SEAPLANE SERVICE IS COMING TO VIRGIN GORDA
In great news for those who live on Virgin Gorda – the BVI Legislative Council recently stated that it is investing $536,454 to accommodate regular seaplane traffic at Gunn Creek, North Sound. The new seaplane terminal is part of government’s plan to increase tourism to Virgin Gorda. According to BVI Chief Minister, Dr. Orlando Smith, "One of the primary items on our tourism agenda is that of seeking to expand the number of available airline seats into the territory with special emphasis on Virgin Gorda. This project is being undertaken through the Chief Minister’s Office with the assistance of the BVI Tourist Board.” Dr. Smith added that government has reached an agreement that would see Seaborne Airlines provide regular service to Virgin Gorda.
Government plans call for the existing pier at Gunn Creek to be outfitted with a floating pontoon, which is being provided by Seaborne Airlines. Further plans include an expansion of the visitor center and space for Customs and Immigration officials. The upgrades are expected to be complete before the tourist season. Seaborne Airlines is based out of St. Croix and owns a fleet of seven deHavilland Twin Otter seaplanes with a capacity of about 19 passengers each.
FERRY CAPTAINS GO THROUGH FIRE DRILLS
In a program aimed at better equipping ferry captains to deal with disasters at sea, the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College has been drilling captains in negotiating smoke-filled chambers at the college. The captains underwent fire training as part of a course designed to bring them up to speed with international regulations. Using what they had been studying in the classroom in a live-action exercise, captains donned oxygen tanks, masks, helmets and protective clothing, as they performed search and rescue missions.
"This is a realistic scenario of what could happen," said Captain Quader Forkanul, a representative of the UK Maritime Coast Guard, who was in the territory overseeing the training. To simulate a vessel, three cargo containers were welded together, and passageways, like those found on a vessel, were constructed.
Giving the captains a realistic taste of what they might encounter during a real emergency at sea, material was placed inside and lit on fire. Twelve captains from the BVI ferry companies were undergoing training. Captain Baboucar Sallah, director of the Shipping Registry of the Financial Services Commission, said the model will be used in future courses, and that the training will ultimately make the captains better able to react to emergencies at sea.
TRELLIS BAY JETTY IS UNDER RECONSTRUCTION
The Trellis Bay Jetty is used by fishermen to land their catch and also serves residents and guests of many sister islands including Virgin Gorda, Marina Cay, Great Camanoe, Guana Island and Anegada as there are no other such public facilities on the eastern end of Tortola. It is owned and maintained by the Government and presently accommodates boat passengers and cargo. The contract, for just over $149,000 with Road Runner Construction, a local contractor, includes demolition of the old dock and construction of a larger, L-shaped jetty in its space. This project is expected to be completed before the winter tourist season and will be highly welcomed as Trellis Bay is now one of the foremost tourist destinations in the BVI. As this area is an important location for on-going arts programs within the BVI, it is great to see that youngsters from the outer islands will now be able to attend workshops offered there. This new jetty will be a great addition for us all.