From WindTraveler- One Family’s Thoughts on Life after Irma

This family had most of their material possessions destroyed by Irma in the BVI’s along with their business, which was four charter catamarans that they ran a growing day charter business on.  My heart goes out to them because they were raising their children on the sailboat they used to live on (she sank during Irma) and have the moxy to start their own business doing what they love.  I wanted to share this story bad enough that I actually cut and pasted it into here and I know it would be ok with them since it needs to be told and needs to be read.  The BVI’s and Puerto Rico are still in a bad way and need all the support they can get.

Life After Irma

Posted: 02 Oct 2017 09:24 AM PDT

Life goes on. This is the most comforting, and yet hardest aspect to grasp post Irma. I walked through Target the other day, meandering the aisles and taking stock of the obscene amount of stuff filling every shelf (some of which I admittedly put in my cart). I could not stop thinking of my friends  and fellow islanders on St. Maarten, BVI, USVI, Domenica and Puerto Rico who wait for hours and hours to get basic staples, who walk for miles to charge their devices and attempt to connect with loved ones…who’s lives have taken on a completely different purpose and weight, and for whom basic survival is a daily game. What would they think of this Target trip, I wondered? These are people for whom a roof, a shower and a flushing toilet are luxuries. Target? What a joke. But life goes on…

There are two camps of people who have emerged from this storm; those who lived through the horror of it (and by almost all accounts, it was absolutely terrifying) and those of us who are residents and watched from afar as the horror unfolded. The experiences for each – both pre and post storm – are different, but the end result is the same: Every single one of our lives have been changed forever. Many of us lost our homes and most all of our worldly belongings. Many of us lost jobs and businesses. Not a single one of us came out unscathed. An entire geographic area’s inhabitants (not to mention our islands) are permanently scarred from #irmaria and while each of our scars are unique, they are there. The side-effects of the trauma of an entire life completely turned upside down are vast. And we will all feel the after-shocks of Hurricane Irma for a very, very long time.

As most of you know, we are in the Chicagoland area where we plan to stay for the time being. And – despite the unfortunate circumstances – it’s wonderful here. We are surrounded by amazing family (Mom, you are the best! Thank you for everything!) and have many friends – new and old – nearby. Isla is enrolled in kindergarten and I walk her to school hand in hand every day as leaves crunch under our feet while we chit-chat. She has fit in seamlessly and absolutely loves it and all her new friends, who come running up to her to envelop her in hugs as we arrive at the school doors. Haven and Mira attend a little pre-school two mornings a week where they play and paint and they too love it. Not a single morning has been met with tears or protests of not going. They are adaptable and social children and we are very proud and grateful for that. They are all in dance class twice a week and swim class on Mondays…and, honestly, are as happy as ever. They miss our boat, they ask after their island friends daily and are excited to go back and rebuild (“We are gonna bring food and water to Nanny Cay momma!” they say. The lack of food and water immediately after the storm is something they really clung to). As much as we want to go back and try to rebuild our life and business on Tortola, the time is not now. We need to assure it’s safe and that schools are running, and we need to prepare our girls for what will be a very different – albeit interesting – life when we return (we are up for the adventure and challenge). In the meantime, life needs to continue while we make a plan moving forward. To anyone that sees us out and about on the streets here, we are just another suburban family living our life. But there is so much more below the surface. It’s strange to think about and I am now hyper aware that everyone has a story. How many people do I mindlessly walk past in the grocery store are deep in pain; maybe they are going through a divorce, lost a loved one, suffer depression, or battle addiction…we just never know. This experience has really driven this fact home for me: that life goes on as normal for the people around us even though our lives will never be the same.

As someone who studied theater most of her life and errs toward positive-thinking I can very easily put on a happy face out and about, but the pain of uncertainty, the sting of losing our beloved home and the general feeling of being untethered is always there. I have strange dreams every night. One in which our boat was lifted from the depths of the harbor, in perfect condition and ready to sail again. Another I was making my way across post-apocolyptic Tortola on foot trying desperately to get back to Nanny Cay. The storm and it’s effects on us are etched deep within our psyches, obviously. Keeping busy helps, and the kids are great at keeping us busy. Helping where we can is also a boon to the pain. Our fundraising efforts have blown us away and we have all of you to thank for that. At the time of this post we have raised over $160K for relief and rebuilding efforts in the British Virgin Islands. To think that our first “goal” was $10K might illustrate our shock at this large number. Our friends, family and online community is huge and generous and we thank every single one of you. We have spent about $80K so far on tarps, generators and chainsaws and are going to be working closely with other organizations who are on the ground in the BVI to make sure our money goes where it’s most needed. This is easier said than done (File this under: lessons learned in disaster relief), which is why it is taking some time, but every penny will get into hands of people and organizations on the ground working to rebuild our beautiful island. If you have not donated and feel the urge to do so, you can here: >>>BVI IMMEDIATE RELIEF FUND<<<.

IN OTHER NEWS: we have been invited to the Annapolis Boat Show next weekend by a couple of very generous souls (Thank you SO MUCH Jeff and Cam Bach!) We are SO excited about this and while it didn’t seem like we could make it at first, I felt this deep “need” – almost a calling of sorts – to go, and my gut was telling me it was important… So we have made it happen. We will be joining many blog and vlog friends there; some of whom we already know and love, some of whom we have never yet met in person. I might be speaking on a Cruising World Panel about ways sailors can help and what to expect sailing south. Check in with our Facebook Page for updates on where we will be and when. It will be a very busy weekend for sure but we’d love to meet as many of you as we can… Scott and I, along with others, will be at the BVI Tourism booth selling our #BVISTRONG shirts and all proceeds will be going to the >>>VISAR BVI RELIEF FUND<<<. If you won’t be at the show and want to sport some #BVISTRONG gear yourself, you can get tee shirts (men, women, toddler and kids styles available), baby onesies, hoodies and trucker hats >>>HERE<<<. Huge shout out to the awesome folks behind >>> Tight Little Tribe<<< and >>>Remember the Adventure<<< for working with me on this and making it happen so fast. We have raised thousands for VISAR with this initiative while also sporting our pride! Please give them some love. I also want to give a strong shout out to the group >>>Sailors Helping<<<. Aside from housing their newly appointed executive director (and PR evacuee turned pseudo family member and friend) Diana Margarita, we are ambassadors for their great effort as well and if you are a sailor who wants to help – please check them out. This is also great place to donate to if you have no specific affiliation with a particular island and just want to help. They have big plans for long term efforts, and we are excited to be working with them.

I cannot say it enough: the community and solidarity that has emerged from these storms is AMAZING. The other day I wrote that “as my heart breaks, it fills” because the kindness of both strangers and friends and the many people who are stepping up to the plate are astounding. The coming together of people from all different walks of life is humbling and shows me that there is hope in this crazy world. We are shining with silver linings these days, and seeing the positive that has come out of this disaster is a lesson in humanity that I am honored to experience. We cannot thank you all enough…Those of you who have reached out to us – your kindness will not be forgotten.

So life is going on. We are grateful, we are lucky and we are okay. The challenge of moving forward from this storm is a big one, but we are up for it. We are not waving the white flag and – while there are definitely days we feel very defeated and completely lost, and there are moments when I completely break down – we have every intention to emerge from this stronger than before.

I want to go to the BVI in the spring,,,and would love it if the WindTraveler Crew was back there and working on their business again.  If YOU had planned to go to the Caribbean after Christmas,,,,GO.  The best thing you could do to the Caribbean is to get your tourist money back into the economy and allow them to continue to rebuild.  Most of the islands survive on some form of tourist money,,so help them out and continue to plan your trips.

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Captain Jill speaks: The Jones Act vs Puerto Rico

Captain Jills Journey’s is one of my favorite blogs because it’s obvious she’s a professional mariner and I’m working on my Captain’s License (still) and she’s a no-nonsense writer who’s funny and honest and hardworking.  Like her, I don’t often stray too far into politics but am very aware of the all the hoopla surrounding the Jones Act on the news.  The facts are easy,,,,,,shipping is getting from the US to Puerto Rico.  Once on the ground,,,,,most of the stuff gets hung up because they need some professional logisticians and a team of very large teamsters to get things to move right (my opinion only,,,,,not Captain Jills).  So if you want a good read that’s not fake news and is probably the whole truth,,,,,check out her story about the Jones Act below:

Source: Jones Act vs Puerto Rico

Help the BVI- Cool Shirts and a Great Cause

Ok folks,,,,time to step up.  Take a look at these cool shirts.

Every penny spent on these shirts goes to support the Virgin Islands Search and Rescue Teams, a subject near and dear to my heart since I am still pretty loyal to my own Search and Rescue Team,,,,JOSAR.  You’ll feel better about having done something to help and certainly look very kewl as you saunter around in one of these.  Take a look at picking up one of these and the money goes to a great cause.  PLEASE feel free to pass this along, reblog, press, repost etc.

http://www.remembertheadventure.com/bvistrong/

Yup, I’ve just bought a couple of these for me and hotwife and I think you should too!

Puerto Rico by a daughter of the island

Good luck reading this without a tear and some empathy.  It’s worth the read just for the poetry and prose, as well as the hard truths.  This is Pressed but I think it’s important enough that I wanted to share it-  please continue to share as you see fit.

Source: Puerto Rico

Why North Korea is a Serious Issue — HarsH ReaLiTy

This story is re-blogged from the Opinionated Man Website, but I think it’s totally relevant and should be read because of his unique perspective.  Jason is a American military veteran of Korean Heritage who writes to a large audience on his own blog, and these are his perspectives, in a very well written piece.  There’s so much in this post that I had to read it twice to get perspective, just as I often read pieces in more serious publications several times to make sure I understand the piece.  Give it a read and consider taking a look at his website if you haven’t already.

I am going to try and write this not as a Korean American adoptee. I am going to write this from a different perspective than a vet that was trained as a maintainer. I will try to address this as if I were not an American that loves the people of Korea and the United […]

While stories like this are out of my usual niche of sailing and adventure travel, I felt I needed to reblog this for overall perspective of the world and the current instability that’s effecting us on multiple fronts.

via Why North Korea is a Serious Issue — HarsH ReaLiTy

Happy Talk Like A Pirate Day! — Capt Jills Journeys

Photo credit to Hot Wife

I’ve got to thank Captain Jill from Captain Jills Journeys for this bitchin post all about International Talk Like a Pirate Day,,,which we both almost missed due to things going on.  However,,,my wife took me out for date night at a great Pirate Dive bar,,,,where we quaffed some quality drinks full of tequila and toasted International Talk Like a Pirate Day.  I’m sorry for this post so late,,,,,but I was sailing all week and it seemed more important than writing about it!

Sadly, I forgot all about this until this afternoon. Usually I get reminders in my email from the people who started the whole thing. For some reason this year I didn’t get any notice. Anyway. I hope my crew of scurvy dogs will grab a pot of grog and have some fun with this. 🙂 […]

via Happy Talk Like A Pirate Day! — Capt Jills Journeys

https://livefree2sailfast.com/2017/07/16/inner-pirate/

Hurricane Irma/Jose — Sailing and Cruising: Preppers

Although re-posted from RickD at Sailing and Cruising Preppers, this is a great story to pay attention to, as it’s got lots of good info on preparing for events like Irma.  Pay attention, might help someday.

Here we are 48 hours after Hurricane Irma passed us by. She started off the coast of Africa as a depression, then a tropical storm, eventually making it to a category five hurricane. With 189 mph winds at one point, this was nothing to sneeze at. As she approached the islands a lot of folks […]

via Hurricane Irma/Jose — Sailing and Cruising: Preppers

A small effort to help a Cruising Family who has lost everything in the BVI

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?

LiveFree2SailFast.com: Sailors, family, adventure travelers-

Lady in the Jungle and her Hurricane Wisdom

Although re-blogged, I don’t care,,,,cause when I read this post from the Kristine Simelda blog,,,,it sounded alot like how my parents would say the same thing.  A great story from a resilient and eloquent writer who’s in the middle of the hurricane zone, now.

After living in the Caribbean for almost twenty-five years, I have to admit that I have become a fatalist when it comes to hurricanes. The fact that Hurricane Irma didn’t behave according to previous models didn’t alarm me like it did some of my expat island friends. While they ran around securing their fancy glass […]

via GO FIGURE — Kristine Simelda

This blog is following the hurricanes and our hearts and prayers go out to those in the way of the hurricane.  Hopefully you’re having one hell of a Hurricane Party with some boat drinks as it passes safely overhead.

From Harsh Reality: How do you keep from annoying your subscribers?

This is a great post from the “Harsh Reality” blog that I grabbed to share with all of you.        While not everything is perfect on his blog, he’s pretty impressive as a full time father, someone who works full time and has a life and a house and still finds time to blog EVERY day, sometimes much more than once per day.  And he’s got more than 50,000 followers, so his advice seems to be sage at times.

Source: How do you keep from annoying your subscribers?