Sailtaire Aerail Photo

The Story of Saltaire

Many vessels sheltered from Hurricane Irma and Maria in the bay called Cruz Bay Creek, which is located in front of the Visitor center, across from Mongoose Junction. Some rode the storms out well and others not so much. Saltaire, a “full service” Restaurant at Sea, was one that did not fare well during the storm.

Image of Eye of Maria
Eye of Maria Over Virgin Islands

It took months before any salvage efforts could be made. She was grounded against the dock the night of Irma, September 6, 2017. Irma was followed by Hurricane Maria ten days later. As if Irma’s damage to the islands weren’t enough, Maria’s visit made it worst. Communications and the ability to travel on or between the islands became even more difficult. Airports were closed for weeks as was ferry service between islands and salvaging any vessel, much less one 70 feet long, became a magnanimous task.

Hole in Stern
How do we patch this?

Built in 1986 and 70 feet long, Saltaire ended the storm wedged between the finger pier and the dock in front of the Visitor Center and suffered severe damage to both the bow and stern. Saltaire would have to be patched before she could float. The plan was to use a barge to raise her high enough to patch the damaged areas so that she could be towed to Puerto Rico for further repairs.

Barge for Saltaire
Barge rounding the corner for Saltaire

Finally 134 days after the storm on January 18, 2018, a barge arrived to work on Saltaire. All fuels and bilge water had to be pumped off into containers to prevent leakage into the bay. The patching, pumping and general cleanup took several days.

Sea Tow hooked up to Saltaire

On January 26, 2018 Sea Tow arrived to tow them back to Puerto Rico. After days of preperation she heads off to Puerto Rico.

Darrell waves to Saltaire
Acting Superintendent Darrel Echols waves goodbye as the boats head out of the bay.