I wanted to shake up my life and go sailing (or learn on the job, so-to-speak) so headed to Florida to crew on a catamaran. This is about how it went or, rather, didn't - and my life since. Hopefully it will lead to a catamaran on the clear aqua blue waters of the Caribbean Sea, watching the sunset, a coconut rum and coke in hand. You must START AT THE BEGINNING of the blog, April 2009, to get the whole story...

Sunday, October 21, 2012


Back in May of 2011, when I took a month-log trip to the BVI, I spent more than half of my time in those beautiful islands on Anegada. I wrote a post about a long walk I took along the beach from where I was staying, Neptune's Treasure, to Cow Wreck Beach. Along the way, I came across the West End Cottages that were being claimed by the sea, due to Sea Grape trees being removed from the property* a few years earlier. If you go to that post, you will see photos I took of the ruined cottages.

In the year and a half since I took that trip, the dredging of sand so close to shore, in a futile effort to shore up the doomed cottages, has had devastating effects on the beaches to the east of the West End, on the North shore of the island, to as far as Cow Wreck Beach and perhaps further. My friend posts many pictures of Cow Wreck and it's easy to see what has happened to what was once a beautiful, wide, white-sand beach at Cow Wreck.

Cow Wreck before the erosion

Cow Wreck now

These pictures are of the exact same piece of beach, you can see the shadow of the only few palm trees at Cow Wreck in the 'before' pic.

Directly east of the dredging, on the north side of the island, the devastation is immense. I walked this beach in 2011 and it looked nothing like it looks now. When I was there it was wide white sand on a gentle incline from the vegetation to the sea. There was a lovely shallow swimming spot and it was like being in a swimming pool. That is now gone and the water is very deep. The erosion is right up to the vegetation and trees have begun to fall. The coral that makes up the foundation of the entire island is now exposed. That was not visible before at all.

The pictures below are of the this beach, just different perspectives. Unfortunately, I didn't take a photo of the beach from the perspective of the second pic or you would really see the difference. But trust me, it is profoundly different.

The beach immediately to the east of dredging BEFORE it eroded

The beach immediately to the east of the dredging, on the North Shore as it looks now

After seeing the pictures, I felt compelled to write to the owners of the West End Cottages property to voice my frustration and concern as to what their futile efforts have wrought on the island. Below you will see the conversation, and their response which is filled with half-truths and lies:

Sandra MontgomeryWest End Cottages Anegada
18 hours ago near North Vancouver ·
Have you taken stock of the massive damage to the beautiful beaches of Anegada your fruitless recovery attempt has done? Those cottages are NOT saved. No, they are not in the sea where they might have ended up, but they are broken and useless and need to be demolished. Meanwhile, the beach - all the way past Cow Wreck, is eroded and trees have fallen down. Go take a walk down to Cow Wreck and look at the erosion and the roots of the palm trees all exposed. By next summer, those lovely trees will be down as well if you don't STOP this folly. You are destroying the environment of what was a very beautiful and mostly unspoiled island. It is criminal.

West End Cottages Anegada Hi Sandra, we thought about deleting your comment because of it's ignorance but instead we are going to take this opportunity to use it to educate you and any other "experts" out there.

The western half of Anegada is almost entirely a giant sand bar made of sand while the eastern half is almost entirely coral. That said, over time, the coastline of Anegada is in a constant state of flux. In your short lifetime and in your even shorter time of visiting Anegada you might not realize that the coastline changes. This is very well documented over 100 years and continues to be studied. The BVI government has a new development plan in the works for entire island of Anegada that recognizes this and proposes a 200ft set back from the sea on future developments. What is happening to the beach at Cow Wreck is the same thing that happened to our property and is the same thing that is happening at other properties all over the island.

Additionally, our project is a multi year effort which is not complete. The first phases have beenbefforts to stabilize the beach which have been successful and the next phase is to stabilize, the effected cottages and make them habitable again for future enjoyment. To unnecessarily demolish them without trying to rescue them would truly be a waste. For the record, out of the 7 cottages on thenproperty, 3 were completely unaffected by erosion and are used regularly, 3 will be rescued and one was demolished.

The next phase after that will be to landscape the property and make it more beautifulnthan it has ever been.

Just like you, we love Anegada. This property was purchased out of love, in it's darkest hour, with half of it in the sea and everyone saying that it could not be saved. Well, through miraculous effort and two years of blood sweat and tears by all involved, we have kept this property from becoming a disaster zone in one of the most beautiful places on earth. The project is still not complete so of course it doesn't look finished.
Now that you have this information about the property and the natural forces that shape the island, I hope you will look at things differently the next time on Anegada.

Sandra Montgomery This is such a lie. The beach at the West End Cottages only began to erode after the Sea Grapes** growing there were removed by the owners of the property... THEN it eroded. As for the erosion down the beach from you to Cow Wreck - this has not happened over years of time. It began almost as soon as you began dredging and has continued at an alarming rate - it has taken less than 18 months for the beach to be reduced... AND the beaches between you and Neptunes Treasure are now the widest that residents have seen in many years. This is due to sand lost from the pump-out drifting with the current and resting there... also taken less than 18 months for it to happen. And you say this is natural - just a coincidence that it occurred at the same time as you began dredging?

Kimberly Francis · 2 mutual friends
If they removed the (sea grapes) then they are guilty of disturbing the natural environment period

Sandra Montgomery Also, out of seven cottages, only one was completely unaffected. Two were in good shape. The other FIVE were severely affected. I walked through that property in May of '11 and saw this with my own eyes and have the pictures to prove it.

West End Cottages Anegada This is really getting to be a little much. You really should do some research and stop relying on hearsay of you are going to post things like this.

The prevailing current on the north coast of Anegada flows from Cow Wreck towards the West End. Not the other way. (let me just interject here that this proves my point; of course the sand would be removed from the north coast if the current flows from there to the West End - a point I made later on their FB page that resulted in them banning me) That entire portion of the coast has been eroding for many years as evidenced by what has happened on the west end. Do you think the erosion was only on our property and not on either side or anywhere else?

As far as the buildup on the Neptune side, what happens in the summer and spring months the wind blows from a more southerly direction which builds sand up on that side of the property since there is many square miles of shallow sand area and no barrier reef to block the sand flow. In the winter, which is approaching, the beach will shrink again. At the same time, more sand will be replaced on the cow wreck side and at cow wreck as the winter currents flow. The entire coastline changes constantly. When one area builds up another shrinks. This is a process that has happened for thousands of years. You are only noticing what has happened in a very small snapshot of time.

For example, construction on sandbars in north Carolina an Florida face the same issues. People built on property that may not be there in another few thousand years. So let's enjoy it while we can. We hope that you will be able to enjoy the beaches of Anegada with the rest of us in peace.

Additionaly, There are no mangroves on that entire part of the coastline as that is not their native environment. We have not removed any plants from the property at any time either.

West End Cottages Anegada As for your last post, thank you for admitting to illegally trespassing on our property on Facebook.

That's funny you have this documentation, if you you look through our photos on our page you will see the interiors of the three cottages currently in use.

Anything else you would like to say?

Sandra Montgomery I was walking from Neptunes to Cow Wreck along the beach. The only way to continue that walk, when vegetation grew down into the water rendering the beach impassable, was to cut down a small road and then through your property. A long-time resident of the island told me to walk that way and to ignore the signs saying otherwise. So I did.

And the changes in beach that you claim are seasonal have never happened until you started dredging. The beach at Cow Wreck has never been so low that the roots of the palm trees were exposed until now. There are mature trees between you and Cow Wreck that have fallen down. Are you claiming THAT happens every year?

Sandra Montgomery And YOU may not have removed any plants from the property at any time, but the previous owner DID.

West End Cottages Anegada Have a blessed day...

And so that is all they have to say about my final points. Not surprising.

I also wrote to Orlando Smith, the Premier of the BVI, to voice my concerns. He replied today with assurances that he had no idea this was happening and that he would "ask the Town and Country Planning Department to look into it as well as make the Minister of Natural Resources aware." I was very pleased with this reply until I found out that a Minister in the BVI government is (allegedly) a part owner of the company that is doing the dredging. Talk about a conflict of interest!! If that was happening here, it would be all over the news and there would be a huge backlash. But, apparently, that is the way in the islands and no one is surprised by it.

I am so sad and frustrated. I am sure my feelings are miniscule compared to those make their home there. They see the devastation every day they walk out onto the beaches. If I lived there, I don't know how I would handle it.

Taken in July 2012, just a few months ago. And the owners claim that the operation has been a success.

*Although I never saw the property, or pictures of the property, with the Sea Grapes there; I do have it on good authority from several sources that indeed there were Sea Grapes and that they were removed by the previous owner. If I can obtain photos of the area before the removal, I will share them with you on a future post.

**Earlier I wrote that the vegetation removed were mangroves. This was due to information I received from those who saw it before it was removed.

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