So as you all know, our barge situation has been precarious since the 2017 hurricanes. We have three barge companies – Global Marine, which runs the General II; Love City Car Ferries, which runs the Grand Vic; and Boyson, Inc., which used to run the Mister B. The Mister B, the largest of the barges, was heavily damaged during the 2017 hurricanes and was taken to the States for repairs in late 2017. That barge has never returned, and we recently learned the company lost the barge due to the company’s legal issues pertaining to unpaid debts.
We currently have two barges that are running – the General II and Grand Vic. The General II has been down for a few days, leaving us with just one. But guess what? We have a brand new barge that is here on island and ready to transport passengers between St. John and St. Thomas. This could greatly alleviate the barge mess. But it’s sitting at the dock. And it may continue to sit there. So we’re asking that you voice your opinions and help us change this.
Delbert Parsons is a businessman here on island. He owns Seashore Allure along with Delrise Varlack. The Virgin Islands Port Authority contacted Delbert after the 2017 hurricanes and basically said they needed help to fix the barge situation. So he met with the Port Authority board, and they told him to move forward with procuring a new barge for the islands. He followed all of their instructions and brought his new barge, the Big Red Barge, to the islands late last month. He was told all he needed to do was pass a Coast Guard inspection, and he would be added to the schedule. He did just that, yet the Big Red Barge continues to sit at the dock. Delbert blames island politics.
“It’s kinda crazy to see the public suffering every day ‘mon,” Delbert told me yesterday afternoon. “The competition say they don’t want it, but the public want it.”
(Random side note: The Big Red Barge has firefighting abilities too. How cool is that?! That in itself is a huge asset.)
According to Delbert, the three barge companies – Global Marine, Love City Car Ferries and Boyson, Inc. – went straight to the governor and asked that Big Red not be added to the schedule.
“They went to the governor to stop the barge from running. Why is the governor getting involved? It’s crazy,” Delbert said. “How can a company with no barge go to the governor to stop me? But they did!”
According to Delbert, Varlack Ventures – one of the two companies that runs the passenger ferries – tried to enter the barge game three years ago, but were stopped by the three companies. They told the Port Authority they could “get the job done,” Delbert said. But clearly they could not. Three years later and the barge situation is still a mess. The General II goes down from time to time, and people get stranded at both docks.
The Port Authority board is scheduled to meet today and Delbert believes his barge will be discussed. If it goes in his favor, Delbert hopes his barge will run on the half hour. Currently, one barge leaves each dock on the hour.
So we’re curious about your thoughts? Do you think we need another barge here on St. John? Please answer the poll below.
We removed the poll from the website. We had well over 1,000 votes that originated from an IP address located in a specific US city. The IP address was not a shared IP address, but one linked to a specific user; therefore negatively affecting a simple poll.
If you’d like to express your opinion to the governor, please click this link to send him a message.
And if you’d like to express your opinion to the Port Authority, please click this link to send a message.
We will keep you all posted on this.