that Harold Libby is not entitled to a second trial to determine whether Band owes him money for the botched construction project that went grossly over budget before completion. A jury decided back in 2011 that Band did not defraud Libby and that Libby knew the “riskiness” of the Grande Bay project.

According to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Band said the judge’s decision “reaffirms that he was just a partner who also lost money in the deal — not a legal representative for Libby, who said he considered Band his personal attorney.”

“The jury found I have no responsibility whatsoever,” Band said earlier this week. “In fact, I never represented him. I had no responsibility or liability to him. They put practically everything but the kitchen sink in this complaint, and it’s totally false. It’s very discouraging to me.”

Libby sued Band in 2008, claiming that Band’s actions caused Libby to lose more than $1 million on the Grande Bay project. They’ve been battling it out in court ever since. This week’s decision ended their five-year battle.

It’s important to note that Band was the defendant in this lawsuit, not Bay Isles, LLLP, which is Grande Bay’s actual developer/development group. And while Band continues to have a financial interest in Bay Isles, he is not involved with Grande Bay’s day-to-day operations or its current direction and development.

Click here to view the case history on the Sarasota Clerk of Circuit Court website.

Click here to read the Herald-Tribune’s full article on the decision.

It’s That Time Again: Seasonal Closings List

Closed sign

As August winds down, numerous restaurants and bars are planning their annual seasonal closings. We’ve contacted them all and here’s who’s staying open, who’s closing, and who’s still not that sure (in no particular order):

Staying Open:

  • Zero Sushi
  • da Livio’s (Closed Tuesdays)
  • Deli Grotto
  • Beach Bar
  • High Tide
  • i Scream!
  • Sam and Jack’s Deli
  • Tap Room
  • Uncle Joe’s BBQ
  • Woody’s
  • Across the Street Bar 
  • Sun Dog Cafe (Wednesday Night Jam on hiatus until mid-October)
  • Morgan’s Mango
  • Barefoot Cowboy Lounge
  • Castaway’s Tavern

Closing:

  • Quiet Mon Pub: Closing from September 30 through October 4
  • The Fish Trap: Closing August 24; Reopening October 4
  • Banana Deck: Closing September 1; Reopening October 15
  • The Terrace: Closing September 23; Reopening October 15 (Approximately)
  • Lime Inn: Closing August 24; Outdoor bar reopens September 23; Restaurant reopens November 11
  • Motu Bar: Closing this week; Reopening mid-October
  • Ocean Grill: Closing after Labor Day; Reopening September 25
  • Waterfront Bistro: Closed for the month of September
  • Zozo’s Ristorante: Closed now; Reopening November 1 in its new location at Caneel
  • Baked in the Sun: Closing September 14; Reopening September 25
  • Fatty Crab: Closed on Tuesdays only through October 31
  • Margarita Phil’s: Closing August 31; Reopening either October 7 or October 14 (They’re still deciding on that.)
  • Ronnie’s Pizza: Closed now; Reopening September 2
  • Tamarind Inn: Closing for dinner only on September 21; Reopening for dinner on October 5 (Breakfast will continue to be served during this time)
  • Aqua Bistro: Closing September 4: Reopening September 9; Will have limited hours of noon through 7 p.m. through October 1; They will also be closed on Sundays from September 9 through October 1.
  • Vie’s Snack Shack: Closing September 1; Reopening in late October or early November
  • Shipwreck Landing: Closed August 30; Reopening November 4
  • Skinny Legs: Closing September 1; Reopening September 29; They will, however, be open on Sundays throughout September for football. There will be a limited menu. Skinny Legs will open at 1 p.m. on those Sundays and will be open until the end of the second football game.
  • Sweet Plantains: Closed now; Reopening in December
  • Tourist Trap: Closed now; Reopening on September 17
  • Cafe Concordia: Closed for the month of September
  • Chateau Bordeaux: Dinner is closed through October 1; Lunch is still being served
  • T’ree Lizards: Closing September 1; Reopening November 4
  • Cafe Roma: Closed due to the April fire; Reopening in November
  • Rhumb Lines: Closing September 17; Reopening October 9
  • La Tapa: Closing August 25; Reopening November 4
  • Spyglass: Closed for the month of October
  • Asolare: Closed on Sundays beginning September 8; Closing for the first two weeks of October; Reopening October 15
  • Cases By the Sea:

Still Not Sure:

  • Sogo’s: Undecided; Will depend on weather
  • Asolare

Closed Indefinitely:

  • Donkey Diner: Closed and listed for sale
  • Cruz Bay Prime: Closed with no current plans of reopening
  • JJ’s Texas Coast: Closed and sold to new owners; New restaurant opening in October
  • La Plancha del Mar: Closed and sold to new owners; New restaurant opening this fall
  • Sugar Mill at Caneel: Closed; Zozo’s moving into the space this fall

***There are a few restaurants that we were unable to confirm as of yet. Please check back as the list is evolving.***

Ferry and BVI Customs Fees Increased

FerryBoat

Well we hate to be the bearer of bad news, but we have two rate increases to tell you about. Fortunately they’re both relatively small.

We reported back in February that the Public Services Commission (PSC) was looking to increase rates after receiving a recommendation to do so from a technical consultant. Well PSC has moved forward with the increase, but it will only affect tourists or “non-residential adults” as they refer to them. Tourists will now have to pay an additional $1 when traveling by passenger ferry between St. John and St. Thomas. Checked bag rates will also increase by $1.50 per bag.

The increase will officially go into effect within 30 days of it being signed off on by the PSC Commissioner. At that time, tourists will start being charged $7 each way for trips between Red Hook and St. John, $13 for trips between Charlotte Amalie and St. John and $4.00 for checked bags.

The British Virgin Islands has also increased its departure tax for visitors who arrive and depart by ferry and charter boat. That tax was raised from $5 per person to $15 for non-residents. (BVI residents were also hit with this increase. Their departure tax was also raised from $5 per person to $10. The BVI is also looking to increase its air departure tax, however that’s still in the discussion phase.)

BVI Customs Building