COLE BAY–Both the rope and pulley of the St. Maarten flag at Bell’s Lookout Point on Cole Bay Hill broke two weeks ago. Passers-by saw the flag hanging kite-like by its rope on Friday, January 21. Since then, the flag has not flown as government has not yet provided the funding necessary for its repairs.
St. Maarten Volunteer Corps VKS Lieutenant David Bardfield explained to The Daily Herald that the VKS has voluntarily maintained the flag for the past few years, even though the flag falls under government’s Facilities Management department.
According to Bardfield, government requested the help of the volunteer corps to assist with the raising and lowering of the flag and the unwrapping of its rope because the task was no longer sustainable for the St. Maarten Fire Department.
VKS installed several devices such as PVC pipes to prevent the flag’s rope from wrapping around the pole. But those devices do not stand a chance when the wind changes, Bardfield explained.
The wind changes about every two weeks, so a volunteer must go up the 100-foot (30-metre) pole in a safety harness every two weeks to unwrap the flag, said the VKS lieutenant.
According to Bardfield, another problem has to do with the tail of the flag as this becomes tattered after two weeks or less due to the location’s high wind gusts. The VKS then take down the flag and bring it to St. Maarten Sail NV for repairs. When repaired, the flag can fly another two weeks before requiring maintenance.
Additionally, VKS takes the flag down when wind’s speed reaches 25 knots (28.77 miles per hour) or more to prevent the flag from excessive tattering. Unfortunately, that is 20 per cent of the time on St. Maarten, said Bardfield.
Lastly, the flag’s 200-foot (60-metre) rope frays over time due to the wind-induced friction against the pole. This was the case on January 21, when the bottom of the rope became completely severed and let loose.
VKS usually gets new marine-grade ropes at Budget Marine. The new rope will be the fourth replacement. However, VKS explained that they are still awaiting government’s payment to buy the replacement, so that the St. Maarten flag can return to its rightful place – on the top of the hill for all to see. The flag itself is currently at St. Maarten Sail NV and is also awaiting payment to start repairs.
“I hope the flag will be able to go back up next week after the vendors receive the necessary funds,” concluded Bardfield.
Bron: Daily Herald