Can’t find a bathing suit?

The Inquiring Iguana spends too much of his life on the Internet, surfing various forums where island visitors are eager to get the inside story on what’s happening here and how to enjoy St. John.  Here’s some of what he’s been overhearing recently.

A day on the water is as close to heaven as some people can get, and any number of island Captains are offering their boats for charter.  The Internet forums are a way people trade recommendations and trip reports.

In one thread, Capt. Phil Chalker and his Wayward Sailor came in for some comment. “Xraymaker” complained, "I called Captain Phil and explained to him that we did not have our swimsuits (very limited sizes of bathing suits on St. John) and we could not go on the trip."

Read moreCan’t find a bathing suit?

New Park Superintendent named

It’s taken 10 months, but the National Park service has found it’s man. Mark Hardgrove is currently a deputy superintendent at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore in South North Carolina, according to the St. John Source.  He’s been with the NPS at least 21 years. 

Hardgrove has a lot more than flora and fauna to worry about on island.  The Park could be directed by Congress to lease land to the VI government for construction of a new school, and At Large Senator Carmen Wesselhoft wants the Service to donate several hundred acres for locals’ housing.

Hardhrove is expected to begin his duties on island by the end of the month.

New (used) ferries on the way

New ferry boats come soon is what the VI Government wants us to believe – as soon as St. John’s ferry operators complete the paperwork.  (I believe the Virgin Islands government is still waiting for reports on how much money the ferries collected and spent last year.)

Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls told a Senate Finance Committee hearing his department has snagged $1.5 million in Federal Highway Administration (FHW) funds to allow Varlack Ventures and Transportation Services of St. John to purchase used ferry boats, the Virgin Islands Daily News reported.  Smalls said his agency will also go after any ferry money that may be available from the feds this year, too.

Read moreNew (used) ferries on the way

St. John Magazine plans debut

Here’s more evidence how the island is moving upscale in its attraction for the wealthy vacationer. 

St. John is going to get a new magazine, but it’s not for locals. 
St. John Magazine will be published twice a year, according to its publisher, Malinda Nelson.  She is also Publisher of the St. John Tradewinds, a local newspaper. 

The magazine will be "designed to be a treasured keepsake," according to promotional material for the venture available online at www.stjohnmagazine.com.
The media kit for advertisers said St. John Magazine will not be free, but will be sold on newsstands throughout the U.S. and British Virgin Islands.  Quantities of the magazine are also expected to be sold resorts and villa management companies on island.

Read moreSt. John Magazine plans debut

How do you cure a hangover?

The Inquiring Iguana
 spends too much of his life on the Internet, surfing various forums where island visitors are eager to get the inside story on what’s happening here and how to enjoy St. John.  Here’s some of what he’s been overhearing recently.

            For some reason, people think they might drink too much when they get to the Virgin Islands and St. John.  "Sometimes we humans fail to always live by the rules," wrote "Cypressgirl" on Virgin-Islands-On-Line.  "Any ideas for cures?"

            "Chrisn" said he’s found a greasy cheeseburger helps a little.  “VaGirl” chimed in saying she puts a Coke, in a glass bottle, in the freezer until it’s full of little ice chips.  Then she drinks it with three Hershey’s Kisses. "It works I promise."

            "Ksea" is more pro-active.  "I always eat bread before I start to drink and automatically take four aspirin/Bufferin before I fall into, or over, the bed."

Read moreHow do you cure a hangover?

Is a cheaper car rental a bargain?

You can rent a car for a week for as little as $31, if you book it online. I didn’t know this until I read it on the Cruz Bay Forum at TripAdvisor.com.  The going rental rate for a car on St. John is $60/day.

The discount is from Priceline.com. Thrifty is offering deals ranging from Carrental$254/week for an economy car, including taxes and fees, up to $270/week for a full size vehicle.  Of course, you also have to add
the cost of a car barge round trip from Red Hook to Cruz Bay.  But then, you’re not paying for a taxi and luggage to and from the airport, and that just about makes up the barge fee.  It may even be cheaper if you’ve got four people.  (Click on the photo at right for a bigger picture of the rates.)

Read moreIs a cheaper car rental a bargain?

Where’s the money?

Rick Bates, a reader who operates an educational consulting firm, posted a comment on the post about finding land for a new school.  He inquired about its expected cost and source of funding.

I smiled and replied:

"Dear Rick:

"The cost of a school has not even been mentioned. Unless there are federal funds, I can’t imagine where the money going to come from.

"But here’s something that will spur THAT discussion.

Read moreWhere’s the money?

Where could a new school be built?

More than 100 people attended a Congressional subcommittee hearing on St. John on where a new kindergarten-12th grade school might be built. 

V.I. Delegate Donna Christensen, who sits on the House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, convened the hearing to discuss her proposal to authorize the Dept. of the Interior to lease V.I. National Park land for the project.  (H.R. 53)

A representative of the V.I. Education Department said it would like to have 10 acres to build a campus including classrooms, cafeteria, gymnasium and auditorium, according to a report of the meeting in the Virgin Islands Daily News.  A member of a group called One Campus testified saying it preferred 55 acres.

Read moreWhere could a new school be built?

Pond Bay Club ready to go

After years of preparation, permitting, arguments and public hearings, developers of the swanky Pond Bay Club project at Chocolate Hole have gotten some heavy lifting done. 

Land clearing has been underway, silt fences have been installed, and construction could begin by fall.

FOLIO has launched a Web site for Pond Bay.  It includes a site plan and artist renderings of units.

There will be several dozen units, including three- and four-bedroom villas and cottages. The Club will be part of the Folio Collection, a of "destination club" real estate venture. The New York Times published a story Sunday about destination clubs.  Read it here.

The Helium Report says one-ninth interests in Pod Bay will start at $325,000 and guarantee buyers’ access for 35 days a year.  Annual maintenance fees will begin at $10,000.

"Pond Bay Club is planned to be a private enclave of spacious villas and cottages with the amenities of a spa, swimming pools, restaurant, beach club and clubhouse. Located in Chocolate Hole, on perhaps the last great beachfront development parcel in St. John," explains an information page on the Web site of Holiday Homes.

St. Thomas airport air conditioning broken

It’s been so hot inside the Cyril E. King airport’s waiting room that the candy bars are melting. 

The federal baggage scanners are talking about walking out because it’s so hot.

At least one airline is asking the VI Port Authority for a rent rebate because the facility is so uncomfortable. 

The airport’s a. c. has been out of order for several days, with the Virgin Islands Daily News quoting a Port Authority spokesperson saying he is unsure when it will be repaired.  "The staff and management … apologized for the inconvenience," the Authority said in a statement, the News added.  Read the Daily News story here.

Now, try and find that news release on the Authority’s Web site, http://www.viport.com/.  Not there.  In fact, no news announcements have been posted this year!  And when you click on a link to the Authority’s "Newsletter," it takes you to a September, 2005 document – apparently the first and only newsletter.  (Wanna guess whether the Port Authority’s budget has an allocation for ‘Newsletter’?  Wanna guess what’s happened to the money?) 

Are these people on the ball?  Think they’ll be in a rush to fix the air conditioning in a public building dedicated to the island’s only industry, tourism?

Meanwhile, back at the airport, it’s still hot, hot, hot.  On the first floor, with its open air ticket counters, inside in the Customs clearance area, and even more so back in the holding pens (where travelers wait – and where it’s usually so cold you wish you’d put your long pants on). 

The airport staffers are blaming the Water and Power Authority for power surges which caused the a.c. chillers to shut down; WAPA says, "Uh, uh, it wasn’t us."

The Daily News
says the Authority estimates it could be eight weeks before the air conditioning is working again.