A young cruising family with a sailboat and a small family run charter business in the BVI; lost everything but themselves.
This is my small effort to get this word out on top of all the other suffering in the Caribbean, Mexico, Houston and Florida. I feel a strong need to get the information out about the massive destruction in Barbuda, BVI and other portions of the Caribbean, as US news is telling the story of Houston and Florida well, but there’s others involved in the Irma destruction.
This cruising family has a great blog at Windtraveler.net that tell the story of their cruising with their tiny children on a small cruising boat, something I look forward to and would like to emulate someday. Somehow, they were able to find the time to start a small charter business in the British Virgin Islands, called Aristocat Charters and were eking out a living in paradise through hard work and family support.
That life is gone for them. They were in the US when the hurricane hit, but it didn’t spare their boat (Legato) or their charter boats. Their boats were in a hurricane hole I talked about in another post: https://livefree2sailfast.com/2017/09/08/caribbean-in-mind-conflicting-news-from-bvi/
Their story is below. I URGE you to read it and consider re-posting it so we can help gain awareness for the folks in the Caribbean who have been hard hit. Tourism helps with jobs in the Caribbean, so the people must put life back together. Awareness helps, but so do donations that go to the right places and not into administrators hands. I feel this donation site and one other one I’ll post are two of the best for the Caribbean.
|Hurricane Irma: Reflections on a Life Forever Altered by her Wrath
Posted: 13 Sep 2017 06:05 AM PDT
We were supposed to fly back to Tortola yesterday. Our bags sit in my closet half-way packed with belongings and goodies we were bringing back to our beloved boat. This past weekend was supposed to be full of tearful goodbyes with friends and family. We should be on our boat right now, maybe getting ready for Isla’s first day of kindergarten. She was so excited about her new shoes and uniform. Or maybe we’d be at the beach bar at this moment, hanging out with our friends and telling stories from our respective summers, enveloping in hugs, clinking drinks and lamenting how we’d forgotten it could be so damn hot. The post-summer reunions are always so nice…
This next season held so much promise; best business year yet, travel plans, family visits, rendezvous with new friends…there was so much we were looking forward to.
Irma took all that away from us.
It is hard to put into words how I am feeling. I don’t even really think I know how I am feeling because the magnitude of the situation is, quite frankly, hard to grasp. It’s surreal and, like so many of our friends, I feel numb. We are not unique in our position right now, not by a long shot. I’m often at a loss for words when people ask me about it. There’s a constant little ache in my heart that I carry with me all day long and each time my brain reminds me that this is really happening, I get that a tiny sensation of free-falling in my belly. Life as we knew it is over, and we need to begin again. And while there is a glimmer of excitement in a clean slate and having the ability to “chose your own adventure” (this is how I am framing it for the girls), there is also a tremendous amount of pain and grief because – as most of you know – we really, really loved our life. Our boat, our community, our island…We didn’t want it to change. There is no where else we’d rather be. But we don’t always get what we want, and sometimes something unexpected happens that shakes your world to the core.
On September 6th, Hurricane Irma ripped across our little island showing no mercy. We were hit square on and – at one point as we abroad watched in horror – all of Tortola was visible in her eye. We held our breath. But we knew…we had seen the footage coming out of St. Maarten just hours earlier The devastation…we knew it was going to be beyond what any of us could possibly fathom…And she was. Her wrath was catastrophic. Biblical. Unimaginable. The scope of her destruction was beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. I keep throwing around the unofficial statistic 90%. “90% of the houses are destroyed.” “90% of the boats are destroyed.” “90% of our island is destroyed.” Ninety percent. Again, it’s not an official number – but I can tell you it’s close. It doesn’t take a genius to scan the images and videos come to that ball park number. There is hardly a single palm frond left. She raked our island clean of all foliage. It looks like a nuclear bomb was dropped and friends on the ground are describing the scene as “post-apocalyptic”.
She took our boat, she lies now at the muddy bottom of our marina. She took our business, stripping our boats from their hurricane hole and hurling them into a twisted pile of hundreds of others. She took the homes and businesses of many others and nearly all of our friends. She took beaches and trees and animals and landmarks. And she took lives. We are grateful and lucky to have been spared. Lucky to be alive…we know this, and we are grateful. But that doesn’t mean we still cannot feel the pain of losing so much. It doesn’t mean we don’t grieve for the life that we knew and our uncertain future. We will be okay, we know that. And, yes, we still have each other. But we grieve. A death has still occurred. And, to be quite honest, I think I haven’t even truly begin to process it. This is not the loss of a loved one – far greater to be sure – but it is a loss, and one that so many cannot even begin to fathom. But we are lucky, we had insurance and, hopefully, we will one day be able to recover our great losses.
In the wake of Irma, however, some magic has occurred. As it happens so often in times of crisis the layers of the onion peel away and people begin to see what is really important. Before Irma hit (and we became aware of her velocity and what it might mean for us) my friend went aboard s/v Legato to gather things off our boat, “What do you want?” She asked. I couldn’t think of a single thing that I *needed* to get off because of real value. After Irma hit the only thing I was concerned about was the safety of our friends. And now, instead of slipping into a depressed funk about what our future holds (I completely reserve the right to do this at a later date, fyi), I – along with most of my friends – am channelling my pain into efforts to help the BVI recover as quickly as it can.
People are pulling up their sleeves and coming together. On the ground, on the front lines and abroad, people are working tirelessly to help in any way they can. From fundraising to donating, from evacuating to offering services, from going to the front lines to getting word out to the media, everyone is doing their part and efforts large and small are being made by everyday people. More and more stories are coming out of people talking about how – despite the horror of their experience – it’s been one of the most humbling and positive experiences they’ve ever been a part of. How grateful they are for their lives. How grateful they are for their friends. How, really, it’s the simplest things that matter the most. How everyone came together to help one another. It’s a lesson in humanity. Almost every message from those who have survived the greatest storm of the century is: Gratitude. For life, for neighbors, for each other. “It was the most horrific experience of our lives…but we are stronger for it”.
The yin and yang of life. Just as our beautiful British Virgin Islands showed nature at her most perfect, Irma reminded us that she can be very, very ugly as well. She giveth and she taketh away.
Scott and I have started a relief fund to help rebuild our beloved British Virgin Islands. He is in Puerto Rico right now working with the amazing group >>>Sailors Helping<<< (set up by the amazing powerhouse of a duo behind Sail Me Om) – along with so many others – (Massive shout out to Puerto Rico and it’s people for stepping up to the plate SO BIG for ALL the Virgin Islands and our friends from Three Sheets Sailing for their amazing work!) in an effort to find ways to get our islands back up and running as quickly as possible. And there are so many more I have not mentioned…The road is long, but we are not alone.
If you’d like to help the beautiful Islands that we called home, if you ever vacationed in the BVI and fell in love with it like we did – donate. No amount is too small. Please feel free to share if you are unable to contribute!
PLEASE HELP US HELP THE BVI COME BACK STRONGER THAN EVER:
If all 106 if you re-blog this, email it, discuss with your friends how to help anywhere; Houston, Florida, Mexico, the Caribbean,,,,,it will go a long way.
LiveFree2SailFast.com just donated to the Immediate Relief Fund mentioned above, will you donate too?
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