Safety First

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Let's Go To The Beach

Robbed of sand and eroded by the influence of the groynes at St. Peter’s Bay Villas, and two months after it was destroyed by two weeks of swells generated by a storm system in the Atlantic, I thought I would give the readers and followers of this blog a quick update on the state of the beach at Road View/Mullins Bay. I will be concentrating on the area around the spot that caught the media’s attention two months ago owing to a fallen almond tree which increased the threat to one of the chattel houses on the beach. This is not to ignore other damage in the area, some of which is much greater, but to revisit the spot which became the postcard for the tragedy the groynes have visited upon the area.

As you will see in the video below, the almond tree is still here. It was trimmed and shoved to one side to make way for the digger to pass along the beach to repair the seawall and line the beach in front of a luxury villa with boulders. There is less of a threat to this property from the sea now that it too is lined with boulders - which event was reported on this blog and in the local media. You cannot see the boulders in the video below because, curiously, they are covered by a gortex membrane (the black plastic sheeting you see hanging over them) which is suppose to prevent the sea water from undermining and washing away the soil holding up the house. One would have thought that the membrane should have been placed under the boulders and up against the foundation of the house - but what do I know about installing Gortex??? However, with the almond tree's roots sticking up in the air and the Gortex flapping in the breeze next to it, it does give the beach a certain tackiness in never had in the past and probably can do without.

To the south the Jonkanoo beach cottage (which property was used as a staging area for the repair project) is also lined with boulders. However, even though promises were thrown around verbally and in the media, about lining the whole cove with boulders, curiously, two properties north of and adjacent to the fallen almond tree received no boulders at all. One (a church) was lined with debris (broken pieces of concrete and fallen coconut tree stumps) from the luxury villa’s repair job (upsetting some church members) and the other property got nothing.

Just within the last week a little sand has finally come back covering some of the rocks on the beach so it does not look as stark as it did. However, it still remains much narrower than it was before the storm, so much so that the boulders placed in front of the luxury villa are almost always covered by seawater and now sport a healthy growth of moss (algae); which means that in case of a storm (and we are in the hurricane season) we are all still in deep doo-doo. One or two of the smaller boulders have already been relocated by the waves.

This current state of affairs underscores the need more than ever for a comprehensive solution for the entire area. Lining the beach with a few boulders while telling people that they are a temporary solution when everybody knows they are permanent will not bring back or build a sandy beach. For that to happen the groynes need to be removed and the beach nourished (sand pumped in or trucked in). Anything short of that means that we have accepted that going forward we will only be reading about the beach at Road View in history books and remembering it through photographs.

This would be a very unfortunate outcome because as recently as March of this year we had visitors to the island resorting to this beach, some to get away from the cruise ship crowds at Mullins Beach, and really enjoying it. One couple from teh Isle of Man who stayed at a private home in the vicinity of Kings Beach Village came every single day for two weeks. Barbados can ill afford to be losing beaches particularly on the calmer west coast at a time when west coast beaches are being described as “…the west coast beaches are overrated—often overburdened, overbuilt, or eroded little coves with no room to walk and mostly rocky, hard-to-enter waters…” in a well respected and widely read travel magazine. This is a clarion call for people in authority on this matter to climb down from or get up off their little thrones and do something worthy for the country, and not just for themselves, before it is eternally too late.

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1 comment:

  1. I think these images speak to the erosion question very strongly. It's like "Kings Beach II" which is another horrifying instance of extreme erosion. Maybe the idea is not to do anything, drive all the locals away because they're depressed and disgusted and then bring in a developer to save the beach...with more groynes.