The Original Ferry Circa 1938

m:v falmingo first ferry

Photo by Dr. George H. H. Knight

I was perusing Facebook this morning when I came across a picture that was of great interest to me. It shows what the Cruz Bay dock looked like back in 1938. The picture was posted by David Whitney Knight Sr. Here is what he wrote:

“The M/V Flamingo, St. John’s first regularly scheduled ferry, arrives at Cruz Bay dock in the winter of 1938. My mother, Anna, is the woman facing the camera.”

And here is the original ferry schedule, also courtesy of David Whitney Knight Sr.:

ferry schedule 1036

Pretty neat, right?

As Mr. Knight pointed out in the comments, take note of one of the places the ferry departed from – Leinster Bay. The ferry also mades stops in Coral Bay at that time. I’m curious when all of that stopped.

For those of you who enjoy learning about St. John’s history and seeing old pictures as much as I do, please check out the St. John Historical Society at www.stjohnhistoricalsociety.org

Friday’s Forecast = Somewhat Dry

drinks at rum hut

It looks like tomorrow’s going to be a rather dry day here on St. John. Well at least until four o’ clock.

Good Friday is the one day of the year that alcohol sales are restricted by V.I Code. That means that bars, restaurants and even the markets are not able to sell liquor between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. This means no Painkillers, no Bushwackers, no rum and Cokes, etc. You can, however, drink wine and beer all day long should you choose to.

Here’s the official details…

Pursuant to Title 1, Section 171(b) V.I.C., distilled liquor and drinks prepared therewith shall not be served in public places of refreshments between the hours of 9:00 o’ clock in the morning and 4:00 o’clock in the afternoon on Good Friday. Violation of this subsection will result in a fine of not more than $200 or imprisonment for not more than one year, or both.

WWII War Warship to Become Artificial Reef in BVIs

An aerial shot of B.V.I Art Reef under construction, with its massive Kraken sculpture already in place - Image credit: Owen Buggy for Bloomberg

An aerial shot of B.V.I Art Reef under construction, with its massive Kraken sculpture already in place – Image credit: Owen Buggy for Bloomberg

Now this is a very cool story…

Sir Richard Branson, one of our coolest neighbors over in the British Virgin Islands (and I say that because he is the ultimate conservationist and philanthropist), is sinking a WWII warship so it can become an artificial reef. The warship is one of five surviving ships from the Pearl Harbor attack.

Bloomberg did a really nice writeup on the project dubbed the B.V.I. Art Reef just a few days ago. Check it out:

Richard Branson’s Latest Travel Project Is Underwater – Unlike Virgin Galactic, this one’s meant for the masses.

by Nikki Ekstein

Richard Branson has launched many a business venture. Rarely has he intentionally sunk one.

But that’s exactly what he’ll do on April 10 (weather permitting), when he cuts the ribbon for his latest endeavor, a historic naval ship turned scuba site just south of Mountain Point in Virgin Gorda, part of the British Virgin Islands. When it sinks into the Atlantic Ocean, the Kodiak Queen—one of five surviving ships from the attack on Pearl Harbor—will officially become B.V.I Art Reef, a man-made marine ecosystem and otherworldly dive site crowned by an 80-foot-long Kraken sculpture.

It may be located near the billionaire’s exclusive Necker Island estate, but Branson’s new project is as democratic as they come.

For one thing, unlike Virgin Galactic which will be shooting tourists into space for $250,000 a pop, visiting the B.V.I. Art Reef is free if you take yourself, and is not meant to be a massive moneymaker at all. Proceeds will come in through diving operators—a majority of whom charge a modest $100 for single-tank dives at other sites in the B.V.I. What’s raised from local outfitters will be funneled out to support various regional causes, from marine preservation to social justice initiatives. Boosting youth swimming-education programs at Branson’s multifaceted, not-for-profit foundation, Unite B.V.I., is one big-picture goal.

“The B.V.I is a collection of small islands surrounded by beautiful coral reefs full of life, yet many people from the B.V.I have never had the opportunity to witness this thriving underwater world because they have never had the opportunity to learn how to swim,” Branson told Bloomberg in an interview, citing a statistic that one in 10 children is unable to get across a pool. “One of the reasons why I have been supportive about this project is that I believe it will inspire people to want to learn how to swim, snorkel, and ultimately scuba dive—and my greatest hope is that, as that happens, they will fall in love with the world that lives beneath the surface and will become passionate to protect and preserve it.”

Workers assembling the Art Reef. Photographer: Owen Buggy

 While marine conservation is a personal passion for Branson, B.V.I Art Reef began with an entirely different preservation story, that of the decommissioned Kodiak Queen. Despite the ship’s historic significance, it had decayed past the point of repair; an unknown owner had abandoned it in the B.V.I., and it was scheduled for demolition after spending years in a junkyard. In short, the Kodiak Queen had become an eyesore.

“In the B.V.I, we have a lot of derelict ships that are aground on the main island of Tortola,” explained Branson. “They detract from the natural beauty of the place.”

One of Branson’s team members, a marine mechanic and photographer named Owen Buggy, saw an opportunity: “[Buggy] pitched the idea to me of cleaning this ship of any environmental hazards and then intentionally sinking it to become an artificial reef and recreational dive site,” recalled Branson. It didn’t take much convincing for the serial entrepreneur to get on board.

The Kodiak Queen, amid transformation. Source: Unite BVI

Restoring the Kodiak Queen has been a nine-month endeavor. Though the investment sum was undisclosed, the project is likely to have cost more than $4 million, which is what it cost to create and sink another artificial reef in Palm Beach, Fla., earlier this year. The project was made possible by funding from Maverick1000, a global network of industry disruptors; engineering help from B.V.I-based Commercial Dive Services; and the artistic vision of six creative masterminds from Secret Samurai Productions, Art Reef B.V.I.

“We’ve been fortunate that, through collaboration, we’ve been able to accomplish what would have been very challenging—well, impossible—to do on our own,” said Branson.

At a private party on April 12, after it’s had a couple of days to settle on the ocean floor, Branson and his team will take an inaugural dive around the site and then honor the 15 founding members (and other helping hands) at a party back at Necker Island.

The rebar-and-mesh Kraken, before being set atop the ship. Photographer: Secret Samurai Productions

A robust coral grafting program will follow. In time, Branson expects the coral to propagate naturally and create a thriving ecosystem—one that he hopes will bring back the endangered goliath grouper. (Having the massive fish in these waters doesn’t just make for good diving; grouper are also natural predators of invasive lionfish.)

Simultaneously, marine researchers will come in and start studying the effects of artificial reefs on rehabilitating over-trafficked dive sites. And the Art Reef team will also work with local operators to create “dive adventures” (think: scavenger hunts) throughout the site, encouraging travelers to support small businesses, rather than tackling the site on their own. A portion of those proceeds will then cover site maintenance, making the project fully self-sustained. It’s almost as if one of the world’s smartest businessmen came up with the proposal.

The Baths, a must-see corner of Virgin Gorda. Source: BVI Tourist Board

Luckily for travelers, it’s never been easier to get to the B.V.I: The first direct flights from the U.S. to Tortola will launch this summer on B.V.I Airways, with departures from Miami. As a bonus, Laurance Rockefeller’s 50-year-old resort on Virgin Gorda, Little Dix Bay, is soon to emerge from a multimillion-dollar facelift courtesy of Rosewood. It’s closer to the Art Reef than Branson’s flamingo-filled Necker Island, which sits on a private spit of land on the northern end of the archipelago. Then again, yachting over from Necker doesn’t sound quite so bad, either.

Wagapalooza Happening on May 20th

wagapalooza (1)

Wagapalooza, the Animal Care Center’s zany and anything but typical dog show, will be held on Saturday, May 20th from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Winston Wells Ball Field in Cruz Bay. This very cool event is a fundraiser for the ACC, an organization near and dear to our hearts here at News of St. John.

As in past years, classes to be judged include Best Old Timer, Best Costume, Best Adult Handler,  Best Look Alike (to owner), Best Shelter Rescue, Babe Award, as well as Waga King and Queen.

There will be grilled burgers and hot dogs, as well as a full bar at the event (for purchase of course). There will also be face painting, a photo booth, an ice cream cart, as well as a great raffle that includes items like boat trips, jewelry, gift certificates from many of our island’s businesses, hotel and resort stays, and fabulous dinners at our fine island restaurants. You can purchase raffle tickets at the event or beforehand at the ACC and St. John Hardware.

Admission is free; however if you’d like to register your dog for the show, it’s $20 per class or three classes for $50 ($25 per class at the door). Children under 16 are half price, but must be accompanied by an adult.

If you are interested in entering your dog, just stop by the shelter between or go to www.wagapalooza.com to register. There will be registration the day of the event starting at 4:30 p.m. Judging begins at 6 p.m.

If you’re a business here on island and are interested in sponsoring the event, please contact Lucy Banks, ACC President, at lucyandbill@earthlink.net

As always, all proceeds from the event go directly to the ACC. Monies raised are used to keep the shelter open, medicate the cats and dogs, fund travel to send the animals to their “forever homes” and to purchase food for the ACC’s feeding stations which are located throughout the island and help St. John’s homeless kittens and cats.

Click here to visit the ACC’s website.

Explore St. John with Jenn from News of St. John

News of St. John Tours
A couple of weeks back, we told you how we launched a new tour guide business. We’ve had several tours so far, and it’s been going very well. It’s also been super fun! So today we thought we’d share a bit about our tours in hopes that you may decide to book with us on your next vacation. We’d love to meet you and show you around! :)

Our tours are best for a few types of people:

1. People who prefer not to rent a car. We can take you all to places the taxis will not.

2. People who’d rather not drive on the left … leave the driving up to us!

3. People who like to go off the beaten path but are not comfortable doing so by themselves. We know all the best out of the way beaches, ruins and fun places.

4. People who’d like to indulge in a few adult libations. You can do so without having to worry about driving home.

During our first week, we took guests to Hansen Bay, Lameshur Bay, Denis Bay and Maho Bay. We visited ruins at Lameshur Bay, as well as Annaberg. And each one of our tours always ended in the same place – Angel’s Rest, the Virgin Islands’ only floating bar. How fun is that?!

angels rest april 5 (1)

Angel’s Rest, the Virgin Islands’ only floating bar, on April 5th

We received great reviews, which really made us happy. Click here to read a review about us on Travel Talk Online.

Ready to spend a day with us? You can contact us at jenn@newsofstjohn.com.

Want to know more about the tours? Click here for a brief overview.

Click here to learn more about Your Day on a News of St. Jonh Tour. 

Click here to learn more about the Destinations we can visit during a News of St. John Tour. 

Thanks everyone and happy Monday!