October 2017 Update
I think it best to start with effects of Irma and Maria here in the US Virgin Islands. On September 6, 2017, the most powerful hurricane ever in the Atlantic basin made a direct hit on the British Virgin Islands, St John and St Thomas. Just two weeks later on September 20, 2017, hurricane Maria made a direct hit on St Croix and Puerto Rico as another category 5 savage storm. Thankfully all of us at Ocean Surfari are safe.
I have been living either in the US Virgin Islands or Florida since 1989 and have seen many hurricanes over the last 28 years. Nothing I have witnessed compared to the destruction these storms have done to the Islands here. Only hurricane Andrew in 1992 that decimated Florida City and Homestead comes close to the damage sustained here.
On September 3rd, we moved our 37’ Calypso vessels to Brenner Bay on the south side of St Thomas. Brenner Bay is surrounded by mangroves protecting vessels from the large waves created by hurricanes. On September 7th, after spending the morning clearing roads, we reached Brenner Bay to see both Backlash and Hitman sitting proudly where they had been tied to the mangroves four days earlier. Both vessels weathered the storm completely undamaged. Unfortunately, many other vessels were not so lucky. About an hour later, we reached our retail store at American Yacht Harbor marina. The store fared better than most but we did have water damage as the roof at American Yacht Harbor was damaged. We have since cleaned up the store and are waiting for roof damages to be repaired before painting.
Presently our store is open for business and both charter boats in the US Virgin Islands are available for charter. We have taken a handful of charter fishing trips with contractors and locals the last two weeks. Our vessels have also assisted in evacuations and restoration efforts ferrying evacuees and contractors between islands as needed.
On a bright note, fishing has been very good both offshore and inshore. The mahi bite has been very good, catching numerous each offshore trip we have done. The wahoo bite was very good last week on a 4-hour trip with some visiting electrical linemen going 2 for 4 with both fish exceeding 30 pounds. Blackfin tuna have been consistent also offshore. We have had two blue marlin on in the last four trips, unfortunately we didn’t land either one but they are out there. Inshore bottom fishing has been producing good numbers of snapper and grouper and trolling for kingfish has been productive as the water has cleared up considerably the last two weeks.
I have had numerous inquiries regarding accommodations for this winter season. Here are the accommodations that are accepting reservations now:
Numerous private villas, call Sporting Adventures International at 803-256-0600 or www.sportingadv.com
Margaritaville St. Thomas 340-775-8300 or www.extraholidays.com
Secret Harbour Beach Resort 1-800-524-2250 or www.secretharbourvi.com
Emerald Beach Resort 1-800-233-4936 or www.emeraldbeach.com
Point Pleasant Resort 1-888-619-4010 or www.pointpleasantresort.com
Windward Passage Hotel 1-954-805-0136 or www.windwardpassage.com
Grande Bay Resort 1-340-693-4668 or www.grandebayresort.com
Gallows Point Resort 1-800-323-7229 or www.gallowspointresort.com
Estate Lindholm 1-800-322-6335 www.estatelindholm.com
Sirenusa Residences 1-800-727-6610 www.sirenusaresidences.com
Also check www.airbnb.com and www.vrbo.com as many private villas and condos are available for rent on both St Thomas and St John. Many more villas and resorts will be opening for the winter season and I will post another update in my November update. All of us here in the Virgin Islands would love to see you this winter. The beaches are as beautiful as ever, waters are still crystal clear and the fish are as hungry as ever. Hope to see you soon!
Captain Marc Blackburn
Owner of Ocean Surfari Charters