Quick Question...or two!
I'm in the same boat with many others as far as 'thinking' about a making a pmv (I'm in the first stages here). I am from a northern island (think cape air of the north), born and (mostly) bred (several generations-I'm a filial heretic for even thinking about a move). So far, I'm finding that the expected frustrations are extremely similiar to what I grew up with, except you have more amenities. Kmart?? I grew up with a sears catalog store as our big 'mainland' connection. Chain stores of any kind are an improvement!! Housing costs are about the same between the two. Looking at the other costs, it's about the same with VI coming out ahead on some items and our rock coming out ahead on others.
Reading the boards, I have been absolutely fascinated by the number of similarities, with some definitive stark contrasts, I am starting to wonder how much of the concerns are 'islandness' in general (living on islands only accessible by air or sea). Working two to three jobs is standard for islanders, yet everything definitely happens at a slower pace than off-island, just listen to a tourist or two-especially one who just bought a vacation house. (who alternatively love it (at the beach) and hate it (standing in line at 'insert your municipal govenment agency' here). However, I am digressing, although I'd love to swap stories sometimes.
I am wondering about a few things and have decided to de-lurk and ask a question or two and forgive me if these sound, well, kinda 'duh' but knowing my island life, I know these answers will be important to me:
What is the situation with drinking water? One site mentioned it as a concern, and I would like to know more about that, if anyone would care to elaborate, I'd appreciate it.
We don't have mega-ships showing up on our backdoor daily (or weekly?) I'm wondering what the influx of this type of tourist 'looks' like?? Are they 'confined' to one area or several (the 'spots'), or is it more diffuse?? Are there servicible (passable without a 4WD, even if dirt) backroads to get around the congestion?? (or, alternatively, what is the single biggest pain when 'the boat is in') What would be the difference between the high and lo portions of the seasons in this respect?? (whatever marker you want to use-people, ships, general frustration levels of islanders....)
Do you find you rely on ferry service between the islands and is it solely passenger, or is there a car ferry service? (the sites I've found so far seem only passenger, but I figured I'd ask-one never knows!) . Or are planes the major way of moving?? Also, how often do people travel between the islands for 'life' (do you plan once-monthly shopping trips to a grocery store, for example)?
BTW, this board is fairly invaluable. IMHO, transient populations are a way of life on a tourist-dependent island, but you guys are doing a great job of putting into perspective. I, for one, appreciate getting a 'real' perspective on those living it.
Thanks in advance. I appreciate any and all feedback!!!
"What is the situation with drinking water?"
Most folks have cisterns and if they're chlorinated regularly the water's safe to drink. Restaurants have their water checked regularly so their water is safe to drink.
"I'm wondering what the influx of this type of tourist 'looks' like?? Are they 'confined' to one area or several (the 'spots'), or is it more diffuse?? Are there servicible (passable without a 4WD, even if dirt) backroads to get around the congestion??"
Cruise ship passengers tend to congregate in Charlotte Amalie at the shopping centers on the harbor waterfront (downtown, Havensight, Yacht Haven, Crown Bay). Some take taxis to Coki Beach/Coral World or Magens Beach. Fridays most ships are on their way to FL for the weekend passenger turnover so many Fridays there are no ships. On some days during season there can be half-a-dozen ships in port. There are fewer ships during the summer when many ships reposition to spend summers in Alaska, Europe and the Mediterranean. The congestion downtown can be challenging to avoid but unless you work downtown, you can probably arrange your schedule to avoid the worst of the traffic.
"Do you find you rely on ferry service between the islands and is it solely passenger, or is there a car ferry service?"
There is ferry service between the islands of the USVI and the BVI. The only car barge is between St. Thomas and St. John.
"Or are planes the major way of moving?? Also, how often do people travel between the islands for 'life' (do you plan once-monthly shopping trips to a grocery store, for example)?"
One can travel throughout the Caribbean by plane. Some people make regular trips to Puerto Rico or the states but most make do with what's available locally, eBay and other online shopping, and occasional trips stateside.
There is passenger ferry service between STT & STX. The legislature just approved a 15 year no bid contract for the current operator. In addition there are several shuttle air carriers.
Freight moves by barge between STX & STT.
STT and St John are a lot more connected than STX. There is passenger ferry service 4 times a week netween STX and STT but no car ferry service between STX and anywhere. Pretty much when you are on STX you are on STX. You can go to STT but it is going to cost you around $80 on the ferry for a few hours stay or from $130 to a lot more to fly. The sea plane's last flight is around 7:00 pm so you can't pop over for the evening and get back without staying the night. While we are connected politically to STT, it can be expensive ti visit there. If you want to shop PR has more options and it only costs a bit more than going to STT.
Rain water collected in cisterns is the way most get their water for regular daily usage. Depending on how clean & maintained your system is from the roof catchments, pipes to the cistern itself the water stored in the cistern is what is used to drink & cook. Some people do purchase bottled water for drinking. As a side note on the cisterns... when the water runs low or runs out then you buy water by the truck load to put in the cistern.
On St. Croix and St. John the high and low season is more greatly affected by on island vacationers, which also exists for St. Thomas. As for where you might notice the visitors the most for these two islands, in the main towns of Cruz Bay for St. John and Christiansted for St. Croix and also at popular beaches and sites. During off season you will find the main towns quieter, some shops open later or close earlier and some restaurants close for a few weeks (usually in late Sept - early Oct, the slowest of the off months).
The influx of cruise ship passengers coming into St. Thomas can be overwhelming when there are multiple ships in port. There are areas that are popular with cruise ship passengers and as a resident you learn which they are, what general route the taxi tours take and so on. The main area you'd want to avoid if you could when multiple ships are in port is downtown CA and Havensight, in which case yes depending on where you were at and where you were going you could drive "around" and avoid downtown if you needed to and on serviced, regular roads. Difference in cruise ships during high and low... during high we can get 4,5,6,7 ships in port, sometimes more, sometimes less a day; and during low season 1-3 ships with some no ship days.
For the most part the only residents that might on a daily or somewhat regular basis, and by ferry, come over to another island to do shopping, or doctor visits, work or school would be those on St. John and on Water Island and coming over to St. Thomas for the services the bigger island offers. Some St. Thomas residents work on St. John as well. Residents on St. Thomas might go over to St. John or Water Island for leisure activities once and a while. Some residents in the British Virgin Islands come over to St. Thomas to do big monthly shopping or for doctors and so forth.
Glad you find the board & site helpful. All the best with your plans,
On STT there is a desalinization plant that does bottle water - Virgin H2O. I used to buy it at Cost-U-Less on STT at 6 gallons for around $5. It was always part of our hurricane preparedness and we used it for our coffee and for drinking. It tasted fine and I liked it better than some of the other 'imports'.
(to the board) If I am wrong about the water, please let me know. Cruzan rum is from STX, but they bottle it in Florida. I would like to know if the water ever leaves the island before going to the shelves.
Virgin H2O uses well water and treats it with reverse osmosis to remove the hard minerals. They do the treatment, filtering, bottling etc. here and ship right to the stores.
In re: getting stuff from catalogs (or on-line): You'll find that some folks who would ship to your northern island won't ship to the VI; they just don't understand that the VI is part of the US postal system. There are other folks who ship some things and not others. For example: you can order all sorts of stuff from Amazon.com, but they won't ship most electronic goods. I ordered a couple of memory discs for an MP3 player and had to have them shipped to our son at school, because Amazon wouldn't ship them to the VI. A lot of on-line companies have lots of blank, fil-in type spaces for you to put in your name, address, etc; but they'll have a drop-down menu for the state/province. They'll have the 50 states, DC and all the Canadian provinces; some will even remember APO and FPO addresses, but they won't have US territories (or they'll have Puerto Rico and not the VI). It creates a certain level of frustration -- I tend to send them a piece of my mind on the "contact us" page!
Thanks everyone!!! That is some great information!! Much obliged!!
Where is the well water from? I didn't know there was any. Good to know that it really is done on island. So, is that the water that they fill your cistern with or is that different? Learn something new every day. 🙂
There are some wells on STX. The water used to fill cisterns on STT is usually desalinated water.
If you get your cistern filled by one of the water guys it will be cheaper to get well water then cistern water. Rain water is usually better quality then well water. I have a well on my property and while I love that I never have to pay for water, I too prefer my cistern water.
To my taste (in the days when I had to have water trucked in which, fortunately, I haven't had to do in the last few years) "well water" was "heavy" and the desal was a bit slimy. Betty, with all due respect, I think the trucked water options are generally well or desal. Cistern water is cistern water but I don't think water truckers carry it. No doubt someone will correct me if I'm wrong.
There are wells on St. Thomas, some on government land and some on private property. I think the truck delivered water includes both desal and treated well water for the VI in general; but on STT & STJ it's mostly desal and STX you can get either.