We continue our motoring around the BVIs including a run to North Sound to see first-hand the power and destruction of Hurricane IRMA and MARIA to our favorite place in the entire world, The Bitter End Yacht Club. First, we stopped into Road Town on Tortola to pick up CCT sim cards for data and cell services and for a few supplies. Taking a free town mooring right off the Moorings stone seawall, we could see into the harbor where there were sunken yachts and flipped over 50-foot catamarans. With total shock and disbelief, we dinghied thru the harbor looking at the destruction. Right on the fuel dock, there is a 60-foot cat upside down! OH MY GOSH! These people have been thru hell and back and are still suffering the damages of a CAT 5 hurricane 4 months ago.
The people we talk to are trying to get back to normal, whatever this new normal will be, and they express pride in their progress. There is so much more work to be done. At the CCT cell store, all the windows were blown out and plywood with temporary windows covered the 3 story office building. Construction workers were offloading more windows and more plywood. In the midst of this destruction, we witnessed kindness and optimism. Everyone we talk to about the storm and damages to their homes simply says, “We are ALIVE, we are still here, Thank GOD!” To hear their stories and the horror that they endured is really heartbreaking. One waitress described losing the roof on her house, moving during the eye to a friend’s house and losing that roof. She and her children went into a closet and she held the door against the wind. It makes our simple little damages to our mast so trivial. We count our blessings!
4 Months After
After getting fuel and a few provisions and a sim card in Road Town, we headed off to North Sound to see the remains of the Bitter End Yacht Club and Saba Rock. Motoring into North Sound, where we have gone 10 times before since 1986, was a bittersweet trip. We already knew what we would find, but we had to see this for ourselves. Out of all the places we have traveled, this place, The Bitter End Yacht Club, has always been our #1 happy place. We have many, many happy memories from here, of birthdays, Christmases and even a wedding. As we motored past looking at the total destruction, tears streamed down our faces. Everything is destroyed….the clubhouse, restaurant, marina, sailing center, gift shop, conference center and wedding cabana. The homes on the hills are blown apart. The Estate House we rented during our friends’ wedding is blown off the face of the earth. Nothing is left. We simply cannot believe the destruction. The eye of this hurricane came right over the entire BVIs and that meant they had 200 mph winds from one direction, then a clearing during the eye and then 200 mph winds from the opposite direction. It is this reversing of the winds that will destroy buildings and do total destruction!
After motoring past Saba Rock and looking at the destruction there, we turned south towards Leverick Bay and realized that this may be the last time we ever sail to the Bitter End. Thirty one years of happy times spent here and then one hurricane levels the entire resort. The family that owns this property will keep this closed for one year as they graciously work on rebuilding the homes of their many employees who have lost it all. They started a donation fund to which we donated right away. You can read about that in the Bitter End’s website here: http://BEYC.com You can also go directly to the donation page here:
We ended our North Sound tour with a night at Leverick Bay to see Michael Beans Pirate show. This is the best show in the islands and he gets everyone involved in the show. Michael is a great man and even though he lost his home/boat in Spanish Town in the hurricane, he has restarted his show. Of course, he had to totally rebuild his stage and set and sound system and is back up and running. He is a one-man show and he is very very popular. We always enjoy his show. Leverick Bay Marina is rebuilding and they are open with the beach bar and pool and docks. The market is open and stocked, but the Pussers Store is closed for rebuilding. Overall they were hit hard also, and they are rebuilding fast.
From Leverick Bay, we motored south past Spanish Town, another location where many boaters store their yachts for the offseason. As we motored past we could see many yachts on their sides and leaning over. Several of our friends lost their yachts in this location. We hear the harbor is closed due to sunken yachts. Again, there is so much destruction and it is heart breaking.
From here, we pulled into the Baths, where we have been at least 10 times. Today there was a north swell running due to the large storm off the USA east coast. We have never been here when there is a RED flag hoisted. This means that it is very dangerous to swim into the Baths. The swell was causing large waves crashing up onto the beaches and then pushing 20+ feet up into the trees! WHAT? I have never seen this. So, we decide to not swim in. The park has roped off the beaches and you have to take your dinghy to the perimeter rope, tie off then jump in and swim into the beach or the rock. With these waves crashing on the beach it would have been dangerous to body surf in, so we sadly motored past.
We motored back to Peter Island, Great Harbor where there is lots of protection and then move down to Norman Island for Pirate’s Bight as we meet our Team Six Knots, Fezywig and Sea Star. Then we will move over to Soper’s Hole and base there as that too is very protected. We hear that Omar’s coffee shop is open!
One last topic:
OUR SHIP to SHIP to FLORIDA!
We are watching the ship we are assigned to, and it is still in ITALY! What? Yup, Italy, that is 4,500 nm away, it is to be in St. Thomas Jan 18-20 loading us. At 15 knots of speed this ship needs 13-14 days to make it here. That means it needs to depart Italy in the next few days. If it does not, then I am betting this ship will cancel as well. If that happens, then we will need another new plan. Oh well, so it is. At least our motor is running great!
Thank you all for following along.