At the beginning of the week, Invest 96, which became Hurricane Earl as it passed over Belize, barely gave us any rain. The experts had predicted Invest 97 would break apart due to dry winds and high pressure, but it decided to re-organize itself, and we’re getting a much needed soaking. It was pretty good timing actually as the water pump on the excavator decided to give up on Thursday morning. Of course, there is no John Deere dealer on St. John or St. Thomas, and the dealer in Puerto Rico has gone out of business.
As is the way of the island, you figure it out. The Marines say, “Improvise, adapt and over come.”. On this island, it is what we do on a daily basis.
It just so happens our oldest son is coming down with his wife and their friends from Philadelphia on Saturday.
After a quick call to a John Deere dealer in Philadelphia yesterday to locate the parts, my son swung by early this morning, picked them up and will personally escort the water pump by plane tomorrow morning. The storm should pass by late Saturday evening, and we’ll be ready to replace the parts and get rolling again on Sunday.
The top entrance looks great and we’ve hauled away some excess dirt and graded the 4/10’s of a mile of unpaved Bordeaux Road (108) which connects us to Centerline Road and shaves about 20 minutes off of a trip to Cruz Bay, aka “town”. We now have easy access from Coral Bay via fully paved Constanza Road and from Chateau Bordeaux off of Centerline road. Our trucks can now get our initial load of steel (20 tons), forming wood, a storage container and other materials on site with ease. We have also scored a few “good neighbor” points as folks on both sides of the dirt road have a much smoother ride to Coral Bay or back to town (Cruz Bay).
Prior to the water pump on the excavator giving out, we continued to make good progress and have hammered out some beautiful blue bitch basalt which will work well for our stone work projects. Blue bitch is extremely dense and is caused by slowly melting magma near the earth’s surface. The Bath’s are an excellent example of this as they are formed by what is known as a batholith. Stone Mountain in Georgia is also formed from a batholith. After speaking with Wayne, who has a wealth of experience with the rock, they appear as egg type structures with the outer portion breaking apart fairly easily and producing nice building stone. However, as you hammer deeper into a given formation, the rock becomes incredibly dense and you can use the excavator hammer for an entire day and only manage a small pile of fist sized stones. We’ll see if this is our fate for certain sections of the site, but as of now, it has been manageable.
We’ll be using the future parking pad for the “tower” house for material storage and as soon as we’re done cutting the driveway to the upper 1BR villa, we’ll begin excavating one of the first two villas.
I’ve highlighted below the area we have excavated to date. Wayne started the project at the bottom of the lot, located at the top of the following picture, where an existing excavation had been done many years ago. He then quickly proceeded up the face of the lot in order to get to the top driveway where he could excavate from the inside, moving out toward the main road. As you can see, he passed over the building envelopes of several of the structures in order to preserve trees, and begin excavation of the top driveway with a minimum of disturbance to the flora.
The “Material Storage” on the preceding map is where the following picture was taken yesterday.
If all goes well, we should be excavating one of the top villas and have all our materials in place to begin work forming the first villa footings by the end of the week.
We have also identified our temporary power location and should have power available this week, too! Of course, the view opened up a bit more for us… This is Tortola. It is impossible to capture the expanse of the view from here, but I will continue to try.
Here’s a picture of my friend Aaron and me at the top entrance…
Have a great weekend everyone!