Foxy’s Tamarind Bar on Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands was part of the inspiration for the Smoky Drinky Bar. It set up a webcam back in June, and you could watch a live feed. It became my Caribbean bar. Last night I learned from its website that it had gone.
Reports from JVD are scant, but the word is that the physical building that was Foxy’s is gone — taken by Hurricane Irma, along with about most all of the buildings.
No surprise, really. It wasn’t any sort of substantial structure at all.
Most of the columns holding up the roof were branches of trees. And maybe the palm trees growing up through its roof added a bit of lateral stability. Maybe that central pyramidal tiled roof needed a bit more support. I don’t know why it was needed.
The entire structure looked like a UK smoking shelter, open on all sides. When I started watching its live webcam feed, it was to see whether anyone was smoking. I only ever saw one person smoking at the bar, and it looked like he was trying to keep his cigarette out of sight. But there were ashtrays on the tables. And I didn’t see any No Smoking signs.
The only substantial thing about the building was its floor platform, which looked like it was built of concrete on stone walls. When the 200 mph hurricane winds in the eye wall of Irma came through, they probably blew the roof straight into the sea a few yards to the south. And the accompanying 12 foot storm surge would have taken away whatever was left.
It seemed to me quite likely that, when Foxy and his staff got back after Irma had passed over, they’d have found a bare concrete platform, with just a few stumps of trees and branches sticking out of it. Everything else – bar, tables, stools, bottles, glasses – would be gone.
But maybe not. They had several days notice of the arrival of Irma, during which time business would have fallen off to round about zero, given that most of its customers seem to have arrived on boats, and most of those boats had probably fled to safety. So Foxy and his staff would have had several days to remove all the tables and stools and bottles and glasses.
And put them where? Inside the floor platform, under the concrete floor. The storm surge would probably have filled the interior, soaking everything. But bottles of whisky and cans of beer, and glasses and ashtrays, would have survived being soaked. They’re being soaked all the time, after all.
Perhaps that was always the business strategy: Build a flimsy structure on a solid base, and let it blow away, and then replace it quickly with another flimsy structure.
So it was a happy thought, that Foxy’s might have already re-opened, as an open air bar, complete with tables and chairs and glasses and beer and whisky. Maybe there’d even be an open air barbecue. Everything sold cash only, at high prices, because they didn’t know when the next alcohol shipment would arrive.
But there’d probably be no customers. Because most of their customers boats had been sunk or damaged. And since most of them were motorboats (click to enlarge right), fuel was probably unobtainable for those that remained. The only boats that can get around the British Virgin Islands right now are probably sailing boats.
And the tourists won’t be back any time soon. Who wants to visit an island denuded of trees? How long does it take palm trees to grow?
Common palm tree generally takes 4-6 years to grow from seed to its highest.
So it’ll probably take 4-6 years before the tourists are around in any numbers. And even if they survived Irma, most bars will have a fraction of the number of customers they used to have. So there’ll soon be a fraction of the number of bars.
There’ll probably be an exodus from these hurricane-damaged islands. Many people will move to other islands. Or leave the islands forever.
Jost Van Dyke is quite a large island, about 6 km by 2.5 km, but it only has about 300 inhabitants. And many of them were probably sustained by the tourist trade that has now vanished. So if Foxy’s Tamarind Bar has already re-opened, it’ll probably close again soon.
And the only people who’ll be happy about that will be the filth in Tobacco Control and Alcohol Control, who hate all these bars anyway, and would like to see them all close. James Repace said that it needed “tornado winds” to make rooms safe from secondhand smoke. Well, lots of bars in the Caribbean just got hurricane winds that didn’t just empty them of secondhand smoke, but completely blew them away.