Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Why Do I Live Here Again?

As if the VI Beer Club sunset sail wasn't enough, last Sunday's trip over to Jost Van Dyke, BVI was another reason I live here.  With a short 30 minute boat ride over to customs, check in and then over to White Bay!

Ivan's Bar was filled with large boats from Puerto Rico, so we headed over to Soggy Dollar Bar. 

Lunch of Wahoo Quesadilla's at One Love. 

A visit to see Mic at Soggy Dollar Bar for some painkillers and catch up on the gossip. 

Float around....

And then it is time to say, "Adios to Jost".

I can see why Kenny Chesney wrote a song like When  I See This Bar, there is nothing like Jost! Should I go again this Saturday?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Virgin Islands Beer Club Sushi Sunset Cruise!

Last Saturday evening we went out with some friends on the VI Beer Clubs' Beer and Sushi sunset cruise.

At first it was looking like we weren't going to have any sunset to look at with cloudy skies. I guess some people opted out of going because of this?

We left Yacht Haven around five and did a tour around Charlotte Amalie Harbor and around Water Island. The sailboat even put up its sails!

We were served some delicious sushi made by the chef from Enkai that was paired with craft beers from Japan and some US craft beers.

It was a pleasant evening for sure!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Happy Friday!

I am going to try and do a happy Friday post each Friday with what is going on for the upcoming week or weekend and if nothing is going on, some random photos of the Virgin Islands?

Saturday Night is the VI Beer Club's sunset catamaran beer and sushi cruise!

Sunday is the Chaotic Kayak Races on St John!

Have a great weekend! 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

BVI Departure Fees to Increase in August and Swim Area on Jost Van Dyke?

Yes, you heard this right, the British Virgin Islands is raising their departure tax from $5 to $20 for non-residents, and this includes ferry, charters and private boats. This new fee begins on August 1, 2013.

Here is the story.

Maybe yet another reason to just stay in US waters?

What I find amazing is that the US does not charge anything for customs? I mean really, if the BVI is going to charge $20 a person then why don't we charge a BVI resident $20 for departure tax out of our country? I guess our government has no economic issues?

I also heard a rumor over the weekend that they were going to be installing a swim area on White Bay (Soggy Dollar Bar) so that the boats cannot park on the beach anymore? The reason Soggy Dollar Bar is called Soggy Dollar was because you had to swim to shore and your dollars got wet. I guess they don't want the boats at their beach anymore?

The reason why most USVI residents and tourists go over to Jost is because you can pull right up to the beach.  You see the USVI does not like boaters as there is really no where on the islands of St Thomas or St John where you can pull up to the beach, well two exceptions I know of, Honeymoon Beach on Water Island and Cruz Bay in St John.

Could this be the end to White Bay on Jost as we know it?  Has anyone else heard of this rumor?

Update 7-29-13 : Confirmed with BVI Customs yesterday, this will not affect private boats, only charters and ferries.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Weekend Trip to St Croix

Back in February we were at the Humane Society's annual ball. I bid on a silent auction, round trip airfare and two nights lodging in St. Croix. I was the lucky winner!

St Croix, our neighbor to the south seems to be isolated from the rest of the Virgin Islands. It is about 35 miles to the south and there are no ferries that run to St Croix (the last one running was the SS. Miss Belmar, my first fishing trip in NJ, but rode aground on a reef). The only real transportation is a sea plane ride.

I went for a boys weekend with a friend of mine that I went to college with at the University of Colorado at Boulder. 

We left on a Friday afternoon. Off to the seaplane port near the post office in Frenchtown. Checked in for our flight and upstairs we went to the Petite Pump Room bar that is upstairs in the ferry terminal that is next to the seaplane port. I have always drove by seeing that there was a bar there, but never realized that it was so big and had a nice balcony overlooking the Charlotte Amalie Harbor. They also had a nice menu. 

Had a cold beer and now time to go get on the seaplane. The plane is operated by Seaborne Airlines a local airline that provides service from STT and STX via seaplane using DeHavilland DH-6 Twin Otter seaplanes. They also provide other flights that are land based and just bought a bunch of new Saab 340-B twin turbo planes to provide service that American Eagle left behind.

They have an interesting way of boarding. There is no TSA or security checks, which in this day and age of air travel is such a welcome relief. They have you all line up by a gate and they take your boarding pass. You then go and sit in a tent and wait again for a call to board. And just in case you are confused, there is one dock to load, but they do have a sign for you that points out their one and only gate. This is good as there is not a gate 2 or 3 for that matter...

The plane seats 17 passengers with a tight fit and no A/C, that is until you get up to 2000 ft.

It is a short 20 minute flight and we were cruising along at 99 knots.

We landed in Christiansted which is where is hotel was. Christiansted has a boardwalk along their water front with different bars and restaurants. So we walked over to our hotel.

We checked into our hotel which was a bit of a disappointment, it was not a very nice place but since they did donate to charity, I will not mention their name. We were hot and thirsty, so what better way to start your vacation off but by going to the Christiansted Brewery. They had 5 beers on tap and I had to try them all but the Hefe. We do not have a microbrewery in St Thomas so this was a treat for me! The brew master is from Boulder and he got his start at the old Oasis Brewery in Boulder, CO back in the day, a brewery both my friend and I used to frequent. The brewery equipment is actually owned by a person from Boulder.

After having some beers, we took a short walk around Christiansted, and there was nothing open at 5 PM? Kind of eerie.....

We made our way over to Rum Runners for a couple of drinks. Most of the people we met were very friendly and it definitely had a small town vibe to it.

Time for dinner, off to Galangal Thai, yet another treat as we do not have Thai food in St Thomas.

We went back to the boardwalk after dinner at about 10 PM and the town had rolled up for the night except for the brewery, there were still a few left there.

Good morning St Croix, off to the rental car.  There is an Avis at the seaplane port. We got a our car and off to driving tour of St Coix.

First off, you can go 60 mph on a four lane highway, something I haven't done in sometime. Our first stop was the Hovensa Oil Refinery. This was once the largest refinery in the Caribbean and was owned as joint effort between Hess and Venezuela. When it was in operation in employed 2000 people, but in January of 2012 they announced they were going to be closing in a month as the refinery was not profitable. It is now all shuttered and the VI government is trying to make Hovensa sell it, whether or not that happens remains to be seen as it needs some major refurbishment.

Here is the Captain Morgan Rum distilary, this is a new facility and they recently moved over from Puerto Rico.

And the Cruzan Rum Distillery, ah yes our beloved rum.

On our way to the rain forest and the beer drinking pigs.

My friend went first and that was fun, now my turn, they suggested I give a beer to this little piggy. 

Um yea, there must be a reason why they have you shake the beer?  Not quite the shower I was envisioning.

Next destination, Frederiksted. This is the other city on the island and where the cruise ship dock is. Many say it is dangerous? I thought it to be more of a ghost town?

After a drive through the abandoned city it was off to Rainbow Beach. This beach was my favorite.

Again no one here?

Now back through the rain forest and off to the North Side.

Finally arriving at Cane Garden Bay and lunch at Eat @ Cane Bay

Nice restaurant there, but the beach was too rocky for me and right next to the road.

Now to another bar, Off the Wall.

Back to Christiansted, grabbed some dinner at Rum Runners which was average at best and back to the room to pass out. The next morning was off to see the east side of St Croix which was breathe taking. Once again there was no one around. I think we may have passed two other cars on our loop of the east end.

And a drive back to the north side for brunch a Eat @ Cane Bay. I got an awesome Mexican egg bake, only suggestion, serve it with some corn tortillas?

Off to the seaplane port and back to St Thomas.

This was at the Avis office outside, if you ever need an exterior outlet, here is a great fix? I did run back to the brewery for a red ale to go!

St Coix was a great place, wide open spaces, nice beaches, friendly people, slow pace and big as to compared to STT and STJ. It was creepy though on how empty the place felt, like a gold mine town where the gold dried up or a mid-west town where they relied on one tire manufacturing facility? I think they put all their eggs in one basket with regards to the refinery and never worried about going after tourism there, which is a real shame as it is one beautiful island! Thanks to all the friendly Cruzans we met! We will be back again!