Jeff Miller Plans Swim from Virgin Gorda to St. John

Jeff Miller Plans Swim from Virgin Gorda to St. John 1

Good Morning, Good Morning! And happy Fri-YAY! I’m checking in with you all today to tell you about an amazing endeavor that St. John resident, Jeff Miller, will be attempting at some point in the next few weeks. Miller, the first person to ever swim around the entire island of St. John, will attempt to swim 15.5 miles from Virgin Gorda to St. John as soon as weather and current conditions permit. And he is attempting this incredible test of athleticism and skill in order to raise funds and awareness for two charities that exist simply to help people live more fulfilling and healthier lives.

On September 24, 2016, Miller swam 23.2 miles around the island of St. John beginning, and ending, at the old sea plane ramp in Cruz Bay. Taking off at 3:11AM, he left Cruz Bay, traversed the South Shore and swam AROUND Ram Head (can you imagine?). From there he swam, with only swim goggles and a silicone swim cap, around the East End and then Mary Point before the final stretch along the idyllic North Shore. He ended this lengthy and tiresome endeavor at 3:30 PM… circumnavigating the island of St. John in just over twelve hours.

Throughout the course of the preparation and completion of this 2016 swim, Miller and his supporters raised $12k for Team River Runner (TRR) and the St. John Cancer Fund (STJCF). And this spring, he is taking on a new and much more challenging venture to benefit the same groups. He will attempt to swim 15.5 miles through the Sir Francis Drake Channel from the shores of Virgin Gorda to the East End of St. John in the Drake Channel Swim for Soldier and Survivors.

A few things…You might be thinking, “Well, this is a shorter swim. So how is it more challenging?”
Albeit shorter, Miller will be navigating “uncharted” waters in this open water swim assisted along the way by a safety boat and two kayaks. You see, he was able to practice for the St. John circumnavigation by swimming different parts of the course over the time leading up to the 2016 swim. Due to customs and other factors, this will be his first time swimming the majority of this course.

Miller and one of his two safety kayak teams during the 2016 swim around St. John
Additionally, any open water swim such as this is INCREDIBLY dependent upon the currents and the weather being cooperative. For example, if the currents are pushing to the north, he could get pushed off course to Tortola, relinquishing the swim. Too far to the south? Miller and his safety crew end up south of Cooper Island and into open ocean. Again, relinquishing the finish line. The currents have to be working together JUST right in order to get Miller to his final destination: St. John.

I have a tremendous amount of respect and gratitude for the ocean that when I’m able to complete a swim, I feel like the ocean just let me play and do the things I need to do,” Miller told me on a quiet afternoon in the Mongoose Junction courtyard. “I didn’t beat the conditions. I was allowed to play in the conditions. Because many times you can’t.”
So, he continuously watches and waits and studies the currents and their patterns in order to understand the best time to green light the swim. The biggest challenge is that the currents can be read only about 36-48 hours out. So, this is going to be very much a last minute, hop in the boat and GO type of endeavor.

Sir Francis Drake Channel with Great Thatch Island at left and Tortola Island in the distance. – Photo: George H. H. Huey
Miller currently (pun intended) plans to take on this challenge sometime between May 24 and May 31. Why that window? Because during that time, three members of Team River Runner will be on St. John for the Friends of the Park Beach to Beach Power Swim. And he very much would enjoy these veterans being on the safety team to participate and ride along for this groundbreaking swim. But, Mother Nature beckons not to the call of man and our plans, as we have all seen before. If the conditions are not just right while the TRR team is on island, Miller told me he is still one hundred per cent committed to attempting the swim. It just may be a little later than the end of May.
In addition to being on the support team for this swim, Team River Runner, along with St. John Cancer Fund, will be a beneficiary of the funds raised surrounding the time frame and media hype of this undertaking. You might recognize the TRR name as this organization is no stranger to St. John. The group sponsors veterans’ travel to Love City to “find health, healing, community purpose, and new challenges through adventure and adaptive paddle sports.”

Photo: Team River Runner- St. John
Here they participate in an array of athletic and fundraising events each year. And it is awe inspiring. Veterans, many times wounded in combat, traverse the “8 Tuff Miles” across the island each February. They excel in the Beach to Beach Power Swim and Paddle the Park. They sweep St. John residents on the Chaotic Kayak course. And by supporting TRR with this fundraiser, Miller hopes that they will be able to send more veterans to participate in these activities and for a healing retreat in Love City.

Team River Runner member and Veteran, Travis Strong, was the first person to complete the 8 Tuff Miles across St. John using a hand cycle. PHOTO (2017)- Dean Greenaway VI Daily News
Speaking of Love City, the other recipient of the funds raised during this campaign is one that touches every single person who lives on this island. The St. John Cancer Fund is a grassroots organization set up to ease cancer-related financial hardships for St. John residents and their families. In short, they provide unrestricted financial assistance to cancer patients on an island that is vastly under-insured and without advanced health care options.

This funding can help with travel expenses for treatment, the treatment itself or simply overhead that the survivor can’t cover themselves while receiving treatment or recovering. In short, this fund is a security blanket for someone going through possibly the hardest time of their life with nowhere else to turn.
And all funds raised during this campaign will be split evenly between these two charities that support people and offer them a light in the darkest times. Like many charities, COVID-19 stopped in-person fundraising for these two charities in 2020 (the last annual Light up the Night walk for St. John Cancer Fund was held early 2020). Yet our amazing veterans still need our help, and sadly, cancer, has not gone away.

STJCF’s major annual fundraiser, Light up the Night, has not taken place since January of 2020.
Many of your favorite St. John businesses have sponsored a mile of this swim in support of these charities. 340 Real Estate, Coral Bay Adventures, Dulce Vita Sails, The Windmill Bar, Upstairs Bar, American Paradise Real Estate, Wharfside Watersports, Cinnamon Bay Campground, Coral Bay Yacht Club, North Shore Deli, High Tide, Lovango Resort + Beach Club, Beach Bar, Flyaway Charters, Island Roots Charters and Salty Daze Charters have all enlisted their fiscal support of Miller’s upcoming challenge.

Jeff Miller shows up in support of STJCF’s fundraising efforts at Windmill Bar last Sunday- Pictured: STJCF Board Member Hank Slodden (L), Jeff Miller (C), Bingo winner who donated ALL of his winnings to the cause(R)!
But there are other ways to donate in honor of our soldiers and survivors! Giving is easy and it is just a click of the button and donations can be made either via credit card or check online. $5, $50 or $500 all make a difference in bringing more veterans down to enjoy St. John and supporting one more survivor’s battle with cancer. Please visit the kindful donation platform to support this incredible challenge!
If you are a business on St. John or St. Thomas and are interested in sponsorship opportunities, please contact the fundraiser via email for more information.
Oh, and you can follow along with updates about the swim via the Drake Channel Swim for Soldiers and Survivors Facebook event. Here, detailed information about the status of the swim and donation goals will be shared so you can all follow along from commencement to the finish line!

Miller, still smiling, after his 23 mile swim around St. John in 2016- Photo- St. Thomas Source
Please take a moment to watch this video that Miller observed in person that was the inspiration for much of his effort, both the 2016 swim and this current one. “These TRR guys are amazing and so worthy of our support. This will be a different type of Chaotic Kayak event!”

Taste of Lovango Culinary Festivities Kick-Off Tomorrow!

Taste of Lovango Culinary Festivities Kick-Off Tomorrow! 2

The inaugural food festival, Taste of Lovango, will take place this Tuesday through Thursday (May 2-4) at Lovango Resort + Beach Club and feature two up-and-coming celebrity chefs from the New York area, Robbie Feliz and Brian Arruda.  The featured chefs, along with Lovango’s Executive Chef, Stephen Belie, are longtime friends and are planning three days of an amazing culinary program in this truly beautiful setting.

Read moreTaste of Lovango Culinary Festivities Kick-Off Tomorrow!

Getaway to Love City: Last Chance to Win a Trip for 2 to St. John!

Getaway to Love City: Last Chance to Win a Trip for 2 to St. John! 3

Good Morning, Good Morning!  We are in the final week of the Island Green Living Fundraiser that gives all of YOU the chance to win an amazing (and nearly all-inclusive) trip to St. John with seven nights at Gallows Point Resort, a rental Jeep, airfare vouchers and all of the dining, shopping and fun-in-the-sun activities you could ask for.  This third annual Earth Month raffle not only gives you the opportunity to win this trip to St. John but also to support a great community organization that has a visible impact on island.

Read moreGetaway to Love City: Last Chance to Win a Trip for 2 to St. John!

Reef Safe Sunscreen, Boating and WINNING a Trip to St. John!

Reef Safe Sunscreen, Boating and WINNING a Trip to St. John! 4

Good Morning, Good Morning!  I’m writing to all of you today about THREE of my favorite topics!  Boating, reef safe sunscreen and the Island Green Living Earth Month Fundraiser.  It’s very exciting stuff for me when these three topics come together for a little education, some entertaining story telling AND a chance for all of you to enter to win a trip to come visit all of us on St. John!  As we have talked about over the past few weeks since the fundraiser launched, Island Green Living is up to some really amazing stuff here on island and they have put together an amazing seven-night prize package for you to enter to win in support of their efforts.  But, today, we chat about reefs, sunscreen and boats…All of which you’ll happily experience as the winner of this nearly all-inclusive trip to Love City (valued at over $11,000!).

Read moreReef Safe Sunscreen, Boating and WINNING a Trip to St. John!

Enter to Win a Trip for 2 to Love City!!!

Enter to Win a Trip for 2 to Love City!!! 5

Good Morning, Good Morning!  Who is ready for a trip to Love City???  All of us.  Always.  Right?  Well, once again, Island Green Living Association will be sending one lucky dynamic duo on a luxurious getaway to St. John, complete with airfare, ocean front accommodations, Jeep rental, dining, shopping, excursions and more!  Sure sounds like it might cut down on the vacation budget for the lucky someone who wins, right?  Well, for just $50, any one of you could win this amazing vacation package (valued at $11,000!) to your favorite little rock AND support an amazing organization aimed at keeping things beautiful here in the process.  Sounds like a win, win?  Let’s take a closer look at the lodging and transportation portion of this getaway for two to Love City!

Read moreEnter to Win a Trip for 2 to Love City!!!

Enter to Win a Trip for 2 to Love City!!!

Enter to Win a Trip for 2 to Love City!!! 6

GOOD MORNING!  I mentioned when I left my full-time role this winter that I would be doing some freelancing from time to time.  And you didn’t think I could stay away from promoting my favorite organization’s annual Earth Day Fundraiser, did you? 😉  This year, Island Green Living is working with some incredible partners including the USVI Department of Tourism, Lime Out, Gallows Point Resort, Lovango Resort + Beach Club, Kekoa, Sailing Asante (that’s us!), Seashell Vacation Rentals and MANY more amazing USVI businesses to bring you the best prize package yet.

This year’s all-inclusive trip to Love City, valued at $11,000, includes $1000 in airfare vouchers in addition to all of the dining, shopping, activities and transportation the lucky winner will need for a picture-perfect WEEK on St. John!  But before we get into the details of this amazing trip for two to Love City, let me just tell you a couple of things about what you’ll be supporting with the purchase of your raffle tickets….

Read moreEnter to Win a Trip for 2 to Love City!!!

Up & Coming: Taste of Lovango Culinary Weekend at Lovango Resort + Beach Club

Up & Coming: Taste of Lovango Culinary Weekend at Lovango Resort + Beach Club 7

Good Morning, Good Morning!  It has been a LONG time since we have seen an elevated culinary event on St. John!  Anyone out there remember the Taste of St. John that happened annually at the Westin?  Well, it was one of my favorite evenings of the year but hasn’t occurred since before Hurricane Irma.  And, while this weekend of culinary festivities on Lovango Cay may look a bit different than Taste of St. John did, this three-day celebration of renowned chefs, fine foods, locally crafted spirits and elevated wines promises to be a fantastic way to spend a day or an evening (or three!) celebrating the arts of food and drink in style.

Read moreUp & Coming: Taste of Lovango Culinary Weekend at Lovango Resort + Beach Club

Flyaway Charters to Open Pirate’s Cove Shop in Coral Bay!

Flyaway Charters to Open Pirate's Cove Shop in Coral Bay! 8

Good Morning, Good Morning!  I would be remiss if I didn’t “dive” into one last story from the sea before I finish things up here!  Well, technically this one is on land, but if you take a wander into the new Pirate’s Cove Shop across from Skinny Legs in Coral Bay, you are bound to be inspired (and better equipped!) to get out there on the water to explore!

Read moreFlyaway Charters to Open Pirate’s Cove Shop in Coral Bay!

Business Spotlight: Spend the Best Day (or Days!) of Your Vacation on Asante

Business Spotlight: Spend the Best Day (or Days!) of Your Vacation on Asante 9

Good Morning, Good Morning!  Our regular time together here is coming to an end shortly, unfortunately.  But I will be checking in with you regularly right here on News of St. John in between our adventures at sea on Asante.  So, I thought it might be fitting to leave you all with a little info on what we will be up to on Asante in this next chapter of life so you can check in with us when you are visiting next!

Read moreBusiness Spotlight: Spend the Best Day (or Days!) of Your Vacation on Asante

Caneel Bay Update: NPS Narrows Public Comment Scope to Two Options

Caneel Bay Update: NPS Narrows Public Comment Scope to Two Options 10

Good Morning, Good Morning!  It has been a LONG time since we did a proper Caneel Bay update.  And with the window closing rapidly on the expiration of the Retained Use Estate (the RUE is the 40-year Rockefeller contract) it is good to see some new traction on the part of the National Park Service (NPS) in these hopefully dwindling months of Caneel Bay Acquisitions, Inc. (CBAI) control of the once thriving resort property.  We probably won’t have any true answers about the next steps at Caneel Bay until the NPS makes their decision based on this final round of public comments (Spring 2023).  But this is one of the final steps on narrowing the scope of what’s next.  And NPS is on the hunt for more community input to add to this important decision-making process.

Read moreCaneel Bay Update: NPS Narrows Public Comment Scope to Two Options