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Charlotte Amalie
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HomeNewsArchivesNot for Profit: SnorkelSTJ Is a Labor of Love

Not for Profit: SnorkelSTJ Is a Labor of Love

Barbara CritesBarbara Crites calls herself a marine life enthusiast, an apt description that serves her well in developing her website, www.snorkelstj.com.

It’s a labor of love for this four-year plus St. John resident who wants to share what she sees underwater around St. John with anyone who wants to look at her website.

“Here are all these wonderful creatures,” she said.

Crites said she wants to provide an educational resource to enhance people’s snorkeling experiences.

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“So they care about it and try to protect it,” she said.

She said she decided to create the website because existing ones on the same topic covered to broad a geographic region or if they were more local, didn’t have enough information.

“I decided to make one of everything they have here,” she said.

When she’s not on the job as office manager at Dr. Cool Air Conditioning, Refrigeration and Appliances, she’s snorkeling, taking photos of the undersea life with her Olympus camera or working on her website.

“It’s kind of my passion,” she said.

The website has 4,200 photos of fish, coral, marine plants, and algae. Crites said that as fish mature, they change so it’s important to show them through all stages of their life.

“A juvenile parrot fish looks totally different than an intermediate,” she said.

She said that her current project includes adding the scientific names to each description.

Born in Waukesha, Wisc., she spent most of her adult life in that area doing such diverse jobs as working for Briggs & Stratton engine manufacturing company, working for a collection agency, running her own real estate firm, managing a business that packed parachutes and harnesses, and owning a motel and RV park in Spooner, Wisc.

She was introduced to St. John by long-time resident Mark Shekleton. The two went to the same high school but had long ago lost track of each other until they met again in a bar in her home state.

“I turned around and there was Mark,” she said.

She kept his business card, and one day while looking for something, it surfaced. She gave him a call, and the two renewed their friendship. Crites made several trips to St. John to help Shekleton with his vacation villa business.

When she finally decided to make the move, she looked on Craig’s List for a job.

Gary David, manager at Dr. Cool, hired her after a telephone interview so she put 4,000 pounds of her worldly goods in storage, including a car, and headed south.

Her belongings are still in storage, but she said she’s learned how much a person can do without.

“And I’ve learned patience and tolerance,” she said.

Claiming not to be much of a water person until she arrived on St. John, she jumped in feet first to learn all she could about the island’s marine life. She said she likes snorkeling, because unlike one of her previous activities, parachuting, it doesn’t need a lot of equipment. She snorkels alone, and said it doesn’t make her nervous.

Crites said she was recently snorkeling in Kiddel Bay when she spotted a lemon shark.

“It was just lying still in the water,” she said.

An adventurous sort, she’s traveled the world to places like Africa to view wildlife.

“Travel is such a mind-opening experience,” she said.

Crites, 63, and single with no children, said the future is uncertain. She said she likes cold weather so she may head back north, but she has no definite plans other than to retire at 66.

If she’s still on St. John when she retires, she’d like to do some painting and learn more about the St. John community. For now, work, snorkeling and her website consume her time.

“I want to immerse myself in island living,” she said.

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Barbara CritesBarbara Crites calls herself a marine life enthusiast, an apt description that serves her well in developing her website, www.snorkelstj.com.

It’s a labor of love for this four-year plus St. John resident who wants to share what she sees underwater around St. John with anyone who wants to look at her website.

“Here are all these wonderful creatures,” she said.

Crites said she wants to provide an educational resource to enhance people’s snorkeling experiences.

“So they care about it and try to protect it,” she said.

She said she decided to create the website because existing ones on the same topic covered to broad a geographic region or if they were more local, didn’t have enough information.

“I decided to make one of everything they have here,” she said.

When she’s not on the job as office manager at Dr. Cool Air Conditioning, Refrigeration and Appliances, she’s snorkeling, taking photos of the undersea life with her Olympus camera or working on her website.

“It’s kind of my passion,” she said.

The website has 4,200 photos of fish, coral, marine plants, and algae. Crites said that as fish mature, they change so it’s important to show them through all stages of their life.

“A juvenile parrot fish looks totally different than an intermediate,” she said.

She said that her current project includes adding the scientific names to each description.

Born in Waukesha, Wisc., she spent most of her adult life in that area doing such diverse jobs as working for Briggs & Stratton engine manufacturing company, working for a collection agency, running her own real estate firm, managing a business that packed parachutes and harnesses, and owning a motel and RV park in Spooner, Wisc.

She was introduced to St. John by long-time resident Mark Shekleton. The two went to the same high school but had long ago lost track of each other until they met again in a bar in her home state.

“I turned around and there was Mark,” she said.

She kept his business card, and one day while looking for something, it surfaced. She gave him a call, and the two renewed their friendship. Crites made several trips to St. John to help Shekleton with his vacation villa business.

When she finally decided to make the move, she looked on Craig’s List for a job.

Gary David, manager at Dr. Cool, hired her after a telephone interview so she put 4,000 pounds of her worldly goods in storage, including a car, and headed south.

Her belongings are still in storage, but she said she’s learned how much a person can do without.

“And I’ve learned patience and tolerance,” she said.

Claiming not to be much of a water person until she arrived on St. John, she jumped in feet first to learn all she could about the island’s marine life. She said she likes snorkeling, because unlike one of her previous activities, parachuting, it doesn’t need a lot of equipment. She snorkels alone, and said it doesn’t make her nervous.

Crites said she was recently snorkeling in Kiddel Bay when she spotted a lemon shark.

“It was just lying still in the water,” she said.

An adventurous sort, she’s traveled the world to places like Africa to view wildlife.

“Travel is such a mind-opening experience,” she said.

Crites, 63, and single with no children, said the future is uncertain. She said she likes cold weather so she may head back north, but she has no definite plans other than to retire at 66.

If she’s still on St. John when she retires, she’d like to do some painting and learn more about the St. John community. For now, work, snorkeling and her website consume her time.

“I want to immerse myself in island living,” she said.