A visitors & sailors magazine about the islands of the Eastern Caribbean • Vol.4 No.2
USVI, St. Thomas Yacht Haven Grande The Ultimate in Luxury Marinas.
BVI, Anegada Life’s a Beach.
St. Maarten The Simpson Bay Strip. Funky & fun with restaurants galore.
THE GRENADINES Bequia Moonhole. A story about modern day cliff dewllers
Excepts from the book, “The S Last Days of St. Pierre” CARIBBEAN LANDFALL How a volcanic eruption wiped out a city of 30,000 in minutes
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From the Editor
n our last issue I wrote about the unprecedented tourist development in the Caribbean. Well it’s still growing. Just about every month I get a press release of another big tourist development. Some see this building boom as too much too fast. Others see it as a savior to the troubled economic problems the small eastern Caribbean islands have always struggled with. The big trend in development now is high end luxury resorts offering mega yacht marinas along with luxury 5 star styled hotels. St. Kitts has announced just such a project. The reason for this is the Caribbean is the winter destination of choice for big yachts which have increased in their numbers 52% in just 4 years. New marina construction is underway from the Virgin Islands to Grenada. This big boat marina building boom in several islands is more than just docks for big yachts they are also high end luxury shopping, dining and entertainment places open to island tourists and residents. Economically strapped Grenada devastated a few years back by Hurricane Ivan believe now good times have come. Foreign investors are fueling several large tourist developments. But one has become controversial. The Grenada government last year passed an amendment allowing the sale of national park land
to foreign developers. The Four Seasons Resort has started construction on the Mount Hartman Estate National Park. This Sanctuary was created 10 years ago to protect the Grenada Dove– the country’s national bird! “Is nothing sacred?” said Dr. George Wallace of the American Bird Conservancy “Selling off a national park is outrageous and not an option Grenada should be considering.” To date the fate of these 150 fragile doves left in the world have yet to be resolved. Recently National Geographic Traveler rated 111 island destinations in the world. In the Eastern Caribbean region Dominica scored highest. The lowest score went to St. Thomas. Island destinations that were highly desirable many years ago today rate the lowest scores. This paradox seems to continue as we humans end up wrecking the beautiful islands that we first discovered a few decades back. Our efforts to enhance island destinations has often destroyed the charm that attracted us in the first place. As our world population grows along with more affluence, popular island destinations will be stressed. Governments, investors and developers need to listen to their critics, to insure controlled sustainable tourism growth is achieved. Increased tourist arrivals are inevitable. island nations in the Caribbean should
Published by IVY Communications 750 CR 346 Rifle, Colorado 81650 USA
Executive Publisher Kathryn Seri Erickson
Editor in Chief Russ Tatham firstname.lastname@example.org
Copy Editor Beryl Yates
Production Manager Patrisha Stubblefield
Caribbean Regional Sales Sales & Marketing Russ Tatham email@example.com Caribbean Landfalls is distributed free of charge throughout the major tourist islands of the Eastern Caribbean. All rights reserved©. No part of this publication may be reproduced unless written consent is given by IVY Communications. Every effort for accuracy of the contents of this magazine has been made, however, the publisher and editor do not accept responsibility for the views and opinions of contributors.
Cover Photos: Top Nevis, bottom Gun Point, Carriacou
be careful in evaluating development proposals, not only for the sake of local income gains but for sensible environment protection. Tourist development done right in the end will attract a higher quality of tourist that is appreciative of an island that sustains it’s natural beauty and local culture. Russ Tatham
The Big Boat Marina Boom
Vol.4 No. 2
Big yachts 100 to 500 feet and growing have increased by 52% in five years.The Caribbean is their winter playground. A new style of marina for them is emerging as a result.
The Last Days of St. Pierre. Excepts from Ernest Zebroski’s book. In Martinique the city of St. Pierre was wiped out in a few minutes in 1902. 30,000 people perished
Anegada: Life is a beach.
Miles of beaches.The outermost island in the BVI, very differnent from the others. See why.
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Moonhole.This is a story of an American advertising executive who dropped out, then built a collection of cave like dewelings the world has never known before.
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he Virgin Islands Charter League is a non proﬁt professional association representing charter yachts. For 33 years the VICL has been the driving force behind the Caribbean crewed charter Industry. Our board of directors and all our members are all actively involved in crewed charter yachting in the Virgin Islands. When you choose a VICL yacht to charter you can be assured a VICL member boat maintains the highest standards. With four decades of knowledge our quality of service and safety record is proof you’ll have a fabulous charter yachting vacation. Contact your charter broker about booking a VICL member yacht.
Attention! Charter yacht owners and captains. Find out all the advantages the VICL can offer you. Tel: 340.774.5630 www.vicl.org
S/V BLU MOON is a 51’ sloop designed with two ‘master’ suites. She can accomadate four guests in comfort. Captain Chris Bennett loves sailing and teaching guests the basics of helmsmanship. Chef/First Mate Julie Bennett puts her culinary talents to work in a variety of ways from the exotic to nouvelle cuisine, as well as good old-fashioned American dishes. Chris and Julie are fun to be with and will find special spots for guests can explore.
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M/Y RUNAWAY Run away in luxury and comfort aboard this 79 foot ‘AZIMUT with a top speed of 22 knots. Runaway’s three well-appointed luxury staterooms will cradle you in comfort. All staterooms have ensuite head with enclosed shower stall, flat screen television with dvd/ cd/mp3 player and individual climate controls. Runaway’s crew can take you on a variety of adventures on land and under the sea throughout all the Virgin islands.
S/Y ANTIQUITY Captain David DeCuir is originally from New Orleans, Louisiana. He has sailed the Caribbean, searching out
S/V PALM COASTER
“VICL yachts are too Cool !”
ancient ruins, magical rain forests, and studying Caribbean
This 41 foot luxury catamaran has two
Claudia Borowski also prepares healthy meals according to
history. David also cooks fabulous original Cajun food. Chef
comfortable guest staterooms. Captain Peter Stevens has chartered
the guest needs and desires. Antiquity is a comfortable 41
in the Caribbean over 16 years. With a “yes we can” attitude Peter
foot Morgan ketch and David Decuir has thrilled his guests
makes all the difference for a fabulous layed back charter vacation.
with fascinating adventures for 26 years.
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f all the islands in the BVI, Anegada is strikingly different from the rest. It’s also the furthest out, 12 miles north of Virgin Gorda. Anegada is an atoll 11 miles long with a reef extending out 10 miles to its southeast. With a population of about 200 people today it’s considered the “boondocks” by many. In the past, Anegada had a population of over 500. This low, (28 feet being the highest elevation) scrubby, dry island happens to have what most tourists dream about: miles and miles of pristine, ﬁ ne white
Inside the reefs are fun to explore in a dinghy. Just anchor your dinghy in sandy spot and snorkel around a few coral heads, the marine life is plentiful. To venture out to see the rest of the island, car rentals and shuttle buses are available. I decided a scooter was my vehicle of choice. Lorraine at the Reef Hotel sent me to the grocery store next to the Hotel to rent a scooter. Forty dollars a day including gas got me a yellow Honda fully automatic scoot! I was now set to explore off the beaten track. I was off at 9:00 AM, heading west on the main road
toward the Settlement, no cars, trucks or buses in sight for an hour! With a land map I found on the internet I decided I was going to circumnavigate the island using all the little tracks off the main drag. South of the Settlement, I found the fishermen’s port. Small boats moored among green mangroves. Lots of old cedar shingled houses were scattered about the area, most boarded up with their owners living somewhere else. Heading northeast, the cement road gave way to a sandy washboard road just past the air strip. This lead me to Table Bay
With a local population of less than 200 this atoll 11 miles long and three miles wide could sustain itself with the rich marine life alone. Horse Shoe Reef extends out 10 miles and is one of the largest in the world. sand beaches. Most visitors are charter boaters these days. Their stay is usually overnight, then they’re off out into the blue by mid-morning. Land visitors are far fewer but are a dedicated lot, with many returning throughout the years. For them Anegada is the ultimate get away from it all kind of place. There are 10 places to stay on the island. A selection of cottages, hotels and villas of which most are widely scattered around the 17 miles of beaches. The main town is called the Settlement, which mainly caters to the needs of the local population. No tourist bars, restaurants or trendy shops are found in the Settlement. Setting Point is the visitors hub on the island. For those arriving by yacht, several moorings are available and for those who wish to anchor there’s space in the back, western part of the anchorage. 8 CARIBBEAN LANDFALLS
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The main anchorage off Setting Point is where most of charter boats go.
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LIFEâ€™S A BEACH.......MILES OF THEM. and the Flash of Beauty beach restaurant on the north coast. The beach is protected by the barrier reef. Only a few people were on the beach. It was too early for lunch so I was off on my trusy scooter to go off the beaten track. Exploring the back trails. All paths lead to a beach, and most had no people to be seen on them.
Lavenda Breeze Villa, perhaps the ultimate get a way from it all.
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etting Point’s quiet waterfront restaurants are deluged with an invasion of inflatable dinghies loaded with charter boaters hungry for the catch of the day. Lobster, lobster and more lobsters is what they want. The surrounding reefs supply hungry tourists with Anegata’s fresh from the sea crustaceans. About 7:30 in the evening, Four waterfront venues are full up by sundown. They are (Neptune’s Treasure, The Lobster Trap, The Reef Hotel, and Potter’s by the Sea).
Wilford Creaque has been serving fresh lobsters to hungry sailors for 20 years.
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Late in the afternoon as I watched Lester Potter skillfully wheeling his machete in the process of preparing lobsters for barbecuing. He said “At times the lobsters are harder to get.” What he meant was they have to go out further within Anegada’s huge Horseshoe Reef to get them. The reef is vast and alive with sea life. The reef is also well known for sinking ships. More than 200 documented wrecks are scattered throughout the reef.
Oil drum barbeques ﬁres signal the boats it’s time to go a shore.
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FIND DIVE BUDDY AT THESE OUTLETS: BVI TORTOLA Aquaventure Wickam’s Cay, Roadtown Tel: 284-494-4320 Cane Garden Bay Pleasure Boats Tel: 284-495-9660 Island Marine Outﬁtters Road Reef Plaza, Tel: 284-434-4612 BVI VIRGIN GORDA Biras Creek Resort The Valley, Tel: 284-494-3555 Dive BVI Tel: 284-495-5513 The Bitter End Yacht Club Tel: 284-494-2745 ANGUILLA Anguilla Drugstore The Valley, Tel: 264-497-2738 Cuisinart Resort Rendez Vous Bay West, Tel: 264-498-2000 Cap Juluca Hotel Maundays Bay, Tel: 264-497-6666 Malliouhana Hotel Meads Bay, Tel: 264-497-6111 Shoal Bay Scuba Alamenda Beach Club, Shoal Bay, Tel: 264-235-1482 ST MAARTEN/ST MARTIN Aquamania Royal Palm Beach Hotel, Tel: 599.544.4505 Aquamania Dive Adventures Pelican Marina, Tel: 599.544.2640 Admiral Café Wathey Cruise Facilities, Tel: 599.542.2198 First Impression 10 Maho Plaza, Tel: 599.545.4436 La Saahil 22 Front St. Shop #4 Philipsburg, Tel: 599.542.2188 Island Water World Cole Bay, Tel: 599.544.5310 Island Water World Bobby’s Marina, Tel: 599.543.7119 Sea Dolphin Hotel Le Flamboyant Tel: 590.590.876.072 SABA Sea Saba Windwardside, Tel: 599.416.2246 ST KITTS Kenneth Dive Center Basseterre, Tel : 869.465.2670 Pro Divers Earl Morne, Basseterre, Tel : 869.466.3483 NEVIS Four Seasons Resort Pinney’s Beach, Tel: 869.469.6256 ST BARTH Le Brigantin Rue Jeanne d’Arc, Gustavia, Tel: 590.590.279.995 Marine Service Quai du Yacht Club, Gustavia, Tel: 590.590.277.034 ANTIGUA Island Watersports Willikies Village, St Johns, Tel: 268.774.6511 DOMINICA Anchorage Dive Center Roseau, Tel: 767.448.2638
“Darling, Can you get my Dive Buddy, I want to go snorkeling”
Cabrits Dive Center Picard Estate, Portsmouth, Tel: 767.445.3010 Dive Dominica Castle Comfort Lodge, Roseau, Tel: 767.448.2188 Fort Young Hotel Roseau, Tel: 767.448.5000 ST LUCIA Island Water World Rodney Bay Marina, Tel: 758.452.1222 Johnson Hardware Rodney Bay, Castries, Tel: 758.452.0299 The Jalousie Plantation Soufriere, Tel: 758.456.8038 BEQUIA, ST VINCENT Ross Lulley & Sons Port Elizabeth, Tel: 784-458-3420 GRENADA Devotion 2 Ocean Rex Grenadian, Tel: 473-444-3483 Island Water World St. Georges, Tel: 473-435-2150
D I V E B U D DY FU L L R A N GE N OW AT I S L A N D WAT ER WO R L D YA C H T H AV E N G R A N D E S 9, S T . T H O M A S T e l : 3 4 9. 7 1 4 . 0 4 0 4
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Distributed by Island Water World Marine Distributors, St. Maarten, NA. Tel. +599.544.5310 firstname.lastname@example.org
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THE BIG BOAT MARINA BOOM
476 billionaires. In March 2007 they listed 793, thats 317 more billionaires in the world today and many of them own or charter large yachts. American Business and Financial magazine no longer lists the 400 richest American multimillionaires; instead, it’s a full list of those whose net worth is at least $1 billion.
March, 2007 was the Yacht Haven Grande opening. Celebrities, financiers, socialite’s and real estate magnates from New York, Miami, and Dubai flew in for the festivities. A 150 local islanders performed, Beach Boy, Mike Love put on a concert and fireworks boomed skyward over a fleet of luxury mega-yachts.
hen a man who owns one of the largest yachts in the world commissions a new smaller yacht it’s indicative he’s got a problem. Larry Ellison owner of Rising Sun (452 feet, 8 inches) has a problem finding docks for his boat. Ellison admits his new smaller yacht will solve his docking dilemma. When the building boom of large yachts (80 feet and up) started in 2005 few in the yacht industry did much to provide the additional docking space these large yachts required. In 2002 the Caribbean’s first mega-yacht only marina opened in St. Maarten. Built by Dr. Reuben Hoppenstein a New Yorkbased retired neurosurgeon. Named Isle de Sol all 45 berths were full shortly after opening. Last year Island Global Yachting bought the marina adding it to their world wide marina collection. Other marinas in the Caribbean region adapted their existing marinas to handle the influx of large visiting yachts. Not much was offered in other marinas. They added more length to existing docks and beefed up their bollards. Not much more than just docks for these giant yachts to tie up too. Captains of large yachts are adept at making do with what’s available in the Islands. But would much prefer better facilities than just a place to tie up their yachts. Isle
del Sole Marina in St. Maarten’s Simpson Bay Lagoon is testament to this–slips are booked years in advance, from December to April their docks are packed. Andrew Farkas the creator and CEO of Island Global Yachting knows the mega yacht market well. He sums up his vision: “My new marinas will be the perfect places to park your yachts,” Farkas says. They’ll have restaurants, private-jet services and Bvlgari stores (in case you need a new diamond bauble). Anything less is merely a dock. Few in the yacht industry had the vision to see the market need beyond just docks. The yacht industry is made up mainly of engineering type people and yacht brokers. Their focus is building and selling boats, building docks has not been their interest. The yachting business as an industry it’s still finding it’s way. Since 1997, luxury yachts 80 and over has more than tripled. In 2005 a staggering 28% increase in new luxury yachts were being built! From 2005 to 2007 new yachts being built has icreased 51%. In 1993 the world had fewer than 700 privately owned boats over 100 feet. Today an estimated 7000 yachts large yachts are in use! Who is buying these new mega-yachts? Today global wealth is unprecedented. Forbes magazine listed three years ago
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Yacht builders say that many of their new clients arefrom Eastern Europe, Russia and smaller Middle Eastern countries— places where yacht ownership is a new phenomenon. Aside from the high entry cost of buying a large yacht there are many incentives and advantages to further fuel the desire of owning a yacht. People can live tax-free through ‘off shore’ residency
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on a yacht, cruising the world and docking in exotic and exciting locations. The national flag flying on a mega-yacht seldom represents the owners nationality. It’s a flag of convenience. Baby boomers are splurging on travel as a way to enjoy their retirement and wealth. With time on their hands and in good health some are touring the globe on a yacht. It’s a way to express their mind set of continued youth and vitality. You do know boomers never really get old don’t you! Yacht owners often charter their yachts to offset maintenance costs while not onboard. Today major yacht brokerages that used to only sell yachts have created special divisions that manage the boat for the owner. One of those divisions is charter management and marketing. It seems that everyone is charter yachting
these days. Yacht chartering now tops the list of the most popular and most expensive activity for people with a net worth of more than US$10 million. According to a survey by Prince & Associates for Elite Traveler magazine, summer holiday spending in 2007 was up 56% on 2005. In particular, spending on private yacht charters. The cost of chartering an average sized large yacht (140 feet) is between $200,000 - $250,000 per week. Large yachts cross oceans all over the world. Most luxury yachts have a circuit. The Mediterranean or New England in the summer and Florida, Bahamas and Caribbean in winter. The big boats stay in the Caribbean mainly from December to April making it the longest period of time in one region on this circuit. In the Mediterranean big yachts traditionally dock at port facilities in places like Monaco, known for their chic hotels and luxury goods shopping. By comparison the Caribbean is primitive. This is why Andrew Farkas is creating a collection of new style marinas in the Caribbean that will try to emulate the rich 5 star experience that the yacht crowd
in the Med love to embrace. Yacht Haven Grande is the first of this type in marina in operation. It offers yacht captains and owners the ultimate in high tech services at their extra-wide concrete docks. Convenience amenities are: on-site customs and immigration, hi-speed in-slip fueling & black water pump-out, hi-speed internet, WiFi, telephone & cable service and world-class provisioning. Many of these docking facilities are a first in the Caribbean. Captains love it! Beyond the docks at the waters edge is where the real difference is discovered. Called the upland development by IGY, it includes an esplanade with several restaurants and 80,000 square feet of retail shopping space, which is open to the public. Nowhere else on St. Thomas can a
visitor, tourist or resident enjoy waterside dining and shopping in such a luxurious environment. The integrated concept of first class dockage facilities, water front residences with luxury goods shopping plus casual and fine dining offer the best of two worlds to Caribbean travelers. Who could ask for anything more!
YACHT HAVEN GRANDE
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here is more. In the world of luxury marinas more are coming soon. On July 9, 2007 Island Global Yachting held a groundbreaking ceremony to announce their selection as the master developer and operator of a new luxury five-star marina and upland facility at Altamer Resort on Anguilla. The development, which will Beef Island serve as the official port of entry to AnBVI Virgin Gorda guilla, will feature a 101 slip marina of USVI which 30% of the berths will accomVillage Cay modate mega-yachts. Additionally, the complex will include 740,000 square feet Yacht Haven Grande of upland space which is currently slated American Yacht St. Maarten Shipyard for a 164 unit resort and a duty-free shopHarbor Portofino Marina ping and restaurant promenade. Planned The Yacht Club at Isle de Sol to be open in the fourth quarter of 2009, Simpson Bay Marina the project is a partnership between IGY and Altamer Resort owners, Michael and Rebecca Eggleton, and will be the first marina on Anguilla. Boyd, says, “The Travelift will lift vessels up to 200 ft. which covers the majority of the fleet. We can have as many as twelve mega-yachts out on the property.” St. Maarten as a totally duty-free port has become the choice island for large yachts due to the ease of acquiring anything needed for the yacht.
IGY MARINAS CARIBBEAN
The plan of Altamer Marina. Anguilla’s first ever. Beef Island, BVI. Adding to IGY’s waterfront destinations is Beef Island Marina. The planned goverment development of Beef Island will be a first class vacation destination. The planned marina will be strategically situated on approximately 663 acres of Beef Island, which is connected to Tortola by a bridge and is considered the international gateway to the British Virgin Islands. Conveniently located within 5 minutes of the international airport. The Beef Island Marina will offer hi-tech amenities designed to serve yachts. The proposed 140 to 180-slip inner stateof-the-art marina will include up to fifteen mega-yacht berths. St. Maarten Shipyard is a new IGY shipyard is to be operational by March 2008. The Shipyard will have a 600 metric ton marine Travelift boat hoist and a 200-ton hydraulic trailer. Specialists from around the world will have access to the facility, which is conveniently located less than a quarter of a mile from the Princess Juliana International Airport. IGY Executive Vice-President of Marina Services, Jeff
Rodney Bay Marina, St. Lucia. IGY bought the marina in Janurary 2007. Plans are in place to substantially enhance both the marina facilities and the upland amenities to a level consistent with other properties owned and managed by IGY. These improvements will be coordinated to allow continuous operation of the marina and will not interfere with with visiting boats needing to dock. Rodney Bay Marina is considered one of the Caribbean’s leading centers for yachting and sport fishing currently offering 232 slips and a 4.5 acre boatyard. Onshore, the property offers retail and restaurant facilities.
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Rodney Bay Marina
Oh! About Larry Ellisons boat parking problem. His 452 foot Rising Sun was able to tie up at Yacht Haven Grande last winter with room to spare.
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YA C H T H AV E N G R A N D
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YA C H T H AV E N G R A N D E
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S T. T H O M A S
When Stacy Cohen arrived on St. Thomas during a cruise, she looked for something to bring home to her one-year-old bulldog Monte. She could find no pet shops in town nothing for Monte, the beseeching gaze of one’s pet? Now HOW’ BOUT YOUR PET more than takes HOW ‘BOUT YOUR PET?
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Excerpts from the book
“THE LAST DAYS OF ST. PIERRE” By ERNEST ZEBROWSKI, JR
KNOWN AS THE PARIS OF THE CARIBBEAN, ST.PIERRE DISAPPEARED IN AN INSTANT ON MAY 8TH 1902
ay 8, 1902, a volcano on the French West Indian island of Ma r t i n i que e x p lo d e d a nd launched a pyroclastic surge down its southern flank. The deadly cloud of steam and ash churned through plantations and villages, flattened the grand city of St. Pierre, then thundered into the bay, where it sank eighteen ships and hundreds of smaller craft. Within a minute or two, nearly thirty thousand humans died. The splintered rubble of their homes and belongings burned for three days. This is the story of that eruption, the complex web of human commitment and folly that snared its victims, the passions and pains of those who survived, and the experiences of the contemporary scientists and journalists who sifted through the aftermath. Then, bearing gruesome testimony to the inadequacy of knowledge alone, the tragic tale of the deaths of thousands more. A century has passed since that cluster of disasters. The population of St. Pierre has recovered from zero to around five thou18 CARIBBEAN LANDFALLS
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sand--about one-sixth of its peak in 1902. Some buildings have been reassembled from the ruins; others are combinations of old rubble and newer concrete and stucco. The original paved streets, many with stone gutters two feet deep, today carry modern traffic and do a great job of breaking the axles of vehicles that wander out of the main thouroughfares. Yet here and there, dispersed through the town, the visitor still finds remnants of the 1902 destruction: old foundations of a once magnificent theater. Compared to the rest of the lovely island of Martinique, modern St. Pierre has an uneasy, temporary look about it—as if residents view themselves as just camping there until the next catastrophe. From virtually everywhere in town, one gets a grand view of the majestic Mont Pelée. During the past ten thousand years, this mountain has exploded at least forty seven times an average of one major eruption every
couple of centuries. Will it awake again? Almost certainly. When? That answer is far from certain. Pelee has sometimes slept peacefully for four or five centuries; during other intervals, it has erupted every few decades. And because there has been no decipherable pattern, there exists no equation that can predict the next event. Mont Pelee’s appointment schedule for its tantrums remains its deepest secret. If we cannot see clearly into the future, perhaps we can at least be informed by the past. Reconstructing what happened on Martinique in 1902, however, presents some challenges. By the time they were reduced to writing, many eyewitness accounts were corrupted by rumor and imagination. Other documents survive today only in edited versions and in translations of unknown veracity. Scores of contemporary writers, in rushing their stories to print, managed to
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confuse various details of the chronology and or the geography. Over the decades following the holocaust, of the colony’s main daily newspaper, Les Colonies. It also had a streetcar line, with women conductors. Writers waxed eloquent about the place; even in France, the city was often referred to as “the little Paris” and “the Paris of the Antilles.” And although the surrounding montains and ravines made it difficult to travel overland to the capital, ferries plied the sea regularly between St. Pierre and Fort de France, a trip that took an hour. For two generations, the mountain had been peace itself. Families picnicked on its slopes, children played on its paths and trails and leeward residents viewed it as a benevolent protector against the fury of hurricanes. The first settlers had named it Bald Mountain in reference to the barren strip of rock that circled its broad summit. Later, whimsical locals began calling it Pele, or French for “peeled” (curiously similar to but having no connection with Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes). When an unknown mapmaker added a second “e” to the name in the mid 1700s, the mountain became Montagne Pelee. There is never a clear point when a volcanic eruption begins. Some would claim that Pelee’s devastating explosion of 1902 was programmed by Mother Nature a billion years earlier, when she initiated the shifting motions of our planet’s crustal plates. Others would site the minor eruption of 1851 as the disaster’s beginning, noting that volcanoes live on geological rather than human timescales and that to a volcano a fifty year silence is like a human taking a moment to swallow in midsentence. Others would pick May of 1901. It was then that a young couple strayed from a picnic party at L’Etang de Palmistes and ventured to the edge of the precipice bordering L’Etang Sec. Peering down into the dry crater, they noticed fumes rising from a small opening at the base of a dead tree. The air smelled of sulphur. They shared their observations with the rest of their group, everyone took a look, all shrugged, and no one thought much about it again for nearly a year. At the Lycee Colonial in St. Pierre, Professor Gaston Landes had a habit of training the school’s telescope on pretty much everything within view, including CARIBBEAN LANDFALLS
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Mont Pelée. A few times in late 1901 he thought he had noticed wisps of vapor rising from the Etang Sec crater, and after some faint ground tremors in February of 1902 he began to watch more diligently. Some days the wisps seemed to be there, some days they weren’t, and some days he couldn’t tell, because the mountain was shrouded in clouds. But as a man of science, Landes continued his observations after many others would have gotten bored. And on April 2, 1902, there could be no doubt: clouds of steam and smoke were indeed rising from the upper valley of the Riviere Blanche. During the following week, snakes, rodents, and beetles began abadoning the flanks of the mountain and creating a general nuisance in the villages below. On the plantations, cattle became skittish, and dogs barked through the night. In the cane fields, a change in wind direction sometimes delivered a blossom of sulphur oxides that could knock over a strong man. On Sunday, April 20, Professor Landes hiked close enough to see that fumes were pouring from at least two seperate vents. And in St. Pierre, Clara Prentiss, discovered to her displeasure that her silverwear had tarnished again only a day after her servants had polished it. Thousands of feet beneath the Lesser Antilles, the slow but relentless westward creep of the Atlantic floor was driving a wedge under the Caribbean plate and squeezing a huge bulge of hot magna
toward the surface. The planetary crust here is pockmarked with the old and notso-old volcanoes; sites that have vented geothermal pressures in the past, then were plugged when the upward-swelling molten rock cooled and solidified. In the spring of 1902, on the islands of both Martinique and St. Vincent, a great unplugging had begun. The higher elevations of Martinique get a lot of rain, sometimes as much as two hundred inches in a year. Before it can reach the sea, much of this precipitation seeps into the underground streams and resevoirs inside the island’s ancient volcanoes. As Loius Mouttet grappled with his responsibilities as governor and tens of thousands of his constituents worried about their personal priorities, the magma swelling beneath everyone’s feet was heating those underground lakes and streams to a boil. Monday, May 5. At daybreak, ash was raining over the entire northern half of the island. The Riviere Blanche was acting strangely—oscillating between ebbing and swelling, with an occasional surge that swept boulders along its bed. A few miles upstream of Precheur and three thousand feet higher in elevation, the dry crater lake of L’Etang Sec was growing wider and deeper, its surface licking at the base of the crater’s great southwestwardfacing gash. By 8 in the morning, the misbehaving Riviere Blanche had attracted hundreds of spectators on both of its banks. The flow
A political election, government bureaucracy and fear of being robbed all played into the death of 30,000 people in 3 minutes.
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was no longer oscillating but had stabilized at a high level of continuos fury. A few brave souls watched from the wooden bridge, which shuddered visibly as the furious stream pummeled its piers. Gaston Landes was not about to take a chance crossing that bridge; he climbed off his horse and walked to the south bank, where he scooped out a handful of water. He was tempted to taste it, but its murky grayish brown color discouraged him. It was also uncharacteristically warm—not that there could be any doubt about the source of that heat. But what mainly piqued his curiosity about this water was that there was so much of it when the rainy season had yet to begin. He held his pocket notebook at arm’s length, using it as a guage to esti“I beheld the black vapor leap from the side of the mountain. Looking down on it as it rolled on to St.Pierre it seemed to me as if all of Martinique was sliding into the sea. A great tong of ﬁre seemed to detach itself from the vapor to lick up all the water in the Roxelane River. The British Government’s Residency was engulfed, as was every building around. Only the towers of the Cathedral of Saint Pierre remained untouched, and they for a brief moment, for the ﬁery mass enveloped them, too, as it spread itself over all of St. Pierre. The mass was being constantly refueled by a huge stream of ﬁre pouring out of the side of the crater to ravage an already devastated town. The cane ﬁelds were on ﬁre, as were the plantations around the town. There must be so many victims, hundreds, possibly thousands, and from here there was nothing to be done.” –father J. Mary, an eyewitness to the eruption of Mont Pelée mate the stream’s width, then he tossed a series of sticks into the river and timed their motion. He surmised the torrent’s depth from the observation that it was now teasing at the bridge’s deck. Then he did some arithmetic and rechecked his figures in amazement new errors and unfounded speculations masquerading as fact crept into literature of the disaster. Today one can read about the great eruption of 1902 on various Web sites and consume a vast quantity of misinformation. My writings is a modest attempt to set the stor y reasonably st raig ht. Counting both the victims and those otherwise affected (from surviving friends to devastated investors), there were at least eighty thousand human experiences of the disaster. Certainly the majority of these personal stories have since succumbed to the ravages of time. Nevertheless, to the extent possible, I have let the dead speak for themselves. I do not claim that they always spoke with accuracy or authority, and in fact part of the fascination of this story lies in this very confusion of conﬂicting impressions and the occasional opportunistic fabrication. 20 CARIBBEAN LANDFALLS
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Lahars preceding the May 8th eruption Mt.Pelée had many with underground streams and lakes. When magna begins to rise from below, reservoirs of ground water must go somewhere. In 1902 this phenomenon was not well documented, let alone understood. The phenomenon is referred to as a “Larhar” from the Javanese word “lava.” Today a larhar is recognized as a most serious hazard. In 1985 in Columbia during a relatively mild eruption of Nevado del Ruiz a larha surged down a river valley and killed 22,940 people, some in towns as 35 miles from the source.
At the dawn of the twentieth century, Martinique’s population stood at 187,692. Fort de France, the political capital, had 17,274 permanent residents. St. Pierre, some eleven miles to the north by boat, had a population of 26,501 a number that did not include temporary workers from out of town and the sailors one always finds in a busy port. In December of 1901, when Louis Mouttet arrived to take the reins of government, the grand city of St. Pierre was effectively the social and economic capital of the colony. [At the time of the disaster] He had been in Martinique only five months, too short a time to have forged many deep and trusting friendships. At forty four, Governor Louis Mouttet was also by some appraisal a bit young to be dealt a crisis of such magnitude. Politics he understood, power he had observed in action, but this situation went beyond anything in his experience. Nor did any of the handbooks of the French Colonial Service give any hint of guidance on how to deal with a volcano on a rampage. He was on his own. History has not been kind to him. He has been described as arrogant, superficial, stupid, headstrong, inept, a glutton and a
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racist. And indeed, hindsight tells us that his misjudgments helped seal the terrible fates of thirty thousand human beings. Yet Mouttet was more multidimensional than described later by many writers who had never met him. He was a devoted family man, and (as would be demonstrated by at least some of his actions during the crisis) color-blind in his sensitivity to the needs of those who had suffered tragedy. Any apologist on his behalf would also mention that during the eventful fi nal weeks, Mouttet held no personal monopoly on ignorance or bewilderment. All contemporary accounts describe St. Pierre as the gem of the French West Indies. Its picteresque two- and threestory masonry homes were roofed in red tile, its garden and courts landscaped with lush tropical plants, its paved streets displaying a level of craftmanship that astounded visiting Americans of those times. The theater rivaled in elegance the best that could be found in other world cities of many times the size. The city had electricity, a local telephone service, intercontinental telegraph access, One thought was apparently on his mind: Nothing he had ever read in any book had mentioned ﬂooding streams as a collateral effect of volcanic activity. In St. Pierre, it was 12:45 p.m.when the sea abrubtly receded. Detritus of the harbor bottom lay exposed out to fifty yards from shore: old rusted machinery, the hulks of fishing boats sunk in the hurricane of 1891, items of cargo that had fallen overboard during during loading or unloading. In coastal towns in other places at other times, such incidents had been known to attract throngs of the curious, who then perished in the return wave. In St. Pierre, the residents somehow knew better. Rather than descend to the uncovered harbor bottom to root for items to salvage, most ran immediately in the opposite direction to higher ground. And indeed, within a few minutes, the sea returned in a huge swell that inundated the entire waterfront area to a depth of five feet. The damage in St. Pierre was minimal: One yacht sank and some cargo on the docks lost. Although thousands of barrels of rum were swept into the harbor, they ﬂoated fairly well, and all were quickly recovered. The main unfortunate effect of this tsunami would be to convince many people that the threat was from the sea rather than from the volcano. Then, within a few hours, terrible news began to trickle in from Precheur. Some stories reported dozens of victims; other CARIBBEAN LANDFALLS
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Mont. Pelée today
Only two people on land in St. Pierre were known to survive. A young shoemaker, Léon Compere-Léandre and 25 year old named Louis-Auguste Ciparis. Ciparis was notorious and captured world attention. He was sentenced to solitary conﬁnement for a week in the prison’s dungeon. On May 8, He was severely burned, but managed to survive for four days before he was rescued by people exploring the ruins. After he recovered, he received a pardon and later was recruited into the American Barnum & Bailey Circus, where he toured the world billed as the “Lone Survivor of St. Pierre.”
accounts said up to 150. Whatever the number of dead, there clearly had been a disaster close to home. And a truly weird one. On the morning of May 6, no one in St. Pierre could miss the posters prominently displayed all over town and carrying the signature of Mayor Rodolphe Fouché, assuring everyone that they were in no immediate danger. Citizens were advised to continue about their normal activities and not surccumb to groundless panic. The poster promised that no lava ﬂows would reach the city. Drop a live frog into a pot of boiling water, and the creature will instantly hop out. But gently place a frog in a pot of cold water, then light a fi re beneath, and then it will stay put until it has been cooked. If the people of St. Pierre had been strangers dropped into that city in the fi rst week of May, 1902, there can be little doubt that most would have sprung out without hesitation like frogs from a hot cauldron. Yet many indeed complained, but few were hopping out.
The Last Days of St. Pierre by Ernest Zebrowski Rutgers University Press, www.rudgerspress.edu ISBN 0-8135-3041-5 Also available at several book stores and online book retailers.
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impson Bay Yacht Club is located on the south side of the bridge to Simpson Bay lagoon. It is a wonderfull place to relax and wander around. The atmosphere is that of a small cozy village with shops, restaurants and cafes. Landscaped with lush tropical vegetation and shady established trees makes it a great afternoon place to go. You can get out of the hot sun yet still enjoy the outdoors. Even though it is named Simpson Bay Yacht Club it is not a private club. Simpson Bay Marina is connected to the complex and is open to visiting yachts for fuel and docking.
INTER COIFFURE established its excellent reputation over twenty years ago. ‘Pamper yourself’ this week! Hours Tues-Sat. 10:30 AM-6:30 PM Tel: +599.544.2985
he marina is one of network of world-class marinas owned and operated by Island Global Yachting (IGY.) The marina offers an outstanding range of on-site conveniences for luxury boat and mega-yacht owners, their guests and crew members. The docks feature 120 slips and accommodates vessels up to 180 feet with a max 15 foot draft. The highest quality of services can be found at this marina. Amenities include potable water, high capacity electricity services including 480 volt 3-Phase 100 Amps per leg, plus single phase 100 amps per leg, 220V50 Amps, 110V30 Amps 60hz; free satellite television and telephone connectivity. JIMBO’S Mesquite Grill. Dine in our covered patio surrounding the pool and waterfall. Happy hour is when everyone shows up. It’s the cool place to be. Tel: + 599.544.3600
dockage andLslip reservations ARIBBEAN ANDFALL S at Simpson Bay Marina Tel: + 599-544-2309 22 CFor
Fax: + 599-544-3378 E-mail SB@igymarinas.com www.igy-simpsonbay.com
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Frommer comment’...the rated Saratoga with this most creative cutting edge restaurant on the island.” Open from 6:00 PM until closing. Reservations; +599.544 2421
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Wht not stop by our office and find the ‘Villa’ of your dreams. We have hundreds of listings. Tel: +599.544.3107 Fax: 599.544.3375 www.jennifersvacationvillas.com
“Chic” apparel direct from France and Italy. We offer a vast selection of evening dresses. Swarofsky Crystal Leather shoes and fabulous accessories. Tel: +599.544.3771
intimate Italian of old Hollywood CVALENTINO’S ARIBBEANisLanANDFALL S bistro that offers a unique ambiance and superb Italian food. Dinner 7pm-11pm, pizza until 3 am. Tel:+599.5512378
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Jane HARRISON: 27 years specialising in all areas ofyacht services. Régis HEUZE: Notable French chief with 16 years experience provisioning yachts.
WHERE’S IVAN? Gelateria & Pastry Shop. Exotic french pastries, Ciao bella gelato, panini and deli sandwiches, great for a quick affordable breakfast, lunch or a late night treat.
Medical Doctors are available by appointment. Clinic hours: 8:00 AM-6: PM week-23 days. Saturday 8:00 AM-Noon. Tel: +599.544.5312 Emergency +599.551.1100
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THE SIMPSON BAY STRIP
Shrimpy’s Portaﬁno Marina
I Connoisseur’s Duty-Free
n Simpson Bay, the long thin strip of land between the Caribbean sea and the lagoon is the place where a unique mixture of businesses are congregated. Tourist commerce is the main business on The Strip. Entrepreneurs first started
plying their trade for tourist dollars from time share vacationers. Later the yachting crowd arrived to shelter in the lagoon. The Strip is a multi-cultural place. Indian merchants sell wines and spirits, Chinese are concerned with food markets, Italians
Pizza Galley Isle del Sol Yacht Club
Simpson Bay Marina
African House of Wonders
Simpson Bay Yacht Club
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have restaurants, the French have bakeries, Americans have sports bars. The strip isn’t very big, but it seems to have a piece of culture from just about everywhere. Restaurants proliferate the area. Many boutiques and gift shops are sprinkled
along the road. You will find unique furniture at House of Wonders. Yacht repair facilities are in abundance, Necol Electronics can set your yacht up for satellite communications, or find a bargain at the nautical flea market at Shrimpy’s on Sun-
day at noon. The Soggy Dollar Bar at the Palapa Marina hosts special parties during the season for their regular nautical guests. There’s a floating bar boat and a Pizza Galley next to the bridge that rocks from sunset on through the night.
Specializing in hard to find products. Well known among the visiting yachts. 9:30 AM to 7:00 PM Sunday 10:00 AM to 1 PM Contact us at (+599) 545 2902 Fax (+599) 545 3656 or e-mail us for your order and quote: email@example.com For special orders we work outside our normal hours: Contact: (599 ) 542.4402 or CELL (599) 580.4782.
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St.Thomas, USVI St.Maarten, N.A. Yacht Haven Grande Cole Bay Tel: 349.714.0404 Tel: 599.544.5310 LANDFALLS Fax: 599.544.3299 26 CARIBBEAN Fax: 349.714.0405
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St.Maarten, N.A. Bobby’s Marina Tel: 599.543.7119 Fax: 599.542.2675
St. Lucia, W.I. Rodney Bay Marina Tel: 785.452.1222 Fax: 785.452.4333
Grenada, W.I. St. George’s Tel: 473.453.2150 Fax: 473.453.2152
Grenada, W.I. Grenad Marine Tel: 473.443.1028 Fax: 473.443.1038
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Havin’s Fabrication St. Maarten Sails Island Water World
FKG Hydraulics FKG Rigging Lagoon Marina Electec
Titanium Stainless Steel & Aluminium Tig Welding Machining & Design
T-Tops, Arches Bimini Frames Fuel Tanks CustomBrackets
7 Wellington Rd, Cole Bay, St. Maarten Tel: 599 552 0530 • firstname.lastname@example.org
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Tom Johnston and his wife Gladdie Moonhole into a home. Building materials any exotic homes have been built in the islands, yet none both decided to drop out of the advertising consisted of what was there. Beach sand, can hold a candle to Moonhole business in the U.S.A., where both of them rocks, whale bones and a wrecked ship. for its uniqueness. Moonhole is located held senior positions. Fed up with city life, Concrete was the only building material on the tip of a promontory in Bequia jut- they headed down to the tiny Grenadine that needed to be imported by ship. Without having any building experiting out into the southeast Caribbean sea. island of Bequia in 1960. Tom dreamed of Moonhole is a 35 acre property with 19 this island paradise many times since he ence, but a lot of imagination and a newly first saw it in 1939 while in the merchant acquired formula for mixing concrete homes built into the rocky cliffs. One of the things that makes Moonhole navy. The Johnston’s return to the United gleaned from an engineer he met at a bar, a fascinating place to visit is knowing States was expected in about three months Tom and Gladdie were soon to become cliff dwellers in a home like how it came into being. no other! Tom Johnston, the man Tom’s son Jim related who built it, just built it. a few stories about how In his words, “I didn’t his father went about conknow I couldn’t do it...So structing the homes. “He I did it!” would just see things, a Moonhole’s home detree he liked. He would sit signs were Tom Johnston’s next to the tree, then say, way of living with nature. this will make a great place Modern conveniences that to read so we’ll build the most people are accuscorner of the ﬂoor out and tomed to do not exist in around this tree.” Tom’s Moonhole. Cars or golf relationship with his Becarts are not used to get quian workers was unique. around the area. Water is They liked Tom once they collected in cisterns from got used to his free wheelrainfalls and the showers ing creative ways. They all are in/outdoor designs, thought he was crazy but a water pressure is simply nice kinda crazy man. Jim gravity. There’s no airsaid his father was a beconditioning as most know nevolent dictator. This fact the term. Natural air-conwas accepted by his family ditioning is supplied by and the workers. He knew the Caribbean trade winds what he wanted and would through the glassless pannot compromise. It was oramic windows of all the a regular occurrence that homes. For light at night Tom, at days end, would oil lanterns are used, and demolish a wall built that a 12 volt system lights the day! Why? He didn’t like kitchens. The power for what he saw, had another this is harvested by silent Moonhole, it’s strange... perhaps frightening or is it Utopia! idea, a better one. In order solar panels into storage batteries. Stoves and refrigerators run by friends. It didn’t happen! The magic to communicate what he wanted done by on propane. Moonhole’s entertainment of Bequia and a place the locals called his workers he would draw in the sand. system is what engineers have tried to Moonhole rekindled Tom’s creativity. Once he asked a broad beamed female artificially reproduce for years with a Tom and Gladdie vowed never to return to sand carrier to lie on her side at the site for a new wall in order to physically show myriad of gadgets. Real living nature is the American advertising fraternity. Tom discovered the mystique of Moon- the workers how he wanted the wall to the surround sound, superb visual color clarity and magnificent lighting. People hole while working at The Sunny Carib curve. who live at Moonhole are integrated with Guest house located in Port Elizabeth. The Windward islands of nature and that’s what is special about it. (Now renamed, The Plantation.) He St.Vincent & Grenadines Walking trails twist and turn rising and regularly took guests for picnics under the falling throughout the area. Magnificent huge arch at Moonhole. Gladdie, who Tom views, exotic birds, ﬂowers, insects, liz- refers to as his lovely bride and wife who ards, bandicoots and more can be seen if indulges him totally, said yes to the idea of you stop anywhere on the trails to silently buying 35 acres at Moonhole after living Bequia in Bequia for about a year. With no civil observe Mother Nature. To better understand what Moonhole is engineers, architects, contracting company Moonhole all about is to know a little about the man or even plans on paper, Tom and a small band of Beqiuan workers started to sculpt who built it. 28 CARIBBEAN LANDFALLS
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Whale ribs provide the perfect material for banisters throughout Moonholeâ€™s multilevel dwellings
The ancient mariner etched on Moonhole arch. Put there by nature or man? Who knows!
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Tom Johnston achieved a unique blend of comfortable living harmonized with nature todayâ€™s architects still find challenging.
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“Moonhole is not everyone’s dish of tea. It’s as much a nightmare for some as it is heaven for others.” “Follow the silhouette of her body with your eyes, can you see the curves? That’s how I want the wall to curve!” It was during the mid 1960s that building around Moonhole’s promontory reached a fast pace. The Johnston’s unique world of living as cliff dwellers was seen by millions in America when Sports Illustrated magazine ran a feature story about the unique rock house by the sea. Suddenly visitors arrived more frequently. Most were friends from college and business. Was Tom becoming a real estate developer? He really wasn’t interested. He knew his ideas wouldn’t work for most people. This is what Tom said to friends interested in a home in Moonhole. “Please don’t think I’m trying to ‘sell’ you to come to Moonhole to buy a
‘cave’ for a couple of hundred thousand bucks. Even if you take out your checkbook and say (as one classmate did!), ‘How much? I’ll write you a check this minute.’ You’d have to come three times before we could come to a ﬁnal agreement, because Moonhole is not everyone’s dish of tea. It’s as much a nightmare for some as it is heaven for others.” One of Tom’s friends who made his three visits to qualify for a home decided to commission a civil engineer to study the Moonhole’s geography. This exercise resulted with a scale model being built and sent to Tom. When this large box arrived in Bequia by courier and was handed to Tom the box slipped from his hands smashing the contents beyond recognition. Tom related to his friend,in a letter. “The model was damaged in transit but not to worry the house is coming along nicely.” Tom’s creativity extended beyond building curvy rock buildings. What Tom called Scrim-sculpture was carving designs out of large whale bones. Bequia, historically being a whaling island, provided plenty of whale bones. In Philadelphia he was given a Key to the City for an exhibition of his work. Over time more people became fascinated with Tom’s ar t y creations. England’s Cambridge Biological Institute entered Tom’s achievements into their “First Five Hundred”. When contacted the Institute asked. “Let us know, so that we can pass it on to younger generations, your secret of success...” In Tom’s words this is how he responded. “I did not ask First Five A permanent resident at Moonhole Hundred What? I simply 30 CARIBBEAN LANDFALLS
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Johnston ended up employing over a 100 local workers on the island. It all started in the 60s when friends wanted homes built on his unique rocky paradise. answered: ‘Indeed I do have a secret of success...and any man could succeed who’s got what I got’...and I asked facetiously: ‘Oh What the hell have I got? Merely three (count ‘em) three fabulous females who for years past, right this second, and all my years to come, love me blindly; indulge me totally. That’s all. Oh yes, you want to know maybe who they are? Merely: Lady Luck, Dame Nature and most of all, Gladdie Mary-Francis Hinners Johnston, my sweet-heartbride and wife of now thirty seven years.” Moonhole is well worth having a look at in order to fully capture its unique enchantment. Tours are given during the winter months on Saturdays at 2:30. For more information contact: Jim or Sheena Johnston: Tel:1-784-458-3068. www.begos.com/bequiamoonhole
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32 CARIBBEAN LANDFALLS
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Published on Jul 17, 2008