Green Musings of an Eco Resort

Monday, January 30, 2012

Maho Bay Hermit Crab Report

Soren & Max visited with us here at Maho last week and created "The Hermit Crab Project" - a video & learning experience about hermit crabs. They interviewed hermit crab "experts" - Maho Bay Staff! - with Ben, Laura & Lance all getting their 5 minutes of fame. Their excitement with exploring and understanding something new is fascinating, and their ability to retain information almost word for word about something they enjoyed learning is fun to see.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Annaberg School Gets Cleaned Up!

The St. John Historical Society recently cleaned up the Annaberg School ruins which are just around the corner from us! Be sure to check it out on your way to/from Waterlemon.

"Nearly 20 members of the St. John Historical Society donated more than 40 volunteer hours in the V.I. National Park on Saturday, January 14. Members wielded machetes, clippers and weed whackers in an effort to clear the brush from the Annaberg School, one of the most significant historic sites on St. John. VINP interns Aleta McKeage and Casey Durchholz were also on hand to assist in the clearing.The Annaberg School was established in 1839 to educate the children of enslaved workers on St. John. Beginning in 1983, the SJHS logged 1,700 hours of volunteer time over three years to clear and stabilize the site and has continued its stewardship ever since."

Sunday, January 22, 2012

one man's trash is another man's........profit?

When living in the islands you tend to become a little disconnected from the news and current trends. By the last day of vacation most are very curious as to what they've "missed" for news over the past week while at Maho, just imagine how much those of us that have been here over the entire winter have "missed!"

Maybe we don't have time for it or maybe it just doesn't fit our current lifestyle: all the snorkeling, swimming, beaching, boating, hiking, sailing, and diving that we do - where would catching up on the 2012 election fit in that schedule? wait, is this even an election year?

For the past year or so we've been collecting used fryer oil and burning it when firing our pottery kiln. The setup and idea is great: burn something abundant and something all restaurants are paying to get rid of on St. John, and do so in a cool way: creating pottery! I mean, who else has a vegetable fired pottery kiln? So when guests ask us questions like "why would someone be crazy enough to just 'give' you their old vegetable cooking oil, people pay a premium and even steal the stuff from restaurants in the states" we tend to look confused. Apparently used fryer oil is in high demand! - well that's news to us! The NY Times article is very interesting, especially for those of us that didn't know stealing vegetable oil is now a serious business, costing some restaurant chains millions each year.

Pictured below is our wood kiln (retrofitted!) for oil burning. Oil used for the firing come from us, as well as other St. John restaurants. The kiln is fitted with 4 burners (like the 2 pictured), which help it reach the 2,300 degrees needed for each firing.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

sand scupture Sundays

Each week here at Maho Bay we host a sand castle building contest for our guests. This tends to be most popular with the kids, though we don't discriminate based on age! The contest starts each Sunday at 10am and runs until noon, at which time the judging begins. By the looks of some of the castles pictured here with such attention to detail and quality you'd have to believe the prizes are quite substantial, and they are: 1st prize each week is desert from our restaurant for each of the winners, retail value of $6.00 each!

Max & Soren won last Sunday for their hermit crab castle (pictured above).

Sunday, January 15, 2012

things that go bump in the night

The last couple of nights here at Maho we've been hearing strange noises between the hours of 8pm and 5am. Those of us living in staff section and guests staying in upper "E" section have been listening to very loud "thumps" randomly every 5-30 seconds or so, the sound of what could be a faulty screen door? perhaps the wind blowing a roll-down against wood? a pirate with a peg-leg dancing on the boardwalks? The actual culprit? Bats! Lots of Bats!

When daylight broke yesterday morning everyone living under the large Genip tree in staff section found their tents and boardwalk covered in half-eaten genips! While genips are certainly tasty and fun to eat, nobody could have eaten as many as we found along the boardwalk and ground. It must have been the work of "fruit bats," as we have now named them. This was confirmed last night, as the original bats told all of their friends about the wonderful genips to be had in upper staff section, resulting in a whole colony of bats setting up shop eating the ripe genips. This wouldn't be so troubling if when they ate the fruit they were considerate enough to drop the seed on the ground. Instead the seeds keep falling on our boardwalks, creating quite a noise.

One possible solution this morning was to cut down all the fruit in the tree, but there was a slight problem: the tree is huge and towers over the entire area with thousands of little genip fruits. Guess we'll have to wait until the fruit is no longer to their liking, or they finish the entire fruit in the tree!

Pictured above is a genip seed on the railing, with the outer shell peeled off, below on the boardwalk is a sampling of what we dealt with this morning.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

good deeds for the day

Donny, one of our maintenance crew members here at Maho, took it upon himself to do something really neat for us on his day off today: pick up trash!

Starting at Maho he decided to walk down the driveway, jumping into the woods now and then to grab the stray bottle or plastic bag that had drifted out of sight. The driveway itself is shared by many, not just us here at Maho - The National Park Service has a house near our property, along with 5 different houses and villas. But regardless of how much traffic there is on the road, it still boggles my mind how trash actually arrives on the road to begin with.

By the end of the driveway Donny had collected 3 bags of trash, 1 car battery (really?!), and a couple of steel poles.

The next time you see Donny around Maho buy him a beer and say thanks! (but make sure it's while he's off the clock!).

Monday, January 9, 2012

@Work: Sail Pepper

Each Sunday one of our local newspapers does a feature/interview with someone here in the islands about their work and life. It's a piece that has become a favorite of mine over the years each Sunday, and this past week we were pleasantly surprised to see two faces very familiar to us here at Maho: Fred Renner & Renee Proctor, otherwise known as "The Peppers."

Fred & Renee love to have a laugh and make people laugh, so I thought for sure we'd see one of their classic jokes within the piece. Those of you that have sailed with them before know what I'm talking about.......try asking them what they did before doing charters the next time you're out with them and I guarantee it will be something different than what was in the interview. My favorite? Renee: "I used to work in an orange juice factory, but I got canned because I couldn't concentrate." With Fred adding: "Oh, I thought you were squeezed out?"

For more of their lighthearted humor (and better jokes!) you'll have to sail with them yourselves this season here at Maho.

For a preview of the couple you'll be sailing with and their "job" check out the article here.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Lonely Planet top 10 US travel destinations

The U.S. Virgin Islands recently received the top spot among the 10 U.S. travel destinations that should be on your radar in 2012. Even better is their mention of us!

"In a year when travelers are apt to still be watching their wallets, this is our #1 choice for an American tropical getaway. It’s eternally 80 degrees, rimmed with white-sand beaches on turquoise water, and, yes, it’s a US territory."

To see the list: Top 10 US travel destinations for 2012

Local article about the list: St. John Source

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Exciting New Maho Bay Clayworks Classes Kicking Off in January (Tradewinds article 1/2/2012)

Ready to get those hands dirty and learn something new for the New Year?

Look no further than Maho Bay Clayworks where owner Gail Van de Bogurt is kicking off three new exciting classes this month geared for each skill level, from true beginner to advanced.

Saturday, January 7, is the first class in the new “Sculpting the Figure from Life in Terra Cotta” series, being led by well-known St. John painter Les Anderson. While many residents are familiar with Anderson’s realistic portraits and vivid Caribbean landscape paintings, this is the first time the East End artist will be leading a class in clay.

“Les has been coming to the Clay Studio for a while now and working on a bunch of different projects,” said Van de Bogurt. “He brings his knowledge of art, art history, the human figure and anatomy to the clay studio for this class which features a live model. This is a great opportunity to work with a very experienced artist with a wonderful understanding of anatomy.”

“He loves the human figure and has a great understanding about it,” she said. “It’s really fun to work with Les.”
Participants will ideally have some experience with clay and figure drawing, Van de Bogurt added.

“First of all to work with a live model you have to have a certain level of maturity,” she said. “And it would be really helpful if people had some experience with clay and drawing the human figure. It will be really hard to start completely from scratch for this class.”

Van de Bogurt is hoping to attract some local artists who may not have worked much with terra cotta, she explained.

“We’d like to attract some artists like Les who normally work two dimensionally,” she said. “Many of the great artists in the past, like Degas and Picasso, worked in clay and bronze and different three dimensional materials. It would be a great class for artists.”

Anderson’s figure class, with assistance by Van de Bogurt, starts on Saturday, January 7, and runs for four Saturdays. Each class will meet from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Maho Bay Camps pottery studio. The class fee is $250 which includes materials, firing and four additional open studio sessions.

For those with no experience with clay, mark those calendars for Tuesday, January 10, when Kaye Thomas will start a four session Potter’s Wheel for Beginners. The class will meet from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. over the next four Tuesdays and students will learn the basics of the pottery wheel.

“The class will cover centering and making tumblers, mugs with handles and bowls on the potter’s wheel,” said Van de Bogurt. “It’s geared totally for beginners and students will learn all of the steps to make stoneware they can actually take home and use.”

The tuition cost is $200, which includes clay, glaze, firing and four open studio sessions in addition to the classes.
Anyone interested in true fine art recycling will not want to miss Van de Bogurt’s special four day workshop on Vegetable Oil Firing. Maho Bay Campground’s dedication to recycling inspired resident “technical wizard” Dan Kreofsky to construct a kiln burner capable of firing stoneware pottery operating on used vegetable oil from local restaurants, explained Van de Bogurt.

“Dan designed a burner made of plastic pipes and things you can pick up right at the hardware store which uses compressed air and used vegetable oil to fire the kiln,” she said. “The great thing about it is that it has a much smaller carbon footprint and doesn’t produce as many carbons as burning wood for the firing. And it’s a great way to recycle used vegetable oil.”

Van de Bogurt and Kreofsky used 60 gallons of used veggie oil from Cruz Bay restaurants to fire their first trial and watched as the temperature rose to over 2,340 degrees, according to the Maho Bay Clayworks owner.

The workshop runs from January 18 through 21 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and costs $200. Participants will learn about burner design, ideal glazing, kiln loading decisions and hands-on oil firing. There will also be a firing party and kiln unloading, set for January 23.

Veggie Oil workshop students should bring their bisque ware, or once fired pieces, to be glazed and fired. For more information on any of the classes or to register call Maho Bay Camps activity desk at 776-6226, extension 212, or call Van de Bogurt at 514-6594.

Monday, January 2, 2012

We've been seeing a lot more of these planes sitting at our airport on St. Thomas lately, which is a good thing! Most who have flown Jet Blue have great things to say about the company, whether it's their friendly attitude or in-flight tv options, they just seem to do air travel the way air travel should be; friendly, comfortable, and stress-free. Heck, their motto is "you above all."

Most of you in the New England area should know by now that Jet Blue has recently added a direct flight from Boston. A quick check today for flights in February revealed some pretty good deals for those of you freezing in Boston today: departing Friday February 3rd and returning on Sunday February 12th (why stay just 7 days?) was a total of $442 with taxes, 1st bag flying free, and it's direct! And did we mention it's on Jet Blue? Doesn't get much better than that.