As I have stated in past blogs, my ‘Keep Moving’ theme can mean many different things related to how we handle our time in retirement. Some activities are more sedentary that keep hands and minds nimble like crocheting, sewing, needlepoint, reading, writing blogs, traveling, etc., to more physical activities like bicycling, walking, golf, tennis, pickelball, joining exercise program, etc.
Recently my wife and I were moving at a speed of about 15 knots as we embarked on a cruise from Port Canaveral, Fl. Our ports-of-call for this cruise were St. Thomas, San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Royal Caribbean’s private island, Labadee, on the island of Haiti. If you recall just three months ago Hurricane Irma slammed into both St. Thomas and San Juan with category 4 and 5 winds and wrecked havoc on both islands. These two ports just recently opened to cruise ship traffic. Both islands rely heavily on tourism as a major source of revenue so it was important to open the ports as soon as possible to begin restoring some measure of normalcy to the people. It was also beneficial for the cruise lines as well.
Looking down on the harbor pilot boat from our balcony on deck 7 as it maneuvers close to our ship. The harbor pilot boards each cruise ship as it leaves port to “guide” it safely out of the harbor. The harbor pilot boat then comes along side the ship and the harbor pilot jumps onto the harbor pilot boat and returns to port.
However, two hours out of Port Canaveral the Captain announced that a passenger had a medical emergency that required more treatment than the on-board medical staff could provide. So we returned to Port Canaveral and five minutes after transferring the patient to an awaiting ambulance we were underway again. We did hear later that the patient’s condition was not life threatening and he should recover.
We were now four and a half hours behind schedule and 1,049 nautical miles from St. Thomas. That meant we had a need for speed. That term is relative since the maximum cruising speed of the Oasis of the Seas is 22.6 knots and we were originally traveling at 15 knots. So we headed out to the open sea hoping for two days of smooth sailing. The second day we awoke to cloudy skies, a 20 knot head wind, and rain. Those conditions created 10 to 12 foot swells which this large ship cut through like a hot knife through butter. However, even ships this large are at the mercy of the ocean and with stabilizers deployed we felt the ship roll a bit which made walking in a straight line difficult.
We arrived in St. Thomas on time and docked at Crown Bay. The cruise ship Bahama’s Paradise was docked in the next birth. This ship is being used to house power line workers and others involved in the recovery efforts from Hurricane Irma.
We joined a group that was taking a tour of the island and stopping at several points of interest including the ‘Top of the Mountain’, an area that on a clear day offers a 180 degree view of the Caribbean sea and the surrounding islands of Jost Van Dyke, Tortola, and St. Johns. However, as we approached the summit we drove into the clouds and endured an hour of heavy rain and fog. So the 180 degree view was limited to about 200 feet. We were glad we had seen the view on previous trips.
Communication tower at the ‘Top of the Mountain’. Note the tower next to it nor the satellite dish were not damaged.
It is hard to say how long the recovery will take but work crews are making progress. The main roads around the island have been cleared but many side roads and streets remain blocked or have limited access because of downed trees. Any wide spot along the narrow, winding roads are piled with vegetative debris, appliances, furniture, and other damaged items. Many roof tops are draped with blue tarps, communication lines from power poles remain on the ground, hundreds of power poles have been replaced and hundreds more are stacked and ready to be installed. Debris is segregated into piles near the port by the type of disposal needed. There are piles of vegetation, white goods (appliances), and construction and demolition debris (building materials). I don’t know what the final disposal plan for these items will be but being on an island will make that task more difficult.
Part of the roof from this building can be seen on the hillside below.
Our tour guide told us that about 40% of the island has electrical service restored. As we departed at dusk you could see lights scattered among the houses dotting the mountains above Crown Bay and Charlotte Amalie. It is hard to tell if all those lights were powered by restored electricity or from generators. I thought it was interesting that each street light outside of town has its own solar panel.
This used to be a coconut grove at Magan’s Bay. Photo by Marilyn Baker
Equipment loading hurricane debris. Photo by Marilyn Baker
Up rooted trees across telephone and electric lines. Photo by Marilyn Baker
Magan’s Bay beach area. Photo by Marilyn Baker
Next port-of-call – San Juan, Puerto Rico. See you there.