Hello everyone and happy Friday! For those of you who have been on St.John recently and have ventured out east, you may have noticed that there are still several dozen damaged boats over in Hurricane Hole. The Virgin Islands National Park held a meeting at Skinny’s Thursday night, and gave the latest details with regard to the removal of these vessels. We were unable to personally attend the meeting, but Captain Colin Hanson, owner of Flyaway Charters, was there, and he gave us the scoop.
A little background… Hurricane Hole is located east of Coral Bay and is comprised of four different areas: Borck Creek, Otter Creek, Water Creek and Princess Bay. Historically, Hurricane Hole has been the safest place to store a vessel during a storm. Hurricane Hole has a storm refuge system, a large, submerged chain on the ocean floor designed for berthing by vessels up to 60 feet in length. As we all know by now, Hurricane Irma was so strong that many of the vessels in Hurricane Hole were damaged or destroyed. And unlike the beached and damaged boats in Cruz Bay, Great Cruz Bay and Coral Bay which were removed over the past few months, the damaged and destroyed vessels in Hurricane Hole remain there today.
So you may be wondering why? Well because Hurricane Hole is located within the Virgin Islands National Park, there are different rules for removal and the cost of the removal falls under a different budget. According to last night’s meeting, the VI National Park was unable to get funds to remove the vessels due to the Stafford Act. This prevented FEMA from giving any other agency money to remove the vessels.
The good news is the VI National Park recently received funding to finally remove these vessels. According to Captain Colin, the Navy will be in charge of removing all of the remaining vessels located within Hurricane Hole and the Virgin Islands National Park, although it is uncertain whether they will do it themselves or hire a contractor. Members of the Navy are expected to arrive on island the second week of April to assess the situation.
The VI National Park hopes that all of the vessels will be removed by the start of hurricane season, which is June 1st. Only time will tell…
The Park also stated that the underwater chain has been inspected and deemed safe.
If you are a boat owner who had a spot in Hurricane Hole but lost your boat during the hurricanes, you can retain the spot in the event that you purchase a new boat. You just need to inform the Park. Also, if you purchase a boat that has a spot in Hurricane Hole, that spot is transferrable. But once again, you need to notify the Park. Boat owners who’d like to be part of the lottery for open berths must register by June 2.
I’m happy to hear that there is finally a plan in place to remove these boats. We will keep you posted on the progress out there. And again, a HUGE thanks to Captain Colin of Flyaway Charters for sending us all of the details from the meeting!!