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BVI Bulletin – Nov 06

SHIP CAPSIZES IN TORTOLA

The Bad News: a container ship traveling to the BVI from St. Martin capsized recently after taking on water, spilling its cargo of 1500 gallons of fuel into Brandywine Bay. There were also seven containers on board, five of which were recovered, destined for supermarkets. The other two are out at sea—so watch out cruisers!

The Island Seal, owned by Star Shipping Ltd. of Tortola, was salvaged by Kevin Rowlette, owner of Husky Salvage and Towing, who did the first stages of work and relocated it to a calmer area, thus removing the fuel and securing the boat.

Bill Bailey of Marine Surveyors Ltd. is representing the underwriters for Caribbean Insurers and dived several times at the vessel, inspecting it for damages. "The vessel is still the property of the owners. The Chalwell family has a very good reputation of maintaining their boats. It is up to the owners what they want to do with it”.

The Good News: the company has purchased a new 175-foot Over Shore Supply Vessel named Pacific Seal, capable of carrying 11 40-foot containers at a cost of more than $2 million. The 175′ ship has plenty of extras—it is equipped with central air conditioning, is capable of sleeping 15 people, has a full-service kitchen with a walk-in freezer, and a lounge with a leather sofa and plasma television.  The family-run business has been operating for more than 50 years in the BVI and has seven brothers who are ship captains. The Pacific Seal, which will make voyages to Puerto Rico, St. Kitts, and Nevis, is U.S. Coast Guard approved.

NEW LOBSTER FARM PLANNED FOR BVI

Getting more lobsters is in the works for diners in the BVI. Local companies Romney Associates Consultants and Caribbean Sustainable Fisheries are planning to start a lobster farm in Pockwood Pond. Biologist Rob Power has been studying spiny lobsters for the past 10 years and has researched ways to make lobster farming an economically and environmentally viable enterprise. His plan focuses on harvesting larvae, born in the wild, and then raising them to market size. Recently hatched lobsters, which are lobster larvae, will be eaten by diners before reaching the age and size where they can reproduce; fewer than one in 1,000 lobster larvae survive to be able to mate. Harvesting those larvae seems better than hunting adult lobsters since they are the ones that reproduce. So instead of taking adults that ensure the health of the wild population, the project intends to target the juveniles, the vast majority of which will not reach adulthood. An environmental impact assessment of the project has been filed with Town and Country Planning, which is part of the path toward final approval.

CAMERA RIGGED UNDERWATER BOAT READY FOR ACTION

Andy Cowan & Chris Charlton have started a new business, Caribbean Undersea Adventures, which will give a diver’s-eye view to tourists who don’t want to get wet. They will offer undersea tours from the safety of the deck of a 47-foot boat. Also involved is a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), a scaled-down model of the underwater-camera-wielding machine that researchers used to explore the Titanic. The ROV will broadcast scenes from as deep as 300 feet onto a 50-inch plasma screen television in the boat’s air-conditioned cabin. The two have more than 10 years of commercial experience operating ROVs and will offer tours of shipwrecks, coral reefs and caves around Peter, Salt, Norman and other islands. Mr. Cowan said, "The camera can get down into nooks and crannies. As it doesn’t make any noise, fish are quite curious about it. I had a case in Africa where an octopus hooked up on it." Good Luck to these two – this venture should be something we can all enjoy.

ROYAL NAVY ENJOYS TORTOLA

Recently the UK Royal Navy warship, the Duke, stopped for R & R on a 3-day rest in Tortola. The Duke is on a five-month deployment throughout the Caribbean and arrived from more strenuous missions around the region. During visits to Puerto Rico and Barbados, the ship’s 190-member crew took part in training, relief missions and hurricane preparedness drills. In the event of a hurricane in the region, the HMS Duke would likely be first to respond.

"We carry a considerable amount of stores and equipment that could be extremely useful in the event of a major hurricane," Lt. Commander Watson says. "We conducted a lot of training before we left and we feel that we’ve got many highly-trained, highly-motivated individuals that could be first on the ground, before the non-governmental organizations got there." It’s nice to know that this ship is cruising around and could assist us—Kudos to the Royal Navy.

BOAT SAFETY AND FIRES

Two men were hospitalised after a 28-foot power boat caught fire one Sunday evening at Fat Hog’s Bay. Michael Potter and Keon Edwards were both on board the dry-docked vessel when an explosion occurred in its interior compartment, according to BVI Fire and Rescue Services officials.

"They were cleaning the fluid tank; they removed the fluid tank cover in the morning, and in the afternoon they were cleaning the vessel with a vacuum cleaner," said BVI Fire and Rescue Services Department Officer William Penn. "An explosion took place which could have resulted from the naked flame within the vacuum cleaner connecting with fumes that were in its presence."

One fire engine and 12 firefighters responded to the call at 6:41 p.m. When they arrived, they found flames already engulfing the interior compartment of the vessel. They were able to extinguish the fire within four minutes, according to Mr. Penn. Mr. Potter and Mr. Edwards were taken to Peebles Hospital in Road Town. A hospital official said that both men were in stable condition the following Tuesday afternoon. The fire severely damaged the interior of the boat, which belonged to Mr. Potter, Mr. Penn said.

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