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Island Broker Blog

Raising the elevation of islands

March 8th, 2009

Nearly every island we have listed needs at least a small amount of filling. As a result, filling an island with sand to raise its elevation is one of our most frequent topics of conversation with our clients.  Even the higher elevation islands can benefit from filling to aid in proper drainage and discourage the ponding of rainwater.

To cover all the details, I’ll need to do this in several postings. I’ll insert a link in each post so if the subject interests you, you will easily find the other postings on the subject.

Filling an island can be completed in various ways.  Each technique has its pro and cons so the ideal method will vary depending on the island, the budget, timeframe, and the long term goals of the project.

If an island is located in an environmentally sensitive area such as a marine reserve, then this must also be taken into account. On some occasions, this means the sea floor must not be disturbed at all.

We’ve met lots of island owners and potential island owners. I have yet to meet one that doesn’t love the environment surrounding a tropical island. Each and every one of them wants to accomplish their goals with the lightest footprint possible on the surrounding environment both above and below the water. With some planning, an effective approach to filling will be found for each situation.

With this in mind, I’ll discuss several critical stages of the filling process and the different approaches available to the island owner.

The topics will be:

  • Your island vision.
  • Suitability of the island. Can it support the project?
  • Timing and budget and return on investment.
  • Obtaining permits
  • Filling methods; what is sand?
  • Dredging
  • Drag Line
  • Small scale dredge and trash pumps
  • Hand filling
  • Excavating the island’s own material
  • Barging in sand
  • Rocks, tubes, and other natural sand gatherers
  • Landscaping
  • Sea walls

As you can see there is far too much detail to put this into one post. I’ll cover each topic as time permits so please check back often or subscribe to the RSS feed to receive the next post as it’s uploaded!

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Categories: island development

C&K Magazine has a little article about daydreaming

October 8th, 2008

Just in case you needed validation that you aren’t all that strange, C&K Magazine has a short article on daydreaming about islands! I suppose it doesn’t hurt that we’re mentioned in the article so I thought I would maybe gloat a little bit. C&K is a magazine focused on the affluent lifestyle and offshore investment. Take a look and consider signing up for a subscription. It never hurts to learn about offshore banking and investment.

Personally, I daydream constantly. You’d think this whole island thing would get old but it doesn’t. I’m constantly thinking about the details of things and find myself just wanting to go out to an island and do some work and then just hang out and watch the waves, maybe grow a beard. It’s odd I know, but I can’t help it. Okay, maybe I’ve revealed too much!

The other day we drove the boat past an island called Little Rendezvous. Boy does this one conjure up the day dreams!!

Does the owner want to sell it it? Well, he would consider it for a cool 2 million! I’ll be the first to admit, that’s a bit steep for less than one acre. But you gotta admit, it does help spark those daydreams.

In the meantime, check out the article here: C&K Magazine

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Categories: Island Fun

Incredibly quick progress on Little Pete!

August 28th, 2008

The other day we visited Little Peter Caye to check on the new owner’s progress in development. I knew the new owners were contractors and they told me from the beginning that they wouldn’t waste time on their project. They were eager to get going.

It’s not that I didn’t believe them, because I did. But I was still shocked! These guys kicked butt!

During the escrow process the buyers hired Carlton Young, Owner of Young’s Engineering Consultancy in Belize City to give an opinion of the island’s feasibility for building. After a few tests, the island was given a clean bill of health and the sale closed.Probe Test

Carlton is a terrific civil and structural engineer that knows his stuff on island property. We highly recommend him for your due diligence period investigations of soil and building feasibility.

Once the sale closed, the new owners of Little Peter didn’t waste any time getting to work. Permits were immediately applied for and then the project hit the ground running!

It’s important to note that this is a personal estate project among a group of close friends. It will be completed at their leisure with no real timeframe attached. So work may progress quickly, then stop for a few months, then start back up again.

Even though I knew they were serious about getting started, I was still blown away by the progress made in just a shade over 2 weeks. The quality was top notch, easily some of the best I’ve ever seen on any island.Little Pete\'s pier

The initial project was to get a caretaker house and pier built. Since this was a new undertaking by seasoned contractors, they knew what they wanted to achieve but still had to learn the secrets of where to get the best pricing on quality components and then getting them out to the island. This was no small task.

Ultimately, supplies were purchased in Belmopan and loaded onto an 18 wheeler for transportation to Sittee River where they were then loaded onto several small skiffs for the 8 mile journey to the island. This of course took many trips back and forth to get it all out there.Little Peter Pier

The crew camped out on the island while building and worked continuously until the pier and house were near completion. The long term plans call for a big palapa on the end of the pier which will add quite a few feet to the length of the structure. But for now the goal was to get the majority of the pier built and the caretaker’s house dried in.Caretakers house at the end of the pier

Keep in mind we were there during a “work-in-progress” so there were still small details needing completion. A couple weeks after these pictures were taken the owners came back down and installed the plumbing, electrical, and septic system in the house so it’s fully habitable and environmentally sound. I’ll get those pictures during my next trip!Backside of the caretakers house on Little Peter

Getting this much accomplished would be a truly remarkable achievement in the US with plenty of Home Depots to supply whatever you need. But imagine doing it on an island in a small foreign country, 8 miles off shore, without a barge, in 15 days!! It’s just amazing.

I expect Little Peter will be a frequent stop for us to show our clients how it can be done and that it really isn’t as hard as it seems.

The good news is these owners are interested in helping their new neighbors accomplish the same thing. So preparations are underway to offer construction services for our clients. Since we’re all neighbors here, we might as well work together to get the highest quality work for the best price we can.

Being from Texas, they understand the high expectations of foreign buyers because they have the same concerns. So if you would like a referral to some great people with amazing construction management abilities, let me know and I’ll gladly make the introduction.

We’ll keep you posted on the progress. We might even get some videos of this one. The owners said they’re video documenting everything along the way.


Categories: General, island development

Tropical Island Camp for Castaway Wannabes

July 13th, 2008

I have an idea that I desperately need your feedback on.

It’s an idea I think we’re uniquely qualified to implement and one on which you, as an island enthusiast, are just as qualified to give your feedback. In fact it’s very important that I do hear from you on this one. The more ideas, the better so give me everything you’ve got and I’ll use the info to make the right decision.

I’ve always loved camping and fishing. I’ve also had this little fantasy of being stranded on a deserted island just to see if I could survive. Even if it were just for a weekend, I think it would be a blast… just me and maybe a few friends hanging out, fishing, eating coconuts, and enjoying the beauty of the island. No, KT wouldn’t participate. She thinks I’m crazy for even having the fantasy. The very idea of going a day without a shower makes her skin crawl.

But what if we could have it both ways? What if we kept an island as untouched as possible but had all the major components there for comfortable camping? By that I mean a top notch tent or palapa with a decent bed, a cooking area, maybe a fire pit for the evenings, a toilet (that doesn’t smell) and yes a shower! Consider it hi-end camping on a deserted island.

All of this could be accomplished with practically no impact on the island at all. The gray water and solids could be boated out weekly in small removable tanks for disposal at the mainland. We can add a rain water collection system that would easily cover all the needs and we can boat in jugs of purified water for consumption during the trip. Small solar panels could provide power for a few florescent lamps and to charge a ship-to-shore radio and a fixed cellular for safety. Everything else is just logistics.

Personally, I’d add a grocery shopping and fishing component to this and stock the island with snorkel gear and a kayak or two. I’d also have a trusted caretaker nearby to help out where needed during times when “castaways” are on the island.

So here is where you come in. I’d like the answers to a few questions.

  • As island enthusiasts, have you ever had this same fantasy? Or am I as weird as I think?
  • Would you come to a place like this?
  • If so, what is the MOST you would pay (per person, per night) for such an experience? I know everyone wants a deal but this is a business venture!
  • If you were interested, would you want to do it by yourself or with friends and/or family?Please leave a comment to give me your feedback. Positive or negative, it’s all valuable information. I think it’s a good idea and one worth pursuing. But then again, I like camping and getting dirty and salty and fishy, so maybe my ideas need a little tweaking.Thanks for the feedback!

    Categories: Island Fun, Island related businesses

    Island names, what a pain in the butt!!

    July 11th, 2008

    We’ve always been fascinated by the interesting names that have been given to islands. Often times the name of the island is either a reflection of some notable feature on the island or its location, or even of a family name from way back when. Some are so odd that you don’t even question it. It’s just a collection of letters that formed the name in some native tongue from a long time ago. The name no doubt has a meaning but good luck finding it.

    Katafanga Island? Beats me. But with views like this, who gives a rip? Besides, I like the sound of it.

    For us, island names are an important topic and a constant source of frustration. After all, it’s the only real “address” the island has. So you can probably imagine how the name might change over time and the resulting confusion it causes for us AND you as potential island owners.

    The islands of Belize are particularly confusing. At least 50% of the time, the island’s name on a map (if it even shows up on one) will be different than its official name. Plus the local fishermen and boat captains may know the island by an entirely different name. And if well meaning folks like us get involved to publicize an island, you know we won’t want to market an island called “Mud Caye” or “Mosquito Caye”! So the name changes again!

    There are easily a thousand islands in Belize. Many of which have no name at all. So these and even the named islands are simply referred to by the name of the range they sit in rather than by the individual island name. There are several ranges of islands including Pelican, Sand Fly, Blue Ground, Cockney, Lark, Drowned, and many more.

    Historically, Belizeans just didn’t have much of an imagination when it came to naming islands. I can’t tell you how many islands are named after bugs or birds, but there are a lot! But even though you’d think the selection of names those two categories might offer would be HUGE, they’re really not. So what happens when you run out of bug and bird names? Well you start over of course! As a result, there has to be at least 4 islands named Pelican plus the range name itself. Mosquito Caye? Yeah, there’s about 5 of those. Sand Fly? At least 3 that I know of the several \

    One of several “Sand Fly” Cayes. This one I affectionately re-named Ugly Boat Caye after catching a glimpse of the presumed owner’s craft.

    And then there is the “Long” Cayes. Long Caye, Middle Long, Southern Long, the Long at Lighthouse, the Long at Glover’s, Long Coco, North Long Coco, Little Long Coco, Long Loco…aaaah! See what I mean?

    Then along come us well intentioned Island Brokers. It doesn’t make sense to have two islands of the same name, for sale on our site at the same time. You can probably imagine the time wasted just trying to carry on conversations where both islands may be discussed. With that and the risk of duplicate content from a search engine perspective, it simply makes sense to give the islands new names.

    This by no means changes the official name of the island but it does tend to establish a new way of referring to the island locally. It also gives us a chance to give the islands more fun and romantic names that reflect the dream of owning a private island.

    So before you pack your bags, it’s important to know that any island could have 3 or more names. Just because a local boat captain has navigated the waters their entire life, doesn’t mean they know an island by the same name as us. He may unintentionally take you to the wrong island simply because he thinks it is the correct property and he wants the income from the boat charter. This is one of the biggest reasons we choose to personally show our clients the islands.

    We will have personal knowledge of every island we market and will have properly documented and verified the island by GPS points to ensure we’re selling the right island. Believe me, we learned this one the hard way!!

    Yes you can officially change the name of an island if you wish. But that’s a whole different story. Give us a call and we’ll fill you in.

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    Categories: Island Fun