05 February 2008

did we forget to tell you about Buck Island?

Dear Mr. Tutein,

I am writing concerning the conduct of M/Y Shalimar and to complain about the absence of action by the National Park Service during the weekend of January 25-27, 2008 at Buck Island National Park. Over the course of the weekend the captain and crew of the boat paid no regard to the other boats using the anchorage and as such violated two stated regulations of the National Park Service for Buck Island and put the safety of other boats in jeopardy.

We arrived in our 27' sailboat at Buck Island around noon on Friday, the 25th and anchored about 100 feet away from a catamaran. A few hours later, Shalimar arrived and proceeded to, in a sense, parallel park in between our 27' sailboat and the catamaran. They set their bow anchor and then backed up to shore in between our boats where they set a stern anchor to the beach. The anchoring guidelines set out by the National Park Service for Buck Island allow this type of "stern to the beach" anchoring only for small boats under 20 feet. At 118 feet, M/Y Shalimar definitely does not fit into the "small boat" category.

The wind was blowing from the NE so their boat was receiving the wind on it's beam, making us and the catamaran quite nervous. All other boats in the anchorage were anchored with a bow anchor and pointing into the wind. My husband went over to Shalimar to enquire as to how long they planned on remaining anchored like that and also pointed out how close their boat was to ours. Without any sort of acknowledgment to the situation they had put us in, they stated that they would be there until Monday and the owner demanded they anchor in this fashion or the crew would lose their jobs. The wind shifted and it became apparent that unless we took action, the stern of M/Y Shalimar would swing into our sailboat. We pulled up our anchor and moved as far away from Shalimar as we could. In over a year of sailing from Maryland to the Virgin Islands, this is the first time we have ever had to move anchor because another boat came too close and also refused to move when a dangerous situation developed. The captain and his crew acted very negligently, dangerously and irresponsibly putting both our boat and their boat in danger.

In addition, Shalimar ran their generators all night long disturbing both the atmosphere for the other boaters and breaking park policy. The anchoring guidelines clearly state that generator use should be kept to a minimum since Buck Island is a National Park and nesting ground for endangered brown pelicans and sea turtles.

On Saturday night we were enjoying dinner on a friend's boat when the crew of Shalimar repositioned their stern anchor and consequently placed the stern of their boat a mere 25 yards from our friend's boat. Not only did this ruin the ambience by filling our friend's cockpit with diesel fumes and floodlighting, it was just plain unsafe for a boat the size of Shalimar to be anchored so close to another boat. We tried hailing them on the VHF repeatedly and when we did not receive an answer, we had to resort to using the air horn to get their attention. Needless to say, that worked. I went over to Shalimar and pointed out the proximity of the two boats and requested that they take action to change their position. The crew treated me rather rudely and stated that they moved the boat so the owner could receive a better satellite reception for his TV. Nonetheless, they did finally move the boat.

Apparently, the crew of Shalimar receives complaints every weekend at Buck Island from other boaters. We were told the National Park Service already has a file of complaints on the conduct of Shalimar and that the owner simply places a call to the Governor's office and the National Park Service turns a blind eye to this type of conduct.

In light of this, I would ask that the National Park Service place stronger anchoring restrictions for Buck Island, similar to those on St. John. The south side of St. John has mooring buoys that are only available to boats of 60 feet or less and the north side has specific mooring buoys for large motor yachts. The owner, captain and crew of M/Y Shalimar ruined the weekend for a number of boats that went to Buck Island to enjoy the nature and scenery of this National Park. After that weekend, I am reluctant to return to Buck Island and I am discouraging other boaters to visit the island on a weekend.

I look forward to your response and to hear what the National Park Service plans on doing to prevent this type of situation from happening again.


Kristen Miller
s/v Whisper


Anonymous said...

Bra jobbat Kristen

Karin & Roger

Anonymous said...

M/Y Shalimar apparently has a telephone in London, there maybe something that can be done.

Anonymous said...

Give me a break, don't you have anything better to complain about. You are obviously a jealous person who feels that just because someone has a large yacht that they shouldn't use Buck Island. Get over it as the boat is hardly ever in St.Croix as it and they have every right to use the National Park Service. Try to embrace the Caribbean and the beautiful M/Y Shalimar and quit your bitching or better yet go back to the states on your little sailboat you "Whiner"!!!

Anonymous said...

Interesting, but misguided.

So small boats are allowed to anchor all weekend wherever they want but larger ones are not because they "ruin" the atmosphere? I have seen Shalimar and think its a beautiful boat to look at, as do many others that actually live here in St Croix.

We who live here in St Croix don't have an issue with Shalimar being at Buck Island, so maybe the issue is with your misguided presumption that a small sailboat sailed by people who havent been to Buck Island before "knows" what is best for Buck Island. Boats of all sizes use Buck Island reguarly, not just small sailboats, including powerboats, yachts, etc. In addition, Shalimar is often used as a fundraiser for local charities. What do you do for St Croix?

Regarding backanchoring, the snorkel charters also backanchor into the beach, and they are larger than 20 feet. They also carry 40 or so people and wouldnt be called "pretty", but they are a fact of life. Most other powerboats there back anchor, and they are all over 20 feet. I think you are just not familiar with Buck Island and how the locals use their park.

Also, did Shalimar actually move? I would think that 2 anchors (or more) keeping it from swinging takes up a lot less room than having it swinging around on a single bow anchor. In addition, large boats commanded by a professional crew often park close to one another without incident. The issue must be your lack of experience with larger, well run boats. When you get to St. Maarten and St. Barts you will understand, as there are dozens of such boats there.

Finally, so to preserve the ambience you used an air horn at night? Why didnt you just motor over there instead? Seems like you all are the ones causing the disturbance. We have been at Buck Island when Shalimar is there at night and it makes no more noise than most of the other boats that are there.

I suggest that you just dont like large boats and are trying to cause an issue where none exists. When do you leave again? You promised not to come back right? We don't need folks who don't understand our island ruining it for the rest of us.

Amy said...

Clearly the "anonymous" people are bought off like the local government there. I'd say good riddance to the place MONEY talks apparently


AMY (not an anonymous writer)

KATE said...

Their letter brought to light a few salient points regarding the enforcement of existing regulations. They crafted their letter in a narrative fashion, a style that by its nature includes reflections on a series of events. Agree or disagree with those reflections, there is still a practical reason for writing to officials when regulations have been broken, and suggestions are not impudent.

It is normal for business establishments to receive comments from their patrons on their experiences. Comments can range from complaints about dirty bathrooms, thanks for helpful service, to compliments on the general ambiance. Obviously one customer's experience is often very different from another's.

Lastly, debates about mooring policies, sailing etiquette, whatever, are probably par for the course. I am positive this is not the first time the differences between small and big boats have become an issue. Assumptions about their intentions, feelings, or motives are presumptuous, unnecessarily offensive, and reflect -- I'm sure -- the unwelcoming atmosphere that Kristen and Hans encountered in St. Croix. They are entitled to their opinions, and can express them how they see fit. Disagreements are fine; insults are childish.

Debate the issues, not the people.

diesel mechanic Pete said...

Myself living near the Canadian border, not ever having even stepped foot in the Carribbean/ Buck Island find it interesting that one anonymous writer states: "The boat Shalimar, is hardly ever at Buck Island", and the next anonymous writer states: "Shalimar is often used as a fundraiser for local charities".

I'm interested to have explained to me what a chartered luxury boat exactly does do for local charity on the island of St Croix, which the majority of its economy is tourism.

Secondly there was no mention about a back anchor in the posting, but supposedly the second anonymous writer felt they should just throw that comment in for reference. And yes the crew did try numerous attempts to make contact with the vessel Shalimar, as noted on VHF radio ban prior to resulting to an air horn use.

If your going to post comments that are false and manipulated, and you don't have the balls to publicly state your name then your comments, and banter are worthless and are full of s--t.


Joe Hollins said...

I like the diversity that large and small boats bring to Buck Island. I have had fun on the small ones and the large ones including swinging from the top deck of the Shalimar into the water. I was born and raised on St. Croix and I welcome everyone to enjoy her resources no matter how rich or how poor, how big or how small.

Joe Hollins