End of Month Two

Another week or so passes. Progress is steady but not as fast as we may have liked. But we try to avoid the use of the notorious (and to me a bit derogatory) term “Island Time” After the initial excavation was completed, the masons had a series of very challenging tasks which took a good deal of time and even more experience and skill.

As noted earlier we were fortunate to secure the service of the most highly recommended mason on St. John. Jimmy, from Puerto Rico has been a mason here for 30 years. Everyone we spoke to advised that if we could get him, he was the very best. While Jimmy, who is 80, doesn’t touch a form or tool, he maintains a committed crew of men from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic who have worked with him for years and know exactly what to do to follow the dimensions of the engineering and architectural plans but they follow their own instinctual interpretation of the structural elements of concrete construction. This includes the all important rebar layouts, and necessary walls and footings to conform to Sundancer’s severe topography. They came up with 80% of the decisions on how to pull it all together with little guidance from Rob or the drawings. It has been fun to observe.

So, all of that extemporaneous artistry has consumed a good deal of the time as well as trying to coordinate delivery of concrete from the one and only concrete plant on St. John.

This past week was eventful. Following about a week delay getting scheduled for concrete, the crew arrived on Tuesday along with the prerequisite pump truck to pour the slab of the new lower level bedroom and the remainder of the footings as well as the slab that serves as the floor of the new cistern on the west side of the old basement.

The first concrete truck came and the pour was flawless. The second truck came and the site became chaotic! The concrete was a different mix of small and large stones and the pump simply could not force it through their pipes. I won’t bore you with the details but the pump truck crew scrambled for hours trying to get the concrete to the first slab while Jimmy’s crew leaned on their shovels and rakes waiting. Eventually we sent the concrete truck away and the concrete yard sent another truck with the same results. In the end they got enough concrete to finish the cistern side, but it was too late in the day to begin the bedroom side.

The drama continued on Thursday while Rob and I enjoyed a long planned vacation day to Jost Van Dyke. When we returned the crew was wrapping up with a successful, but painful send day.


As I write this I am returning to Florida for a week with Carol Ann followed by a short business trip overseas. Rob is holding down the fort and finished up mounting a pipe in the old cistern wall to connect with the new cistern so they balance the amount of water in them when one is full.  It was a challenge because he discovered that the old cistern walls are 12″ thick!


He will continue the task of installing the first lumber on the bedroom slab which entails drilling holes to lock in the anchor bolts and installing threaded rods with epoxy in the slab to eventually hold down hefty steel brackets that will anchor the actual wall panels. All of this is necessary to accommodate the dictates of the intense engineering we commissioned to make sure Sundancer II remains stationary to 185 miles per hour!

Hope I didn’t bore you too much, but all of this work is preliminary to the more “sexy” stage when the SIPS arrive and start going up. We were advised that the panels are nearly done and will ship on time. The order for the windows and exterior doors goes in this week as well.  Here are a couple of photos sent by the factory in Virginia.

Below is a story I shared with our “Family Chat” last week that seemed to be enjoyed by our family.  Perhaps you might too:

I missed a great photo op today but maybe I can give you all a word picture.

For the past few days, we have been hooking up the water pump in the old basement. The masons need water on Tuesday to spray down the concrete slabs they will pour.

We had to move the pump to the opposite side of the basement and I had to remove the pipe that went through the floor into the cistern which holds our water. As the pipe was too long to pull out, I had to cut it. Because of something glued to the end of it, I couldn’t pull the rest of it out of the hole and I let it go and it dropped into the cistern.

Turns out I needed that part to put on the end of the new pipe on the other side of the basement. (It was a screen and check valve.)

Rob and I discussed how we might retrieve it using a pole or rake and Rob volunteered to go into the cistern and get it.

So,  (here comes the photo.). We go to the house and up to the basement (which is now reached by climbing a ladder because of the excavations). We take the cover off of the cistern hatch and I look inside with a flashlight and see the water is pretty clear and I can see the dropped part on the other side at the bottom.

Son Robert strips down, puts on his dive mask, takes his dive light and slides into the 5 feet of water! I knew at that moment I should have brought my phone! Damn!

I hear him splashing around and shortly after, he returns with the pipe and sticks his head out of the hole. “Click!”

Now he tries to lift himself out but can’t. “Click!”

I give him my arm and he lifts up and pulls himself across the concrete. “Click!” ( Gotta delete that one…..rated X)

Turns out the piece on the end of the pipe that I needed was destroyed when I dropped the pipe. Had to go buy one anyway.

Still made for a good story!


Author: Bob Faucett

Bob and wife, Carol Ann own Sundancer Villa in Fish Bay on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

3 thoughts on “End of Month Two”

  1. Oh my – what a lotta phun (not)! Thanks for the update. We share your excitement with the progress, as slow as it is, it IS progressing. 🙂

    Keep up the good work. It’ll be worth it!

    We love you all! ~D&B~


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