Stumps of "Miss Thomas Manchineel Tree" August 2009
It has come to this blogger's attention that word is being spread abroad that the beach in Road View/Mullins Bay is now fully recovered from the storm event of last May, thus proving that the neighboring groynes (groins) at St. Peter's Bay Villas had/have nothing to do with destruction of beaches in the area. Of course, this word is being put out by the same unholy alliance of public and private sector interests which gave us the groynes in the first place, and who are now seeking to absolve themselves of their sins through their characteristic obfuscation and outright prevarication. This latest piece of fiction from them comes so embellished with glowing stories of boys playing beach cricket and tennis on the sandy beach that has come back that it leaves people who observe the true status of the beach every day to wonder which beach these people are talking about.
Now it is true that some sand which was washed offshore during the May storm event was finally washed back onshore in late July/early August, so at low tide the beach does not look as stark - bereft of sand with rocks sticking up everywhere - as it did in May and June. This was to be expected and one of the reasons why this blog urged unsuccessfully for the Minister of The Environment to come and take a look at the situation before a little sand came back, as it always does, and people start saying, as some are saying now, that we do not have a problem. The issue is that the beach remains noticeably narrower now than it did before the May storm and definitely so since the groynes were installed three years ago. And, whatever little recovery one notices at low tide is completely covered up again at high tide; and if that high tide is accompanied by waves, as was the case for a couple days last week, property in the area is still being washed out to sea.
However, just do not take this blogger's word for it - I urge Bajans and visitors to the island who know the area to come and see for themselves. The two short videos below were taken yesterday evening around high tide looking north and south at the beach back of "The Peoples Worship Centre" in Road View - the very area highlighted in the local media back in May. Keep in mind this was a beach that way still fully "walkable" both at high tide or low tide prior to the groynes. As you can see, you cannot walk this beach now, as even CZMU's Dr. Leo Brewster discovered a few short weeks ago, without taking a seabath. This is the beach they are claiming has recovered itself naturally.
Beach at Road View looking north
Beach at Road View looking south
The health of a beach is not only about sand coming and going - it is also about the vegetation which surrounds it and whether or not that vegetation is being lost or saved. Well, to underline the ongoing sad state of erosion of the beach at Road View/Mullins as exacerbated by the groynes, last week we lost the last remaining manchineel tree between Gibbes and Cobblers Cove. This tree (pictured in the shots below and stumps above) was easily over 100 years. As a kid growing up in the area we called it "Miss Thomas Manchineel Tree" because it stood at the back of the property (now incorporated into The Great House) of the late Cecelia Thomas who was quite a character in the area when this blogger was growing up.
This time of year when the berries were plentiful and we were home for summer holidays the boys would gather - a team on the beach and one in the water - for "berry war." I could never imagine then I would witness in my lifetime this massive tree being cut down for any reason - least of all - beach erosion. It was weakened by the May storm event, trimmed and buttressed with boulders, but because the sea is always so much closer now the erosion continued and it had to be destroyed gracefully before it created and even greater disaster. So, to those who are saying that the beach is recovered, I ask - where is "Miss Thomas Manchineel Tree?"
"Miss Thomas Manchineel Tree" November 2006