Tropical Storm Bertha: Reader Submitted Videos

As you all know, Tropical Storm Bertha blew through the territory this past week and fortunately there was minimal damage. Today we have two cool reader-submitted videos taken this past Saturday during the height of the storm.

The first is a pretty neat time lapse taken by Jeff Dotson (and you know we love a good time lapse video). Jeff captured the video between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday while he was staying at Gallows Point because well, he said he had a lot of time on his hands. 🙂 Check it out…

The second video was taken by Russ Ballou over in Maria Bluff. Check it out…

Tropical Storm Bertha: Saturday 8 a.m. Update

Cruz Bay, Saturday morning

Here’s the latest on Bertha from the National Hurricane Center as of 8 a.m. Saturday morning:

As of 8 a.m., the storm was moving rapidly toward Puerto Rico and heavy squalls were moving toward the Virgin Islands. Here are the exact figures:

8:00 AM AST Sat Aug 2 Location:

16.7°N 65.5°W

Moving: WNW at 22 mph

Min pressure: 1008 mb

Max sustained: 50 mph

As of 8 a.m., the ports remain closed. Cyril King Airport on St. Thomas remains open, according to the VI Port Authority.

And according to Weather Underground, tropical storm conditions will persist throughout the day with winds between 25 and 35 mph and 100% precipitation. Conditions will lessen this evening a bit with 80% chance of precipitation and winds between 20 and 30 mph.

As always, check out the National Hurricane Center for official information.

If you want to see what’s happening live, click here to view our webcams. 

Tropical Storm Warning: Official Details & Unofficial Ones on Storm Parties


Well folks, it looks like a tropical storm is heading toward St. John. St. John, St. Thomas, St. Croix and Puerto Rico are officially under a tropical storm warning.

So what exactly does that mean? It means that tropical storm conditions are expected to arrive in the territory by Saturday morning. Here’s the official info from VI-Alert:

“At 8 a.m., the center of Tropical Storm Bertha was estimated near latitude 13.6 degrees north, longitude 57.9 degrees west. Bertha is moving toward the west-northwest near 20 miles per hour and this general motion is expected to continue for the next couple of days.

On the forecast track Bertha is expected to pass near or north of Barbados during the next several hours and move through the central Lesser Antilles tonight and into the northeastern Caribbean on Saturday.

Maximum sustained winds remain near 45 miles per hour with higher gusts. No significant change in strength is forecast during the next 48 hours. Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 45 miles from the center.

Tropical storm conditions are expected in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Saturday. Bertha is expected to produce rainfall amounts of 1 to 3 inches with isolated amounts up to 6 inches across portions of the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and the Leeward Islands through Saturday night.”

For those of you on island, you can sign up to receive text message or email alerts at VI-Alert.gov. Here is the direct link to sign up for notifications: https://users.vialert.gov/

So official information aside…

In true St. John fashion, some of our favorite spots are gearing up for the storm in the best way they know how – by planning storm parties!

Woody’s is planning to have a storm party all day Saturday and Sunday with $4 Hurricane Drinks.

Castaway’s is also having a storm party because when it rains, they pour. They’re offering $4 Jameson, 2 for 1 bombs and $2 rum drinks beginning at 9 p.m. Saturday.

The Beach Bar will be having $5 Dark & Stormys all day long.

And in case you missed it in the past, here’s a quick little video courtesy of Captain John Brandi that explains just exactly what one should be doing when it rains on St. John. Check it out, enjoy and stay safe everyone!

Blue Tang: #2 and proud of it!

Longtime readers know that News of St. John began as a not-so-subtle effort to encourage rentals of our home on the island.  There's a lot of competition for rentals and I thought the site would help.  It has. It is the oldest and largest Web site with news about St. John.

Ext_day_pool So it was with surprise and gratitude that, while mousing around TripAdvisor.com the other day, I found that Blue Tang was ranked as the #2 most popular rental on the island, with a 4 1/2 out of 5 stars ranking, too.  Shocked … thankful … happy.

Blue Tang ranked so well because of the reviews people who have stayed at the house were kind enough to post.  A few of their comments:

  • "A peaceful, relaxing, romantic honeymoon at Blue Tang."
  • "Blue Tang rocks."
  • "Best vacation we've ever taken."
  • "Awesome views and location."

I have to admit that each time we visit Blue Tang and read through the Guest Books, we are often moved to tears at the kind things people say about the house as they recount the wonderful time they had on the island and at our place.

If you're headed for St. John, I hope you'll consider our home, too.

Frank Barnako, aka The Inquiring Iguana

Cafe Bordeaux back in business

Bordeaux Chateau Bordeaux has been reopened.  Once again, it is possible to have a meal and look down on Coral Bay and across the Sir Francis Drake Channel, one of the loveliest views on the island.

Lorelei Monsanto, the daughter of the woman who launched the restaurant 30 years ago, is overseeing the venture.  She's also reported to be the landlord.  For many years, Bordeaux was managed by the same people who operated high end restaurants in Cruz Bay including Paradiso and Asolare.  But times got tough, the economy got soft, and Bordeaux closed.

Monsanto's reopened the spot for lunch and has plans to add dinner service.  But food isn't the only reason to make the drive to Bordeaux.  She told the St John Sun Times, "Enjoy the moon as it's rising, the shimmering lights in the distance – it makes you feel like you're on a tropical island, naturally."

Perhaps it's best that food isn't the only draw.  One lone review, via TripAdvisor, was quite negative. "The view remains exceptional but the food is now by many accounts INEDIBLE." wrote EvergreenOhio. "Prices are inflated and there is no wine list."

How much could you grab at Starfish?

Bob As part of the celebration to mark completion of the renovation at StarfishMarket, the store offered one lucky winner the chance for a one-minute long Supermarket Spree.  Take what you can get, no cost. Bob Schlesinger, one of the island's fine photographers, was the lucky guy.

As luck would have, Bob's wife, Karin, is also pretty handy with a camera.  She works with Bob in their business, Tropical Focus

She clicked away as Bob eagerly filled the basket.  There appeared to be no focus on grabbing the high-value items, but rather the necessities.  Looks like there's a ham or a turkey, bread, some hamburger, apples, etc.  But, according to Karin, the most prized acquisition was some of his favorite java, Dunkin' Donuts.

Tap Room adds pizza, expands draft offerings

HolidayCard Things just keep hopping for St. John Brewers

Kevin Chipman and 'Cheech' Vyas have just expanded their Tap Room business located on the second floor at Mongoose Junction.  They now offer 16 beers on draft. Several are their own brews, including the newest beer, launched last month, Island Hoppin' India Pale Ale.  But wait, there's more.  There's food now, too.  They've added a kitchen so they now offer 'pub' good including pizzas and beer pretzels.

The brew boys told the Virgin islands Daily News theirs is the largest selection of beers on draft in the Caribbean.  In the article published Thursday, Chipman and Vyas tell the story of how they arrived on island in 2001, thinking they'd only stay for a while.  Then they got thirsty researched how to brew beer, and the rest is history.

First Look: New restaurant in Cruz Bay

Stoneterrace There's new life in an old restaurant in Cruz Bay.  The beautiful Stone Terrace space has been transformed into Cactus on the Blue, a Mexican restaurant with lots of energy, taste, and color. 

Nile and Courtney Wright leased the space after it had been dark for at least a year.  Before that, it had been for sale for months.  Stone Terrace, a high-end restaurant, was a victim of a softening economy and a trend that is seeing villa renters stay at home as they refuse to fight for downtown parking and save money.

While the Wrights are out in the front of the house, Nile certainly knows his way around a kitchen. According to a story in the St. John Sun Times, he earned his whisks the old fashioned way.  At home, in his family's restaurant, Jacala, the oldest eatery in San Antonio.

There's a Texas connection between the Wrights and their own chef, Gabriel Orozco.  His experience includes work as chef at the Balcony at Wharfside and his most recent position, sous chef at a steak house in San Antonio.

The Sun Times says Cactus on the Blue doesn't aspire to be the cheapest place in town or the most expensive. "A happy medium" is the target, Wright told the newspaper.  That means large portions at reasonable prices.

According to powerboat charter Capt. Josh of Lion in da Sun "reasonable prices" means low.  He posted a review of his visit to the restaurant on Trip Advisor and said the food
was wonderful.  His friends' dinner was also great, "and the portions
were enormous."  He said the appetizer sampler had four types of salsa and the chips were cut and baked at the restaurant. He wrote. "And here is the kicker $5!!!! Enough said, get it – get two."

The Wrights are not only starting a business, they're also starting a life together.  They're newlyweds of about eight months.  And so far, things seem to be going well.Their restaurant just got a telephone line this week, and any local can tell you how tough that can be to do.  The number is 340-693-8515.

CZM blocks Pond Bay permit transfer

The bank that helped finance construction of the Pond Bay Club at Chocolate Hole was rebuffed by the Coastal Zone Management agency in its effort to assume the permit for the resort.  The St. John Source reported CZM unanimously rejected the application by WestLB AG.

According to CZM, only the developer can request a transfer.  And Bob Emmett's First American Development, which has been trying to build Pond Bay for more than a decade is having none of that idea. FirstAmerican owes millions to the bank and to many local contractors, too.

Emmet said the project is about 65 percent complete, the Source reported.

StJohnJulie posted at Virgin-islands-On-Line that, "The only people working at Pond Bay right now are security guards. The people of Pond Bay are still confident that they will get the funds they need to complete the project, but I am not as sure it will happen the way they want it to."  She explained she also has a personal interest in the Club.""I also don't want this project to sit uncompleted… My husband is one of the subcontractors who works on the project so I should know w, 

More video tours by Chase and Maria