We are retired public school teachers from the USA. Since 2011, we have been sailing nearly full time from Maine to the Florida Keys and the Bahamas on our 1994 Island Packet 35, “Island Spirit.”. With ten trips up and down the Intracoastal Waterway, we have seen many beautiful places. After spending the winters of 2012-2016 in the Bahamas, we finally pushed ourselves to head beyond our comfort zone. We sailed southeast by way of The Thorny Path to the Caribbean in the spring of 2017. Here is a photo of our proud moment when we turned the corner out of the Mona Passage, rounding the SW corner of Puerto Rico and finally making it into the Caribbean Sea!

Photo: We Reach the Caribbean Sea!

We enjoyed exploring the Turks and Caicos, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, which was a wonderful surprise for its warm and friendly people and spectacular scenery. Next, we cruised the Spanish, US, and British Virgin Islands, finally arriving at our happy place of The Bitter End Yacht Club on Virgin Gorda. Dreams came true when we spent weeks exploring these gorgeious and familiar islands at a leisurely pace, instead of dashing madly about as we have done several times in the past on a one-week charter vacation.

Our original plans were to push on through and head south to Grenada to store the boat for hurricane season. Instead, we decided to store the boat in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, because we wanted to return to lovely Puerto Rico and to review, one more time, all of these beautiful islands. Here we are in full Puerto Rican Medalla brand beer attire. We love Puerto Rico….

As most of you know, the 2017 Caribbean Hurricane season was like none before, with IRMA and MARIA devastating all the islands from Dominica northward. Our beloved islands took a direct hit and nearly all the places we visited have been damaged or destroyed. Many people are homeless and jobless. There is so much destruction. Our hearts are broken for these kind people and their beautiful islands. Here is part of the Bitter End Yacht Club as left by Hurricane Maria…..

Radeen and I started by donating to the British Red Cross, the American Red Cross, VirginUnite BVI fund, SailorsHelping.org and the Rhymer Family Hurricane Relief in Cane Garden Bay. We have registered to volunteer on-site, if possible, with Habitat for Humanity in San Juan, VirginUnite, Sir Richard Branson’s charity, and the Bitter End Yacht Club, whose goal is to rebuild the homes of their 200 employees before starting to work on their resort. We still feel very helpless and so have been searching for other ways to help. Finally, we thought of using the model of Patreon plus Blogger plus Youtube. We have been watching this model develop over the past 3 years via svDelos, LaVagabond and Sailing Doodles sites. Our use of the model is different. Here is our plan.

We encourage our YouTube viewers and our blog followers to become subscribing Patrons at the Patreon website. We ask you to pledge a small fee for each blog post, video, or photo essay we publish. We will share this donated money with local charities, families, and people we find that can really use the help. This money is NOT for us, we want to help others with your donations, OTHERS who have lost so much, OTHERS who need assistance in so many ways. This is a new model for using Patreon and we like the idea. We hope you like it, too, and that you see its value and its potential for good.

We will be publishing a public balance sheet to show where your money has been shared. This will be presented here. https://svIslandSpirit.com/donations

Our plan is to return to Puerto Rico Nov 1, 2017, where we first will repair minor damage to our sailboat so we have a place to live. Another challenge will be managing all of this with limited communication capability in devastated areas. After we launch the boat, we plan to look for places we can help and to find families that need assistance. With these donated funds, we will buy what is needed and make donations where we see it will help most. We plan to do this throughout our cruising path for the 2017-2018 season and possibly afterwards. We are only two individuals, but with the help of all of you, we will work hard to make a difference by using your donations. Please spread the news about what we are doing and join us in…
… Sharing the Joy of Giving!

Hayden & Radeen