The first time I rounded the corner and saw Virgin Gorda’s Bitter End Yacht Club in the British Virgin Islands, my eyes stretched wide and my ticker skipped a beat. The lush green landscape seemed never-ending, and cozy thatched huts were set naturally into the scene. Balmy trade winds and an aquamarine sea flooded my senses. It was awesome on overload. Plus the people were Santa Claus-friendly, always ready to greet me with a smile. As an on-the-water enthusiast, I felt like I was home. I made several return visits to cruise, snorkel and explore this natural wonderland. And every time, I left with a new experience etched into my mind’s hard drive.
In the Florida Keys, I caught my first sailfish, plus I ate my first hog snapper. I’ve come back countless times to explore every nook and cranny of that salty Shangri-La. Whether I’m there to watch a Key West sunset or run a yacht out of Key Largo’s Ocean Reef Club, this Sunshine State destination holds a special place in my heart.
“Paradise is not lost, but she is hurt. and the time to help raise her up is now.”
Hurricane Irma slammed these areas, and many others. The devastation has been well-documented. It hurts us in the yachting community to see these beloved places and the people who help make them special enduring such hardships. But out of adversity has come great support, as well. Some examples include Foxy’s on Jost Van Dyke, which, though heavily damaged itself, has been feeding and caring for those left without power or even homes. Pusser’s, whose locations were also nearly destroyed, immediately set up a relief fund and restored some kitchen facilities to help those in need. And there are more — many more — similar stories than can’t fit on this page. From the bareboat charter fleets to marinas and resorts, everyone is starting the long, post-Irma healing process.
So what can you do? Donate to the Red Cross or YachtAid Global, or contact your vessel’s builder, your favorite charter company or your favorite brokerage firm, and see what relief efforts it has organized. This voyage of recovery will be long and hard, and it will require continual support for some time. But those of us who choose to spend life around the sea know the risks that come with it. We accept it and carry on. And we will this time too.
Paradise is not lost, but she is hurt. And the time to help raise her up is now.