I am thankful and grateful for all of the kind emails and messages that I have received over the years. I am so appreciate that you have taken time out of your busy lives to do so. Your love is overwhelming.
I am thankful and grateful for this island and its ability to heal so beautifully.
I am thankful and grateful for my St. John friends who have become my island family. (We’re going to have one heck of a Thanksgiving celebration at my house today!)
And lastly, I am thankful for my family and especially for Dalton. He’s going to be 17 months this weekend, and it’s crazy how time flies. He’s running (not walking!) and chatting up a storm. He said “donkey” for the first time the other day, and I grinned from ear to ear. He keeps us busy and makes life so much better in every way.
Now I would like to end’s today’s post with a quick little survey which may help put an end to a yearly Thanksgiving debate… Do you call one of your Thanksgiving sides stuffing or dressing? To me, dressing goes on a salad. And stuffing is a Thanksgiving side dish. But perhaps that’s a northeast thing. Let me know!
Hello all, just a quick post this Thanksgiving Eve. Many people have asked to see the Caneel Bay documents that we referenced in a story earlier this week, including one of the top newspapers in the United States. We shared them with the newspaper, so we thought it would only make sense to share them with you all too. Please click the links to open the documents. A new window will open. The documents are large, so they may take a bit to lead. Happy reading.
The annual Thankspigging pot luck dinner is returning to Coral Bay this year, and as always, it’s expected to be a great event. Thankspigging will begin at 4 p.m. Thursday. It’s happening over at Skinny’s and all are welcomed. Everyone is asked to bring a dish to share – an entree, side, dessert, etc.
Each Thankspigging event has a theme. This year’s theme is “Empty Spit Feed.”
So how exactly did Thankspigging begin? Here’s the story straight from Ken Yolman, the man behind the event:
In the Beginning…….. THANKSGIVING My first island Thanksgiving was spent on Tortola in 1996. I had moved to Jost Van Dyke in the middle of October not knowing any one. I rented a house at Tula’s Campground in Little Harbor. The campground had been blown away during Bertha but the owner Lorna had a weekend shackteau still standing. Her girlfriend Dealia invited me to spend Thanksgiving day with her, family and friends, which I eagerly accepted. This was the first time I realized how lonely it could be at Thanksgiving with no family or friends to share a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.
Arthur’s ferry “When” was not running but I was able to hitch a ride on “Lady Diane”, a barge along with four dump trucks to Tortola. Taxi from Soper’s Hole to Dealia’s house on Apple Bay. Met new friends, had excellent food and was introduced to Guava Berry Wine.
Dealia’s family had a large glass cask filled with various berries and sugar cane rum. It ferments over the years as they add to it with more berries and rum each yearafter the hilidays. This one was six years old and they have had them up to 15 years. Needless to say I liked it so much I fell out early.
The next morning I got the 25 cent tour of Tortola and caught the “When” back to Little Harbor.
Coral Bay was my next Thanksgiving. I started the day with breakfast at the old Sea Breeze. While eating a bagel and cream cheese, I was invited to a local’s pot luck gathering at Lameshur Bay later in the day. Walked over to Skinnys. Skinny’s first female cook, Melisa had won a turkey in Skinny’s Turkey Shoot. Being a vegetarian she had never cooked a turkey and with Moe’s permission she was cooking the bird in Skinny’s old oven. About an hour into the cooking, Moe arrived. “Did you take everything out?” “Take what out?” “The neck, giblets you know, the stuff they put down its neck?” Melissa’s face turned red. Seizing the moment, Moe burst into action. Dressed with an apron, paper hat and a surgical mask he open the oven door and dove in like a seasoned gynecologist. Wielding his long tongs into the big bird and coming out with the neck, exclaiming, “Look its a boy”.
I hitch hiked out to Lameshur for the local’s feast.
It was embarrassing not being financial well enough to bring something to share. They all insisted to help yourself and don’t worry about it. About 30-40 people had brought turkeys to reefer brownies and everything in between. Pirate Bill had his volleyball net in place, half in the water and half out. Tried not to make a pig of myself and limit the beers. Met a lot of locals and ate a lot of excellent food.
Hitched back to Sputnicks. I had met Evonne during the year and she had invited me to come and eat with her and family. Evonne and her twin sister, who did not look anything like her, had been cooking for 3 days. She had duck, lamb, ham, turkey and an open bar. More excellent food and live music. Evonne sang the blues while Chris, Greg and Cliff backed her. Whistler Doug and Ron on his harp joined later. I started realizing that here in Coral Bay it was an extended family Thanksgiving tradition. I also learned Evonne use to work at Sputnicks from the day it opened and waited tables on roller skates.
By Thanksgiving 1998, I had progressed from hitchhiking to a red Cherokee. And I was able to bring a six pack of Bud to share. Not much yet but it was a small offering to start. About 40-50 locals with once again excellent food from the 5 turkeys to the 3 pans of my favorite brownies. Didn’t stay long then drove to Maho Campground. Pants Man Dan was cooking their Thanksgiving Dinner and had invited me. I sat alone at a table and had my first traditional and complete Thanksgiving dinner.
Thanksgiving 1999 found the Lameshur matriarchs, especially English Steve’s Laurie refusing to cook any more. “We’re tired of cooking for all you mooches who don’t bring anything.” This year I was on my own. Having a little more in my pocket this year I drove to town only to find not one restaurant opened. Luckily the old Marina Market was opened. I grabbed a steak and went home alone to have steak and garlic mashed potatoes. I think it was then I started thinking that once I could afford it I’d have my own feast where everyone was welcomed. It would not matter if you brought anything or not. Then there would always be a place to eat a home cooked Thanksgiving dinner and not be alone.
The Millennium Thanksgiving found me home alone once again. I made the traditional garlic mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce and a 7lb lobster. I vowed to never eat alone on Thanksgiving again. I think that’s when I first thought of “Thankspigging.” I’d provide a big cheap pig, garlic mashed potatoes and all the beer one could drink. I would ask everyone to bring whatever they thought they made the best to share. And if you were not able to bring anything they would always be welcomed.
And hopefully by next Thanksgiving, I’d be able to afford it.
What a great story! So again, this year’s Thankspigging event will start at 4 p.m. this Thursday at Skinny Legs. All are welcome.
Caneel Bay was “grossly underinsured” when Hurricane Irma hit, the resort’s insurer wrote in court documents filed earlier this year. The documents shed some more light on what may be happening behind the scenes at Caneel Bay. As you likely have read here on News of St. John, the property has sat in shambles since September 6, 2017, the day Hurricane Irma hit St. John.
According to the documents, CBI Acquisitions chose to obtain property and business interruption insurance for a total limit of $32 million per occurrence. This was “despite its own determination that the total insurable value was $65,413,068,” its insurer wrote in court documents. “Thus, the Caneel Bay Properties were grossly underinsured,” the insurer continued.
Caneel collected $32 million from damages sustained during Hurricane Irma. It filed a separate claim for $32 million following Hurricane Maria. The insurer denied that claim stating:
“Based on the evidence available, there is no additional damage caused by Hurricane Maria that was not considered in the scope of damages from Hurricane Irma. Specifically, the Report concludes “that there is no additional scope required to address the effects of Maria on the subject property that is not already included in the repairs required to address the effects of Irma. Thus, at this time, Insurers have not identified any damages covered under the Policy from Hurricane Maria.”
There is a clause in the insurance documents that states the two parties can go to arbitration if an agreement cannot be made with regard to claims. When the two sides could not agree on an arbitrator or umpire, the insurers filed a lawsuit.
“This lawsuit arises out of an insurance coverage dispute. Caneel Bay Resort and surrounding properties on St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, owned by CBIA, suffered significant damage from Hurricane Irma,” the lawsuit reads. “CBIA and the Insurers (the “Parties”) resolved the Hurricane Irma claim with the Insurers paying out the $32 million limit of coverage. CBIA, however, contends that it suffered a separate $32 million loss as a result of Hurricane Maria. As the Parties could not agree as to the scope of covered damages arising from Hurricane Maria, if any, the subject insurance policies’ arbitration provision was invoked by CBIA. The election of arbitration triggered a requirement that each party appoint a “competent and disinterested” arbitrator and then the party-appointed arbitrators were to appoint a neutral umpire.”
It is unclear whether an arbitrator and umpire was agreed upon or whether CBI Acquisitions received an insurance payout stemming from Hurricane Maria, as the lawsuit was voluntarily dismissed one month after its filing.
CBI Acquisitions has publicly stated that it will cost an estimated $100 million to rebuild Caneel Bay. Last spring, they asked the federal government for a $70 million payout in exchange for them walking away and handing the resort back to the National Park Service prior to the expiration of their Retained Use Estate agreement. That agreement expires in late 2023. If they do not receive the payout, CBI Acquisitions could very well hold onto the property and leave it as is for the next four years. It does not appear that they are required to repair any of the damages sustained during Hurricane Irma prior to the end of their leasehold.
CBI Acquisitions is also being sued by Bluewater Construction, Inc., a company hired to renovate several units at Caneel Bay prior to the 2017 hurricanes. This is a completely separate lawsuit and is not related to insurance coverage or the hurricanes. According to court documents, CBI Acquisitions owes Bluewater Construction, Inc. $214,416.55 for breach of contract, and breach of duty of good faith & fair dealing. That lawsuit is ongoing.
We reached out to CBI Acquisitions and Bluewater Construction, Inc. for comment. We received read receipts from both, however neither have responded.
There’s a few telltale signs that high season is either pretty darn close or here… The mega yachts arrive and so do the cruise ships. Back in October, we told you about a pretty impressive 380-foot yacht that stopped along St. John’s East End. And today, we’d like to tell you that the cruise ships have arrived in Cruz Bay for the season.
But before you get a bit nervous at the thought of cruise ships overrunning Cruz Bay, the ships that stop here are very small. And this isn’t a new occurrence. Each winter, beginning in October or November, Seadream anchors just off of Cruz Bay. The boat is 355 feet long – smaller than the mega yacht that visited last month – and carries 112 passengers. Guests are ferried from the ship to the island.
Seadream first visited St. John back on November 10th. According to the USVI cruise ship schedule, it will return again on December 8, 11, 22 and 29. It has four visits planned in January, two in February and one in March. The Silver Shadow cruise ship will also make a handful of stops on St. John. It can carry up to 382 passengers. The largest cruise ship to visit St. John will arrive on Monday, December 23rd. That ship is called the Volendam and it can carry 1,432 passengers. That’s a lot of people to spill onto the streets and beaches, so keep that in mind if you are on island that day.
Want to know which ship is visiting when? You can check out the USVI Cruise Ship Schedule at www.vinow.com.
It’s hard to believe that the holidays are right around the corner! This means that lots of fun events are happening soon, including the prom! Here are the details straight from the organizers…
The 22nd Annual All Island Holiday Party will take place in Mongoose Junction Saturday, December 14 from 9:00 pm. The event is hosted by The Sun Dog Cafe, Paradise Lumber and the Mongoose Merchants Association.
The All Island Holiday Party (aka “the prom”) has its roots in trying to rebuild the community after Hurricane Marilyn in 1995, and through the years has become a social highlight for many full time St. Johnians and a homecoming for many seasonal residents. It’s an opportunity to dress up and celebrate the holidays in the gracious courtyards of Mongoose Junction, with friends new and old, amid holiday cheer and festive decorations. The party celebrates diversity and unity as it brings together St. Johnians of all distinctions, reminds us of the many of blessings we have, and of the special qualities of our community.
Music will be performed by St. John’s own In the Sand Band, featuring Shimika Jones-Sprauve, performing in the center courtyard from 9 pm to 1 am. Abundant appetizers are served. Cash bars will be available. Adults only, please. No pets, please. Island Fancy Attire, please.
I’m sure this will be a great event as always! I hope to see you all there! Have a wonderful day everyone, and remember… In a world where we can be anything, be kind. 🙂
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.
Hello everyone and happy Tuesday! Well yesterday’s poll showed how much you all love the island of St. John. We will run the poll a few more days, and then we will post the results. Have you ever given thought to potentially owning a property here on island as opposed to simply visiting every then and again? Well today, we have a nice piece of St. John real estate to share with all of you.
Nestled among the trees in tranquil Fish Bay, this cozy home has been successfully short-term rented for the past 10 years with the owners in residence. The upper level has a master bedroom and bath, as well as kitchen, dining, living areas and a screened-in breakfast room. Stone paths lead to charming sitting areas around the property, to the downstairs bedrooms, hammocks and decks. There is an 8,500 KW Kubota diesel generator with sound proof enclosure and 80 gallon manual fuel tank – a great added feature here on the island.
You can opt to continue this as a successful short term rental or convert it back to a traditional home to live in. This property is being sold as is.
Ready to own a piece of St. John real estate? Treetops is being offered for $770,000. For more information, please contact Tammy Donnelly of 340 Real Estate Co. at [email protected].
340 Real Estate Co. will donate a portion of the proceeds it receives from the sale of this property to the St. John Cancer Fund.
Hello everyone and happy Friday! Who wants to take a quick ride on the Cruz Bay ferry with me?! I recorded the following video yesterday morning as I was traveling over to St. Thomas. I know you all prefer to be taking the Cruz Bay ferry to St. John as opposed to St. Thomas (which usually means you’re heading home – boo to that!), but I still thought you’d enjoy seeing the beautiful scenery and turquoise waters. It’s just over a minute long. Enjoy!
Well this is pretty exciting “news” to share… Someone on St. John is going to win a trip to Necker Island! Not familiar with Necker? Well it’s a pretty swanky private island over in the British Virgin Islands, and it happens to be owned by Sir Richard Branson. Its hosting a concert as part of the 2019 Necker Cup, and someone here on St. John will perform at it. How exciting is that?! Here are all the details straight from Maho Crossroads…
Maho Crossroads will host a contest for musical artists Thanksgiving Week resulting in one Virgin Islands-based act going on to play the main stage at the Legends Music Experience on Necker Island. This year, performers at The Legends Music Experience – which again is part of the 2019 Necker Cup, a pro-am tennis event – include Florida Georgia Line, Skip Marley, Zia Victoria and Jewel. Kenny Chesney performed at the 2018 Necker Cup.
On November 27, 29 and 30, locally-based artists will compete at Maho Crossroads – the new tiki bar across the street from Maho Bay – for the opportunity to open for one of these national acts. The first place musical act will win an all expenses paid trip to Necker Island to perform. Artists already scheduled to play in the competition include Jon Gazi, Mother Goat, IslandGirlMusic- Erin Hart, Chasing Hues, Mark & EVA, Lauren & Bo, Jared Courter and RainDance.
Maho Crossroads is currently accepting submissions for additional artists. Interested parties can fill out the application at www.mahocrossroads.com/blog. The deadline for submissions is November 20.
Musical acts interested in competing that week should meet the following criteria:
1. 4 pieces or less
2. No electronic music or djs
3. Based in the Virgin Islands for at least 6 months of the year
4. Willingness to promote the event and your presence on social media
5. Must be on St. John and available to perform November 27 – 30
6. Must have availability to travel to BVI December 6 – 9
Crowd participation during the event, both on site and virtual, will weigh heavily on the competition. In person attendees have the opportunity to vote once daily for their favorite act performing that day. Online viewers will have the opportunity to vote as well. Online voting will conclude December 1st at 11 p.m. In person and online votes will be tabulated, and the winner will be announced on December 2nd.
The winner will receive an all-expenses paid trip to Legends Music Experience on Necker Island to perform on the main stage in front of very special guests. Although only one band will be able to take part in this amazing experience, winners in other categories will be named as well. These categories include People’s Choice Winner, Acoustic Artist of the Year and Rising Star. Prizes for these additional categories will be announced shortly.
VI Music Prize is free to attend and will take place November 27, 29 & 30 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Maho Crossroads will be open on Thanksgiving as well and will have Thanksgiving lunch available, live music, and free gifts for kids provided by Aqua Helios.