Thursday, June 14, 2012

Seaborne Airlines

Sometimes, trying to plan transportation between all the various Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico can be challenging. There are regular ferries between the USVI and the BVI, but sometimes coordinating ferry schedules to get from Tortola to St. Croix, for example, can be a bit challenging. What is an adventurous island-hopper to do? 

Take the sea plane! Seaborne Airlines operates between St. Thomas, St. Croix, Puerto Rico and Vieques, and is talking about expanding service to Tortola (hopefully soon!). In St. Thomas, planes depart from Seaborne's air terminal, just next door to the Charlotte Amalie ferry terminal, making it a convenient option for folks traveling from Tortola to St. Croix. 

HB has been dying to try the seaplane since we moved to the BVI. I'm a little nervous, myself, as these 20-passenger Twin Otters are awfully small, but the idea of only a 20-minute ride to St. Croix is encouraging.

But if you're looking for a slightly adventurous, definitely Caribbean experience while you're in the Virgin Islands, you might give Seaborne a try. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Last night, HB and I decided to indulge in a sunset swim at Brewer's Bay. When we arrived, the pelicans were fishing as usual, and we noticed a fair number of yellowtail snapper jumping, eating the bugs that were skimming the surface of the lake-calm water.

So we waded in and floated around and chatted and didn't really actually swim much. The fish jumping started to become more frequent, and soon the snapper were daring to come much closer to our mostly inert bodies. I was startled a time or two as they broke the surface within inches of my head.  

It was a lovely, relaxing swim, until one of the lovely yellowtail snapper chomped down on HB's nipple.

Up and out of the water he went, bleeding nipple and all, and I couldn't stop laughing. Ultimately, I think HB's pride is more hurt than his nipple.

For my part, I'm just thankful I had a swimsuit top.

Saturday, June 9, 2012


June is the time for Flamboyants to bloom in the BVI, and these near Ballast Bay are really giving their all.

Called Royal Poincianas in Florida, I much prefer the name "Flamboyant", which is the only one most of the residents here know.

And since they've moved back up into the mountains for the summer, from wherever it is they're kept in the winter, a gratuitous roadcow picture to take you in to your weekend.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Growing Things

I know I just wrote about my seedlings a few days ago, but I am so excited at all the little sprouts HB and I have managed to raise in less than two weeks.

HB's peppers are really starting to get sizeable -- about three inches high, which is huge compared to my thyme and basil sprouts. My cilantro is starting to put on some height, too, though. HB planted nine varieties of peppers, and so far eight of them have sprouted. Still waiting on the Butch T's, which are, of course, the ones HB most wanted to see.

Here's a look at the whole operation. I have no idea how we're going to find space for all these plants once we transplant into larger pots, but we'll figure something out.

Almost as exciting as our seedlings is what appears to be an actual dragonfruit growing on the dragonfruit tree. This was the last of the four blossoms to open, and magically, it appears to have actually been pollinated. Will definitely be keeping an eye on this over coming weeks.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Dear May

To the month of May:

I'm sorry. I have maligned you in print several times, and verbally many more times than that, and I apologize.

Last year, you were an awful month. It rained for almost your entire stay here in the BVI, and I probably was experiencing more than my fair share of homesickness, so I looked on your soggy, dreary existence as further proof why the BVI was perhaps, not the right place for me. It didn't help that the tick epidemic began in you, and was perpetuated by the moisture you brought.

But this year, you have been a kindler, gentler May. We had a few foggy days, and you still managed to drop 9 inches of rain on us, but overall, it has been much more pleasant. You seem to have shared your attitude with these first few days of June, too. In fact, HB and I can't even remember the last time it rained.

So, I am very sorry if my words here have made you disliked amongst residents and visitors to the BVI. You have shown us that you are not always a bad time, that sometimes you can keep us happy with plenty of sun and only occasional showers. I hope our relationship can continue along this improved path.

Yours Sincerely,

Basset's View of the Islands

Friday, June 1, 2012

Trying to Reason

Happy Hurricane Season 2012 everyone! Today, June 1, marks the official start of the Atlantic Hurricane season, but as you probably know, the unofficial start this year was on the 19th of May, when Tropical Storm Alberto developed off the coast of the Carolinas to become the first named storm of the year. With the subsequent development of Tropical Storm Beryl a few days later, 2012 became the first year since 1908 to have two named storms before the official June 1 start of hurricane season.

Despite all the early-season activity, NOAA is predicting an average season this year. What does this mean for hurricanes in the BVI? Not much. It only takes one head-on hit to make it a devastating hurricane season for the BVI, and that can occur even in a slow hurricane year. So if you're a newbie here wondering what to expect, or planning on travelling to the area, here's what you need to know.

The absolute worst weeks for hurricanes in the BVI are the last week of August and the first two weeks of September. Something like 75% of all storms that have hit or brushed the BVI have occurred in this narrow window. That doesn't mean you shouldn't be prepared at all other times, but maybe you might want to avoid travelling here during those weeks.

Overall, the BVI is a pretty safe place to be during a hurricane. The buildings are extremely sturdy, built to withstand not just hurricanes but earthquakes. There's little risk of storm surge, due to the deep waters surrounding the island, but even so, it's best not to remain in coastal areas if avoidable. Most buildings have storm shutters, which help keep the worst effects of the winds at bay. The government shuts off the electricity, so there is no chance of electrocution from downed wires -- an inconvenience if you don't have a generator, but ultimately a pretty smart safety precaution. Heavy rains flooding your residence or landslides should be your biggest concerns during a storm. Stay high and dry.

Perhaps the most important measure to take if you're in the BVI during hurricane season is to stay informed. Know what's brewing out there in the Atlantic and in the Gulf, and if it looks like something is coming our way, take preparations. My preferred source of information is Weather Underground's tropical weather page, but for the most up-to-date details, it's hard to beat NOAA's Hurricane Center. Take note, though, that many sources of weather news are US-based, and will only discuss storms that are threatening to US landmasses. Our proximity to Puerto Rico keeps this info relevant, but sometimes there will be a hurricane or storm that's not reported on until it's very close, as was the case with Earl two years ago.

All in all, despite the hurricanes, summer is my favorite time in the BVI, so if you're here with me, I hope you enjoy it too!

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